Cover image for Pandora's picnic basket : the potential and hazards of genetically modified foods
Pandora's picnic basket : the potential and hazards of genetically modified foods
McHughen, Alan.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
viii, 277 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TP248.65.F66 M37 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Are you concerned about fish genes in tomatoes? Worried that brazil nut genes in soybeans can result in potentially lethal allergic reactions? That rapeseed plants bred to be resistant to herbicides could become uncontrollable superweeds? You are not alone. The issue of genetically modifiedfoods has fast become one of the most debated of recent years, with scientists and companies seeking to develop the technology on one side, and consumer groups and environmentalists on the other. However, in spite of the great heat generated by the debate, there is very little real information onthe subject, either about the technologies in use or about the regulatory processes established to approve the processes and the products. This book sets out to explain, in clear and direct language, the technologies underlying so-called genetically modified food, and compares them with other"natural" methods of plant breeding and production. The author then looks at the safeguards in place from regulators around the world and asks whether these are sufficient. The question of labelling, held by some to be an obvious way out for concerned consumers, is examined, and the honesty andusefulness of some of these labels addressed. The book then looks at issues of real concern, particularly environmental issues, and ways in which a consumer can seek to avoid GMOs if they so choose. In each chapter, key topics are addressed through question and answer boxes. Real case historiesillustrate the development and regulation of GMOs, and by the end of the book the reader will be able to make an informed choice about whether to support or challenge this technology, the products of which are increasingly pervasive.

Author Notes

Alan McHughen is a Senior Research Scientist at the University of Saskatchewen, Canada, and Chair of the International Biosafety Advisory Committee Executive of the Genetics Society of Canada. He is an independent scientist at a public university in Canada - and not in the pocket of any of thecommercial GMO companies. However he has developed a GM crop - linseed - and therefore has first-hand experience of the technologies involved, and the regulatory processes in all countries.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

As a developer of genetically modified (GM) linseed flax plants and the father of a daughter allergic to nuts, McHughen is more conscious than most people of both growing and eating food. He strives to raise the quality of public debate about GM foods by making scientific information accessible. In general, he succeeds, though parts of the book will be tough sledding for lay readers, which an incomplete list of abbreviations used in the text and a lack of references don't help. McHughen explains enough genetics in enough detail so that genetics applications to plants are clear, and so is what Monsanto and other companies are trying to do. He punctures myths, often with a gentle chuckle, and anti-GM and pro-organic believers won't like all of what they might read. But, then, neither will the transnationals and their advertisers. After full servings of science, common sense, and questions, McHughen concludes by advising readers to "stop worrying so much about your food; it's almost certainly healthier than you are." --William Beatty

Library Journal Review

Fulfilling his promise to teach rather than preach, McHughen opens with a discussion of the basics of genetic modification technology before putting this technology within the larger contexts of food and environmental safety, risk assessment, corporate operations, politics, and ethics. First learning the basics will require some effort on the part of many readers, but McHughen is convinced that the scientific concepts are not that difficult for ordinary, interested people to comprehend. This is a refreshing approach to a subject often treated by the media and others with sensationalism, wild speculations, and rumors of "Frankenfoods." McHughen's qualifications are outstanding. He is a senior research scientist at the University of Saskatchewan, chair of the International Biosafety Advisory Committee of the Genetics Society of Canada, and developer of his own genetically modified organism, linseed. His emphasis here is on the United States, Canada, Britain, and Europe. McHughen covers some of the same ground as Stephen Nottingham's Eat Your Genes (LJ 7/98), but he focuses more on the technology while Nottingham reports on industry, governmental, and regulatory developments. For public and academic libraries.DWilliam H. Wiese, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Protecting your turf: intellectual property and GM technology