cover image Farmageddon: Food and the Culture of Biotechnology

Farmageddon: Food and the Culture of Biotechnology

Brewster Kneen. New Society Publishers, $16.95 (231pp) ISBN 978-0-86571-394-9

Supporters of biotechnology claim that genetically engineered food is the only hope for feeding the world's hungry. On the contrary, asserts Canadian environmentalist Kneen in a hard-hitting, thoughtful critique. If the biotech industry gets its way, he argues, five or six giant corporations will ultimately gain control (via patents on seeds) of all major commercial crops planted anywhere on earth. This enforced monoculture production, Kneen contends, will jeopardize the self-reliance and food security of many nations. If that sounds paranoid, Kneen points out that a handful of global supermarket chains now dominate food distribution--and their shelves are increasingly stocked with unlabeled, genetically altered potatoes, corn, soybeans and other products whose long-term health effects on humans are unknown. Publisher of the magazine The Ram's Horn, devoted to food systems analysis, Kneen brands as a whitewash the FDA's refusal to impose labeling requirements on milk produced by cows fed recombinant bovine growth hormone; flimsy evidence and circular logic, he says, conceal the fact that this milk may pose real health hazards. He makes a forceful case that biotechnology's creation and owning of novel life forms for commercial purposes is unethical, inherently unsafe, born of a hubristic attitude of control and domination over nature. His up-to-date report exposes how the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand are attempting to change the rules of international trade so that companies like Nestl , Monsanto and Unilever will be able to move bioengineered food across borders--and down our throats--without hindrance. This is an important book for anyone seriously concerned about the nature of the food they eat. (Aug.)