The Frankenfood Myth: How Protest and Politics Threaten the Biotech Revolution

The Frankenfood Myth: How Protest and Politics Threaten the Biotech Revolution
By Henry I. Miller and Gregory Conko

Few topics have inspired as much international furor and misinformation as the development and distribution of genetically altered foods. For thousands of years, farmers have bred crops for their resistance to disease, productivity, and nutritional value; and over the past century, scientists have used increasingly more sophisticated methods for modifying them at the genetic level. But only since the 1970s have advances in biotechnology (or gene-splicing to be more precise) upped the ante, with the promise of dramatically improved agricultural products–and public resistance far out of synch with the potential risks.

In this provocative and meticulously researched book, Henry Miller and Gregory Conko trace the origins of gene-splicing, its applications, and the backlash from consumer groups and government agencies against so-called “Frankenfoods”–from America to Zimbabwe. They explain how a “happy conspiracy” of anti-technology activism, bureaucratic over-reach, and business lobbying has resulted in a regulatory framework in which there is an inverse relationship between the degree of product risk and degree of regulatory scrutiny. The net result, they argue, is a combination of public confusion, political manipulation, ill-conceived regulation (from such agencies as the USDA, EPA, and FDA), and ultimately, the obstruction of one of the safest and most promising technologies ever developed–with profoundly negative consequences for the environment and starving people around the world. The authors go on to suggest a way to emerge from this morass, proposing a variety of business and policy reforms that can unlock the potential of this cutting-edge science, while ensuring appropriate safeguards and moving environmentally friendly products into the hands of farmers and consumers. This book is guaranteed to fuel the ongoing debate over the future of biotech and its cultural, economic, and political implications.

Table of Contents:
Foreword by Norman E. Borlaug
Prologue by John H. Moore
A Brave New World of Biotechnology? More Like a Brave Old World!
Myths, Mistakes, Misconceptions, and Mendacity
Science, Common Sense, and Nonsense
Caution, Precaution, and the Precautionary Principle
The Vagaries of U.S. Regulation
Legal Liability Issues
The Vagaries of Foreign and International Regulation
European Resistance to Biotechnology
Climbing Out of the Quagmire

LC Card Number: 2004048059
LCC Class: TP248
Dewey Class: 303

Endorsement From Nick Smith, (R-MI),
House Science Subcommittee on Research:
Miller and Conko brilliantly expose the peril of allowing the precautionary principle to drive risk analysis and policymaking. Their thorough and articulate deconstruction of the precautionary principle should serve as a guide to developing regulatory policy, not only for biotechnology, but for any new idea or technology.

Endorsement From Paul D. Boyer,
Emeritus Professor
University of California, Los Angeles,
Co-Winner of the 1997 Nobel Prize in Chemistry:
Misguided public policies have seriously restricted research on, and applications of, genetic engineering in agriculture. Miller and Conko analyze why and how this has occurred. They point out the danger that the present unwarranted regulatory oppression will become the norm, and they make a strong case for drastic change in present policies. Their call for policies based on realistic risk-benefit considerations needs to be heard loudly by those responsible for the present fiasco.

Endorsement From Michael H. Mellon,
Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics
University of California, San Diego School of Medicine:
This volume simply eclipses anything else on the subject. Miller and Conko offer a masterful exposé of the flaws in current public policy towards biotechnology, a lucid discussion of the reasons for them, and innovative proposals for essential reforms.

Endorsement From Penn Jillette:
Miller and Conko describe biotech’s potential to both alleviate human suffering and improve environmental stewardship, and they offer science-based models for regulation. This book can help us fight the short-sighted bureaucrats and emotion-driven activists. It’s time for the rest of us to do our part–read the book, fight the power, and feed the people. The hard work is done; all we have left to do is get policy-makers to do the right thing.

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