- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
The New YorkerIn 1998, just as the battle over genetically modified food was heating up, the Monsanto C.E.O. Robert Shapiro—one of the men who represented O. J. Simpson—was struck in the face by a tofu cream pie hurled by enraged eco-protesters in San Francisco. Shapiro has moved on from Monsanto, the chemical giant that created Agent Orange and that, since the nineteen-eighties, has become a powerhouse in transgenic crop technology—the practice of inserting foreign genes (from, say, fireflies or chicken) into corn, potatoes, and rice. In Food, Inc., the veteran reporter Peter Pringle offers a refreshingly measured look at this brave new world of “gene guns,” Flavr Savr tomatoes, contaminated taco shells, lax regulatory oversight, dwindling crop diversity, rapacious “biopirates,” and geneticists toiling in grenade-proof greenhouses (opponents have been known to resort to tougher tactics than tofu pies). It’s possible that the pie that hit Shapiro was created from modified soybeans, which are eaten by millions of people every day.
The potential upside of genetically modified foods is huge: making pesticides obsolete, creating huge yields, and ending world hunger. But the opposition from environmentalists and creationists—fuelled by superstition as much as science—has focussed on the potential for disaster, such as new human allergies. Kathleen Hart’s Eating in the Dark is a concerned-citizen approach to the ongoing controversy that cites such respected scientific journals as Lancet for support. Whether these so-called “Frankenfoods” lead to a well-fed Utopia or to an ecological Armageddon, the G.M. revolution is, at least, helping to boost sales of organic food. (Mark Rozzo)