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Publisher's Summary

Are GMOs really that bad? A prominent environmental journalist takes a fresh look at what they actually mean for our food system and for us. 

In the past two decades, GMOs have come to dominate the American diet. Advocates hail them as the future of food, an enhanced method of crop breeding that can help feed an ever-increasing global population and adapt to a rapidly changing environment. Critics, meanwhile, call for their banishment, insisting GMOs were designed by overeager scientists and greedy corporations to bolster an industrial food system that forces us to rely on cheap, unhealthy, processed food so they can turn an easy profit. In response, health-conscious brands such as Trader Joe's and Whole Foods have started boasting that they are "GMO-free", and companies like Monsanto have become villains in the eyes of average consumers. 

Where can we turn for the truth? Are GMOs an astounding scientific breakthrough destined to end world hunger? Or are they simply a way for giant companies to control a problematic food system? 

Environmental writer McKay Jenkins traveled across the country to answer these questions and discovered that the GMO controversy is more complicated than meets the eye. He interviewed dozens of people on all sides of the debate - scientists hoping to engineer new crops that could provide nutrients to people in the developing world, Hawaiian papaya farmers who credit GMOs with saving their livelihoods, and local farmers in Maryland who are redefining what it means to be "sustainable". The result is a comprehensive, nuanced examination of the state of our food system and a much-needed guide for consumers to help them make more informed choices about what to eat for their next meal. 

©2017 McKay Jenkins (P)2017 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“Impressive research into a complex situation presented in a highly readable form.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Highlighting the pros and cons of this contentious topic, Jenkins gives conscientious readers plenty to chew on.” (Publishers Weekly)

“McKay Jenkins has done the impossible.  He has produced a remarkably fair and balanced account of the contentious role of GMOs in the U.S. food supply, calling the shots as he sees them.  Pro- and anti-GMO proponents will find plenty to argue with, but anyone wanting to understand what the fights are really about and why they matter will find this book a big help.” (Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University and author of Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety)

What listeners say about Food Fight

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1 sided assessment of a complex issue

I have been trying to find a book that gives a balanced, science-based analysis of GMOs. This is not that book.

As an engineer, I am continuously disheartened by the lack of high quality science writing today . If you have already made up your mind that GMOs are killing you and that Monsanto and “Big Argi” want you to die of cancer so their stock will go up a quarter point, then you’ll love this book.

It is so filled with contradiction and pseudoscience that I don’t even know where to begin. The author continually focuses on and quotes the 2% of scientists that are still “unsure” if they are safe, when 98% agree that the science is settled. He even quotes the “food babe” who is an established fraud.

There are issues with subtle nuance that really do make one wonder about whether GM food is the answer to our population problems. It’s too bad this book takes such an anti science approach to the basics of GMOs that I can’t trust any of the other information that may or may not be factual.

I am Looking elsewhere for real analysis of this timely issue. I suggest you do the same.

3 people found this helpful

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Comprehensive and insightful data. Brilliant!

I really admire all of McCay Jenkins books. The datas is quite well balanced and complete.. I thought I knew all about these subjects 30 books of GMO's should have been enough but this book has some amazing data.
Thanks

2 people found this helpful

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A collection of superficial research

What could McKay Jenkins have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

The author being an English professor did a great job of writing. What was seriously lacking was scientific information. When I get a book about GMOs I don't expect a casual observer with no understanding about genetic techniques to be the one delivering the information. Or, if that's going to happen, at the very least provide examples and data to support the information you are delivering. What I will say is that the issue of cis and trans genetic products was nicely contrasted. However, from reading the synopsis I expected definitive data about monoculture agriculture's effects on micro and macro environments, I expected a larger discussion about bioaccumulation of pesticides and herbicides to include factual research, not casual observation, and I expected honest information to be presented to a public who is craving information about the fledgling field of genetic modification. This was written as a crusade to rip apart the food industry without supportive information as to why and how the practices in place today are so damaging. Sure glyphosphate is bad - tell the reader WHY its bad. Back that up with definitive data - how many patients have cancer from this, how many species have been taken to the edge of extinction because of organophosphates. Otherwise, you are engaging in scare tactics. And remember, correlation is NOT causation. The main themes are all there in the book but all of them are seriously lacking any supportive data to make a convincing argument in either direction.

5 people found this helpful

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Scare tactics

Overall I liked the book as I have a good base about this topic. The problem is that it’s biased towards non GMO. There aren’t many positive in depth advantages discussed. The problem lies with distribution. If your state is not able to grow variety produce, then your stuck with eating your local non gmo produce. Would work fine in Hawaii or most southern states. He does bring up the American Chestnut. But fails to describe the complexity of the problem. With gmo technology we can grow the American chestnut that is 99.99% similar to the original American chestnut. Without gmo technology we would loose the American chestnut due to someone bringing in the virus from Asia. An Asian chestnut would likely get an American virus. It’s travel and diversity that’s wrecking our ecosystems.

1 person found this helpful

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Scathing

For my initial foray into the topic of GMO's (beyond popular heresy) I was looking for a balanced book. It began impartial, but the nature of the topic could not sustain a 50/50 ratio of for/against - the book was around 10/90, though the 'against' was against current deplorable corporate practices and philosophies, and not really the science.

The anecdotes were fascinating and revealing, the author had a good grasp of the topic. The last chapter was actually inspirational, if a bit romantic. The book kept my interest throughout, improved my grasp of the topic, and tempered my outlook.

I had encountered greed and blind corporate service before (the history of lead in gasoline being one), and the book was scathing in its presentation of its existence here.

1 person found this helpful