cover image Modified: GMOs and the Threat to Our Food, Our Land, Our Future

Modified: GMOs and the Threat to Our Food, Our Land, Our Future

Caitlin Shetterly. Putnam, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-0-399-17067-6

In this alarming journalistic work, Shetterly (Made for You and Me) investigates genetically modified organisms, their associated pesticides, and the biotech megacorporations that produce and sell them. Shetterly begins by detailing her own debilitating but undiagnosed illness, which only abated after an allergist suggested that she had “developed a reaction to genetically modified corn” and she followed his advice to eliminate corn from her diet. This work, a follow-up to Shetterly’s piece for Elle magazine describing that experience, is structured around visits to a few people on both sides of the issue of the use of genetically modified crops as well as her additional research to understand more about GMOs and what is at stake. That turns out to be billions of dollars, and, more broadly, public health. For example, many genetically modified crops are created to be “Roundup Ready” so that they will survive the application of the Roundup pesticide, which by no coincidence is also sold by Monsanto, the producer of the seeds. This troubling conflict of interest is exacerbated by a complete lack of transparency; the biotech giants conducting the studies that claim their products are safe don’t make that research publicly available. Shetterly’s accessible, well-researched, and damning work brings clarity to an often fuzzy debate. Agent: Lisa Grubka, Fletcher & Co. (Oct.)