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Travels in the Genetically Modified Zone [Hardcover]

Ml Winston

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Book Description

8 July 2002
With genetically modified crops we have entered uncharted territory - where visions of the triumph of biotechnology in agriculture vie with dire views of medical and environmental disaster. For two years Mark L. Winston travelled this fraught territory at home and abroad, listening to farmers, industry spokespeople, regulators, and researchers, canvassing high-security laboratories, environmentalist enclaves, and cyberspace, making a thorough survey of the facts, opinions, and practices deployed by opponents and proponents of transgenic crops. Through his sympathetic portrayal of the passions on all sides, Winston brings a clear, unbiased perspective to this bewildering landscape. Travelling with Winston, we see the excitement and curiosity that pervade laboratories developing genetically modified crops, as well as the panic and outrage among dedicated opponents of agricultural biotechnology; the desperation of conventional farmers as they look to science for solutions to the problems driving them from their farms, as well as the deeply held values of organic farmers who dread the incursion of genetically modified crops into their expanding enterprise. And, Winston shows us, these contrasting attitudes transcend national borders, with troubling counterparts and consequences in the developing world. As he seeks a middle ground where concerns about genetic engineering can be rationally discussed and resolved, Winston gives the reader a full and balanced view of the forces at play in the chaotic debate over agricultural biotechnology.

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The concerns over GM have led to one of the most heated debates in the history of science. The interested parties have entrenched themselves so deeply that the public has become very confused...[Winston] has spent a lot of time talking to those closely involved with GM research and development, on both sides of the debate...This is an excellent account of where GM stands both in the developed and developing world. Mark Winston has managed to clear a lot of the mystery and confusion so that readers will be able to debate the issues involved in a much more informed way.--Leighton Dann"Biologist" (08/01/2002)

About the Author

Mark L. Winston is Professor of Biological Sciences and a Fellow in the Morris I. Wosk Centre for Dialogue at Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia. He is the author of Nature Wars (Harvard).

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A solid backgrounder 26 Dec 2002
By Robert Adler - Published on
If you are interested in learning what's behind the headlines concerning genetically modified crops and foods, this is a good choice. The author is a professor of biological sciences at British Columbia's Simon Fraser University, and clearly knows what he is writing about. He traces the history of GM crops and presents the controversies concerning them in a balanced way. That balance is both the book's strength and weakness. Winston gives the pro- and anti-GM arguments equal time, and describes them in an even-handed way. However, the absence of a strongly stated point of view made the book less interesting, at least to me. Actually, Winston does have a point of view, which he reveals towards the end of the book. He thinks that the issues swirling around GM agriculture and foods can and should be resovled with a lot less rhetoric and more reason. Given the depth of feelings on the side of people and groups opposed to GM agriculture and foods, and the amount of money at stake for companies developing and pushing them, the author's hope for reasonable solutions seems admirable, but perhaps naive. Still, if you want a factual, balanced account of the GM issue to date, this book would certainly be useful.
Robert Adler, author of Science Firsts: From The Creation of Science to the Science of Creation (Wiley, 2002).
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