Beyond Evolution: The Genetically Altered Future of Plants, Animals, the Earth...and Humans

Michael W. Fox, Author
Michael W. Fox, Author Lyons Press $24.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-55821-901-4
Reviewed on: 01/04/1999
Release date: 01/01/1999
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From bioethicist (Eating with Conscience) and animal-rights activist Fox comes an eloquent and scathing indictment of the biotechnology industry that could trigger a national debate. Whereas biotech's supporters welcome pigs bioengineered to produce human hemoglobin, transgenic plants that secrete their own insecticides and ""supercrops"" that presumably will feed the world's hungry, Fox views the creation of these transgenic animals and plants (made by inserting a gene from a dissimilar organism) as fundamentally unethical, as well as unnecessary. An advocate of traditional husbandry practices and sustainable organic farming, he argues that biotechnology--coupled with industrial, chemical-based agriculture--will only accelerate the adverse environmental and consumer-health consequences of factory farming. He also contends that agribiotechnology is a nail in the coffin of Third World and indigenous peoples, as multinational companies use patents on genetically engineered organisms to gain monopolistic control of the world's markets for food and medicine, turning farmers into contract growers under the yoke of corporate feudalism. About 60% of the processed foods we now eat--corn, potatoes, salmon, soy, tomatoes, etc.--contain some genetically engineered ingredients. Blasting the FDA for its failure to implement labeling requirements, Fox warns that ""genetic pollution"" is inevitable as bioengineered crops, bacteria, fish and other organisms spread their anomalous transgenes into Earth's life-stream, with utterly unknown consequences for human health and a very real potential for cross-contamination of conventional crops. Pointing to the Clinton White House's ties with the agribiotechnology industry, Fox calls for widespread public involvement in the decision-making process of how this new technology is applied, and he sets forth bioethical criteria, including safety, environmental and animal welfare considerations. Fox's succinct book is the most cogent and persuasive to date on a global issue that, if he is right, has already reached nightmarish proportions. (Sept.)
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