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A Consumer's Guide to GM Food Paperback – 30 Jun 2000


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Alan McHughen is a public sector educator, scientist and consumer advocate. After earning his doctorate at Oxford University, Dr McHughen worked at Yale University and the University of Saskatchewan before joining the University of California, Riverside. A molecular geneticist with an interest in crop improvement and environmental sustainability, he helped develop US and Canadian regulations covering genetically engineered crops and foods. He served on recent US National Academy of Sciences panels investigating the environmental effects of transgenic plants, and a second investigating the health effects of genetically modified foods. He is now Past President and Treasurer of the International Society for Biosafety Research (ISBR). Having developed internationally approved commercial crop varieties using both conventional breeding and genetic engineering techniques, he has firsthand experience with the relevant issues from both sides of the regulatory process. As an educator and consumer advocate, he helps non-scientists understand the environmental and health impacts of both modern and traditional methods of food production.

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Amazon Review

The development of genetically modified foods, especially in the UK, is something of a "hot potato", leaving the bemused consumer concerned that more than fingers will get burned. Alan McHugen is himself a scientist involved in biotechnology processes but his book presents a balanced analysis of the issues involved. He informatively straddles the debate between the scientists and the companies committed to the technology and the consumer and environmentalist groups voicing their concerns. Writing in a language readily accessible to the non-scientific reader, he lucidly charts the development from the chromosome to the GM test crop. While he argues that there can be no turning back the clock as the gene is already out of the test tube, he supports more appropriate legislation to match the onward march of technology. Though his prime aim is to give an explanation of the scientific processes involved in GM food in order to further understanding he does not sidestep the ethical and environmental issues involved. The potential and hazards of genetically modified foods are thoroughly explored. Easing the reader through his text, each chapter is headed by questions on key subjects to which he provides not only answers but offers up informed choices. In the end, it is up to the individual consumer whether to support or challenge the technology and McHugen has detailed a mass of information to arrive at that decision. --Michael Hatfield

About the Author

Alan McHughen is a Senior Research Scientist at the University of Saskatchewen, Canada, and Chair of the International Biosafety Advisory Committee Executive of the Genetics Society of Canada. He is an independent scientist at a public university in Canada - and not in the pocket of any of the commercial GMO companies. However he has developed a GM crop - linseed - and therefore has first-hand experience of the technologies involved, and the regulatory processes in all countries.

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