Pringle Peter - Food, Inc

Author : Pringle Peter
Title : Food, Inc Mendel to Monsanto The promises and perils of the biotech harvest
Year : 2003

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Introduction. This book is for those who still have an open mind about genetically modified foods—despite the constant flow of alarms from consumer watchdogs and constant assurances from the agricultural establishment that everything down on the farm is lovely. Those who have already decided what to think should stop right here. This is not a book that will make them feel comfortable. Nor is it intended to persuade them to think differently. Like other average consumers in this growing debate, I did not set out with strong opinions about genetically modified foods. Nor do my views fit easily now into either camp. I am persuaded that the biotech harvest has considerable perils, if done too fast or without proper regulation, but I can also see that it has considerable promise to relieve pain and hunger for millions of people— if governments, industry, and overzealous sentries don’t stand in the way. Too often, it seems to me, the public has been ill served by special interest groups who have sought to promote their products or press their rigid opinions rather than seek the wider interest of humanity. The middle ground, which I shall try to occupy in these pages, was strangely and rather eerily deserted in the summer of 2001 when I first set foot there, and remains to this day somewhat underpopulated. A decade ago, Americans took their first bite out of a transgenic food. Scientists had found the ripening agent in a tomato that makes the fleshy part go soft, so they flipped the gene upside down and backward, as they put it. The modified tomato then had an extra few days before it started to rot in the normal fashion. The clever idea was to everyone’s benefit. At the time, farmers were picking tomatoes from the vine when they were green and turning them pink artificially with a whiff of ethylene gas. This crude technique allowed the tomato to be picked unripe by machines and travel longer distances, thus making more money for farmers, food carriers, and supermarkets. ...

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