Food Fight: GMOs and the Future of the American Diet

Food Fight: GMOs and the Future of the American Diet

by McKay Jenkins


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Are GMOs really that bad?  A prominent environmental journalist takes a fresh look at what they actually mean for our food system and for us.

In the past two decades, GMOs have come to dominate the American diet. Advocates hail them as the future of food, an enhanced method of crop breeding that can help feed an ever-increasing global population and adapt to a rapidly changing environment. Critics, meanwhile, call for their banishment, insisting GMOs were designed by overeager scientists and greedy corporations to bolster an industrial food system that forces us to rely on cheap, unhealthy, processed food so they can turn an easy profit. In response, health-conscious brands such as Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods have started boasting that they are “GMO-free,” and companies like Monsanto have become villains in the eyes of average consumers.

Where can we turn for the truth? Are GMOs an astounding scientific breakthrough destined to end world hunger? Or are they simply a way for giant companies to control a problematic food system?

Environmental writer McKay Jenkins traveled across the country to answer these questions and discovered that the GMO controversy is more complicated than meets the eye. He interviewed dozens of people on all sides of the debate—scientists hoping to engineer new crops that could provide nutrients to people in the developing world, Hawaiian papaya farmers who credit GMOs with saving their livelihoods, and local farmers in Maryland who are redefining what it means to be “sustainable.” The result is a comprehensive, nuanced examination of the state of our food system and a much-needed guide for consumers to help them make more informed choices about what to eat for their next meal. 

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101982204
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/13/2018
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 1,184,664
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

McKay Jenkins is the author of seven books, including ContamiNation, The Last Ridge, and Bloody Falls of the Coppermine. The Cornelius Tilghman Professor of English, journalism, and environmental humanities at the University of Delaware, Jenkins lives with his wife and two children in Baltimore.

Read an Excerpt

The road we have traveled to our current state of eating is actually a very long, interconnected highway. After World War II, American national security strategists decided that protecting the homeland required building a network of broad interstates that mirrored the German Autobahn. This monumental road-building project—now close to 47,000 miles long—was initially conceived as a way to efficiently move troops and military machinery, but it has also had dramatic peacetime consequences for the American landscape, and for the American diet.

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Copyright © 2018 Mckay Jenkins.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
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Table of Contents

Prologue: Square Tomatoes 1

Part 1 Roots

1 Are GMOs Safe? Is That The Right Question? 17

2 The Long, Paved Road to Industrial Food, and the Disappearance of the American Farmer 47

3 Mapping and Engineering and Playing Prometheus 77

Part 2 Seeds

4 The Fruit That Saved an Island 109

5 Trouble in Paradise 123

6 Fighting for That Which Feeds Us 149

Part 3 Fruit

7 Feeding the World 179

8 The Plant That Started Civilization, and the Plant That Could Save It 207

9 Can GMOs Be Sustainable? 231

10 The Farm Next Door 251

Epilogue: Getting Our Hands Dirty 275

Acknowledgments 287

Notes 289

Index 311

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