The Frankenfood Myth: How Protest and Politics Threaten the Biotech Revolution

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9780275978792: The Frankenfood Myth: How Protest and Politics Threaten the Biotech Revolution
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Few topics have inspired as much international furore and misinformation as the development of genetically modified foods. For thousands of years, farmers have bred crops for their resistance to disease, productivity, and nutritional value; and over the past century, scientists have used increasing more sophisticated methods for modifying them at the genetic level. But only since the 1970s have advances in biotechnology (or gene-splicing to be more precise) upped the stakes, with the promise of dramatically improved agricultural products - provoking public resistance far out of proportion to the potential risks. In this provocative and meticulously researched book, Henry Miller and Gregory Conko trace the origins of genesplicing, its applications, and the backlash from consumer groups and government agencies against so-called "Frankenfoods" - from America to Zimbabwe. They explain how anti-technology activism, bureaucracy, and business lobbying have resulted in a regulatory framework in which there is an inverse relationship between the degree of product risk and degree of regulatory scrutiny. The net result, they argue, is a combination of public confusion, political manipulation, ill-conceived regulation from government agencies, and ultimately, the obstruction of one of the safest and most promising technologies ever developed - with profoundly negative consequences for the environment and starving people around the world. The authors suggest a way to emerge from this morass, proposing a variety of business and policy reforms that can unlock the potential of this cutting-edge science, while ensuring appropriate safeguards. This book is guaranteed to fuel the ongoing debate over the future of biotechnology and its cultural, economic, and political implications.

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Review:

"[S]erves as a fascinating study in how bad science and intellectual perfidy can so easily hijack government response to an issue. Miller and Conko add a solemn - and quite disheartening - reminder that the wealthy nations of the world will not be the ones to suffer the most from regulatory crush. Those at the margins of development, where an increase in crop yield or a decrease in pest damage could mean surplus instead of subsistence, or survival instead of starvation, will likely feel the greatest impact of GM agriculture. The unjustifiable obstruction of this humanitarian potential by so-called consumer advocates and environmental activists makes these well-fed protestors appear utterly unconcerned about the troubles of the real world."-The New York Times

"[A]n important book."-The Financial Times

"[A] new book that questions the wisdom of current gene-splicing regulations."-Townhall.com

"A fine look at all the issues involved, and the myths and realities of 'frankenfoods'."-MBR Bookwatch

"Readers who care a lot about regulatory processes will unquestionably enjoy The Frankenfood Myth."-New York Post

"This book provides a fascinating insight into the chasm between hard-science and consumer foodism, and how to 'build bridges' between these sectors ... Whatever your views on GM foods, this book will move you to want to know more."-Dietetics Today

"The strength of this book is that the authors of The Frankenfood Myth are clearly very knowledgeable in the area of policy and regulation as it relates to gene-spliced crops. Their extensive historical treatment of regulation and risk assessment in the USA is especially good reading."-Crop Science

"For those who cannot wait for Crichton to novelise the genetic revolution, and are interested in understanding the reasons agricultural biotechnology has not lived up to its potential and what policies are needed to change that, we join Barron's in recommending Henry Miller and Gregory Conko's The Frankenfood Myth."-Regulation Magazine

"[T]he book is perfect for policymakers....If the authors are correct--and they make a compelling case--then GM food phobes and regulators have made the world a poorer place. The losses could become even graver if GM food phobes continue to have their way....Great costs have already come from the myth that GM foods are unfit for consumption. "Frankenfoods" should have a place at the table of all who want them."-The Washington Times

"The heated debate over so-called Frankenfoods is not only about the pros and cons of genetically manipulating crops to improve their nutritional value and resistance to disease; it also concerns intellectual honesty. For years, activists opposed to the new science have been spreading unfounded and inaccurate horror stories, threatening to derail progress vitally needed to feed the world. The Frankenfood Myth by Henry Miller and Gregory Conko takes a long, hard look a both the new agricultural biotechnology and the policy debate surrounding it."-Barron's

About the Author:

HENRY I. MILLER, M.D., is a Research Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, where, since 1994, he has focused on the relationship between science and regulation, models for regulatory reform, and federal and international oversight of new advances in biotechnology. A physician and molecular biologist, he served for 17 years at the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. He is the author or editor of six books, including To America's Health and Public Controversy in Biotechnology, as well as hundreds of articles in such publications as Forbes, the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Policy Review, and Nature Biotechnology. GREGORY CONKO is Director of Food Safety Policy with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, an interest group based in Washington, D.C. He is also co-founder and Vice President of the AgBioWorld Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides information to teachers, journalists, policymakers, and the general public about developments in plant science, biotechnology, and sustainable agriculture. His writings have appeared in scholarly journals, newspapers, and magazines, and he frequently participates in international conferences on food safety and trade.

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