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Pandora's Picnic Basket: The Potential and Hazards of Genetically Modified Foods
     

Pandora's Picnic Basket: The Potential and Hazards of Genetically Modified Foods

by Alan McHughen
 

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Did you know that there are fish genes in some tomatoes? That Brazil nut genes in soybeans can result in potentially lethal allergic reactions? That rapeseed plants bred to be resistant to herbicides could become uncontrollable superweeds? Genetically modified foods do pose real risks, and in recent years they have become the focus of a pitched battle between

Overview

Did you know that there are fish genes in some tomatoes? That Brazil nut genes in soybeans can result in potentially lethal allergic reactions? That rapeseed plants bred to be resistant to herbicides could become uncontrollable superweeds? Genetically modified foods do pose real risks, and in recent years they have become the focus of a pitched battle between scientists, entrepreneurs, consumer advocates, and environmentalists. Yet despite the great heat generated by the debate, there is very little real information on the subject, either about the technologies in use or about the regulatory processes established to protect us from potentially dangerous products.
Pandora's Picnic Basket explains, in clear and direct language, the technologies underlying genetically modified food, comparing them with other "natural" methods of plant breeding and production. Researcher Alan McHughen evaluates the safeguards in place from regulators around the world and asks whether these are sufficient. In particular, he examines the question of labeling, held by some to be an obvious way to help protect consumers, and addresses the honesty and usefulness of some of these labels. Throughout the book, McHughen offers fair-minded, well-informed accounts of issues of real concern, particularly environmental issues, and he outlines ways in which consumers can avoid genetically modified food if they so choose. The author uses question-and-answer boxes to address key issues and real case histories to illustrate the development and regulation of genetically modified food.
Genetically modified foods are increasingly available to the public. Pandora's Picnic Basket will help consumers make informed choices about this controversial technology.

Editorial Reviews

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Zhaoming Xu, BSc, MSc, PhD (University of British Columbia)
Description: In a plain, but clear and straightforward manner, the author of this book explains the technologies underlying genetically modified foods and discusses important issues, such as labeling, safeguards in place from regulators, and the environmental impact surrounding genetically modified foods. One of the unique features of this book is the "question-and-answer" boxes in which the author addresses key issues and real case histories to illustrate the development and regulation of genetically modified foods. He also provides calculations such as "calculating dietary exposure" and "dietary exposure to (novel) proteins" in these boxes to address consumers' concerns.
Purpose: The purpose is to help consumers to make informed and educated choices about genetically modified foods.
Audience: This book is written for ordinary consumers who are concerned about the safety associated with increasingly available genetically modified food.
Features: The author provides the science behind genetically modified foods. He explains basic terminology, such as "genetic modification" and "genetically modified organism," and then outlines the basic genetics and how the genetically modified foods are created. A spectrum of important issues, such as the environmental impact, popular misconceptions, labeling, allergenicity associated by consuming genetically modified foods, regulatory process, patents, etc., are also discussed.
Assessment: An increasing availability of genetically modified foods in the marketplace has generated interesting debate about this controversial technology. The author discusses a whole spectrum of issues surrounding the creation and consumption of genetically modified foods in a very direct and interesting way. This is a well-written and very useful reference to consumers. The author's credentials as a senior research scientist who has developed genetically modified plants adds weight to the message presented in this book.
3 Stars from Doody
Zhaoming Xu
In a plain, but clear and straightforward manner, the author of this book explains the technologies underlying genetically modified foods and discusses important issues, such as labeling, safeguards in place from regulators, and the environmental impact surrounding genetically modified foods. One of the unique features of this book is the ""question-and-answer"" boxes in which the author addresses key issues and real case histories to illustrate the development and regulation of genetically modified foods. He also provides calculations such as ""calculating dietary exposure"" and ""dietary exposure to (novel) proteins"" in these boxes to address consumers' concerns. The purpose is to help consumers to make informed and educated choices about genetically modified foods. This book is written for ordinary consumers who are concerned about the safety associated with increasingly available genetically modified food. The author provides the science behind genetically modified foods. He explains basic terminology, such as ""genetic modification"" and ""genetically modified organism,"" and then outlines the basic genetics and how the genetically modified foods are created. A spectrum of important issues, such as the environmental impact, popular misconceptions, labeling, allergenicity associated by consuming genetically modified foods, regulatory process, patents, etc., are also discussed. An increasing availability of genetically modified foods in the marketplace has generated interesting debate about this controversial technology. The author discusses a whole spectrum of issues surrounding the creation and consumption of genetically modified foods in a very direct and interesting way.This is a well-written and very useful reference to consumers. The author's credentials as a senior research scientist who has developed genetically modified plants adds weight to the message presented in this book.
Library Journal
Fulfilling his promise to teach rather than preach, McHughen opens with a discussion of the basics of genetic modification technology before putting this technology within the larger contexts of food and environmental safety, risk assessment, corporate operations, politics, and ethics. First learning the basics will require some effort on the part of many readers, but McHughen is convinced that the scientific concepts are not that difficult for ordinary, interested people to comprehend. This is a refreshing approach to a subject often treated by the media and others with sensationalism, wild speculations, and rumors of "Frankenfoods." McHughen's qualifications are outstanding. He is a senior research scientist at the University of Saskatchewan, chair of the International Biosafety Advisory Committee of the Genetics Society of Canada, and developer of his own genetically modified organism, linseed. His emphasis here is on the United States, Canada, Britain, and Europe. McHughen covers some of the same ground as Stephen Nottingham's Eat Your Genes (LJ 7/98), but he focuses more on the technology while Nottingham reports on industry, governmental, and regulatory developments. For public and academic libraries.--William H. Wiese, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Cass R. Sunstein
Alan McHughen is a Canadian researcher who has developed genetically modified plants. He is also a terrific writer, and he has produces the best available tratment of the questions raised by genetically modified foods...What makes the book distinctive is its exceptionally clear-headed and illuminating treatment of the topic of risk and technological advance in general.
New Republic

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780198506744
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
08/15/2000
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.00(d)

What People are Saying About This

Kirkus Review
"A frank, fair, and highly informative ... intelligent, invective-free discussion of the issues that should be welcomed by consumers confused by the claims and charges of both sides in the current debate."

Meet the Author

Alan McHughen is a Senior Research Scientist at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, and Chair of the International Biosafety Advisory Committee of the Genetics Society of Canada. He himself has developed genetically modified plants and therefore has first-hand experience of the technologies involved and the regulatory processes in all countries.

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