What’s So Controversial about Genetically Modified Food?

Even after decades of use in many parts of the world, genetic modification of foods remains the most bitterly contested innovation in agriculture. Some proponents of the technology characterize the opponents as being scientifically illiterate but is that really the issue? In this timely book, John T. Lang uses ethical, legal, and cultural frameworks to examine the debates around the use of genetically modified food. I recommend it highly to the many scientists perplexed that the issue is still so controversial if the science is so “settled”. This is by no means an anti-science book, but explains how people, very reasonably, might consider other types of evidence when making decisions.
– John Coupland, Professor of Food Science, Pennsylvania State University, and President-Elect of the Institute of Food Technologists

If you’ve ever looked at a “Non GMO” label in the supermarket and wondered what it really meant, read this book. It’s a thoughtful inquiry into the nature of genetically modified food, and it will get you to think more deeply about all of the food you eat.
– Dan Charles, Food and Agriculture Correspondent, National Public Radio, USA, and author of Lords of the Harvest: Biotech, Big Money, and the Future of Food

The rampant use of genetically modified food incites fierce and seemingly intractable debates among environmental activists, scientists, governmental regulators, and industry representatives. While some portray GM food as scientific progress, others frame it as a form of perverted science. But why is it so controversial?

Free of technical jargon, this timely and balanced book explores the science—and myth—that surrounds genetically modified food to help us understand what’s at stake. It contends that the controversies reflect ongoing tensions between social and political power. It shows how food is deeply imbued with religious, social, cultural and ethical meanings, and connects GM food to the globalization of food and corporate concentration. While our modern, mechanized, and globalized infrastructure produces enormous amounts and varieties of food available at our convenience, it also produces irreducible social vulnerability and undeniable uncertainty. All those who care about where their food comes from and how it produced will enjoy this stimulating book.

Lang, John T. 2016. What’s So Controversial about Genetically Modified Food? London: Reaktion Books.

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