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200 × 120 × 14 mm
184 pages
01 Jul 2016
Food Controversies
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What’s So Controversial about Genetically Modified Food? John T. Lang

The rampant use of genetically modified food incites public debate among activists, ethicists, scientists, regulators, and industry representatives. While proponents portray genetic modification as scientific progress, opponents reframe it as a form of perverted science. But why is it so controversial? This timely and balanced book explores the many myths and arguments surrounding this extremely topical issue. Written in an accessible style, free of technical jargon, it examines the science behind genetic modification and the controversies that reflect ongoing tensions between social and political power, democratic practice and corporate responsibility. It shows how food is deeply imbued with religious, social, cultural and ethical meanings, which bring a variety of non-scientific debates to the forefront, and also connects GM food to other issues such as globalization of food and corporate concentration.

While our modern, mechanized, centralized 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 is produced will enjoy this stimulating book.

‘[a] useful and thought-provoking book’ — Gabriel Carlyle

‘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, Institute of Food Technologists

‘If youve ever looked at a Non GMO label in the supermarket and wondered what it really meant, read this book. Its 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, National Public Radios Food and Agriculture correspondent and author of Lords of the Harvest: Biotech, Big Money, and the Future of Food

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John T. Lang is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Occidental College in Los Angeles, California.


Genetically modified food: remaking the global food system

1 The Illusion of Diversity: global food production and distribution

2 Intellectual Property: protecting or overreaching?

3 Scary Information? Labeling and traceability

4 Scientific Fallibility: contested interests and symbolic battles

5 Getting Back on Track: the tension between idealism and doom