cover image GMOs Decoded: A Skeptic’s View of Genetically Modified Foods

GMOs Decoded: A Skeptic’s View of Genetically Modified Foods

Sheldon Krimsky. MIT, $24.95 (216p) ISBN 978-0-262-03919-2

Krimsky (Science in the Private Interest), a Tufts professor of urban and environmental policy, digs into the controversy about genetically modified foods in this thoughtful, thorough book. Intended for “nonexperts,” Krimsky’s work lays out opposing “claims and counterclaims,” demystifies the science, and shows “where there is consensus, honest disagreement, or unresolved uncertainty.” To that end, Krimsky addresses seven questions, such as “What is known about the health assessment of genetically modified crops?” Applying “organized skepticism” to the available literature, he finds not one but many points of contention, beginning with where exactly the line between GMO and non-GMO products lies, and going on to how risk is defined and measured. Digging deep into bureaucratic procedure, Krimsky explains that the U.S. emphasizes “product-based” regulation—“the method used to assemble or construct” a product is less important than “the properties it possesses after it is constructed”—rather than the alternative process-based model, and thus does not treat GMO products as special cases. While these points may seem arcane, each one, Krimsky shows, is important for policymakers, and, by extension, for food consumers. Nutritionist Marion Nestle’s foreword describes Krimsky’s work a “gift to anyone confused” about the subject, an apt description for this fair-minded, informative primer. [em](Mar.) [/em]