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Food's Frontier: The Next Green Revolution Hardcover – October 30, 2000

4 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A generation and more ago, when futurists warned that an ever-expanding population would unleash famine and suffering upon the world, scientists set in motion the so-called Green Revolution. Mixing high-yield seed stock and intensive cultivation with an increased use of chemical pesticides, the Green Revolution proved remarkably successful in feeding the developing nations of the world--but only for a time.

Now, writes journalist Richard Manning, when Earth's population is again exploding--adding a new Mexico City every 12 weeks, as one of the profiled scientists notes--the need to revolutionize agriculture anew is ever more pressing. Traveling to research laboratories and farmers' fields in places such as Uganda, Zimbabwe, India, and China, Manning looks at ways in which researchers are working to improve crop yields, reduce natural pests and diseases, and increase biodiversity, with greater or lesser success. Among their approaches, Manning observes, is the use of genetically modified plants, a matter of intense debate throughout the First World. Urging that readers not dismiss this solution out of hand, Manning points out that genetic engineering is not merely a subject for theoretical discussion, but a fact of life in the agriculture of the developing world.

At the close of his well-paced travelogue, he takes a considered look at the arguments pro and con, acknowledging that there are reasons to be both fearful and optimistic when tinkering with genomes. But, Manning slyly adds, "no one ever said feeding a planet of 6 billion people would be without consequences." --Gregory McNamee

From Library Journal

Beginning with the assumption that monocultures and high-input agriculture are unsustainable and that the "Green Revolution" has failed, environmental writer Manning (One Round River) attempts to lay a course for a new way to practice agricultural research and production. Research needs to be cast in a social matrix that integrates research using (and preserving) local farmers and culture, tested methods, diversification, smaller scales, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) friendly to local ecosystems and committed to improving the life of the poor. Agriculture extension programs have missed this approach, says Manning. He uses examples from projects funded by the McKnight Foundation in nine countries, including India, China, Uganda, Brazil, and Mexico. He does not rule out genetic engineering as part of the equation, arguing that this technology may be no more dangerous than our current methods of growing foods with high chemical inputs. Manning's book is not easily digested and often raises more questions than it answers. Suitable for academic libraries, it should be read (last chapter first) by agricultural researchers and policy makers as well as sociologists.DTim McKimmie, New Mexico State Univ. Lib., Las Cruces
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: North Point Press; 1st edition (October 30, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865475938
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865475939
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,415,100 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
You have to approach with trepidation a book which has a cover blurb from the despicable, antihuman, scare monger Paul Ehrlich and which the author warns you was funded by a private organization (The McKnight Foundation) that funds the projects which he's going to be discussing. Right off the bat it just seems extraordinarily unlikely that you'll get a calm, balanced and non-dogmatic presentation of the issues. It's a pleasant surprise then that Richard Manning, despite a sleight over reliance on Ehrlichean "sky-is-falling" rhetoric, is able, at least to my non-expert eyes, to offer a full and fair look at some of the current debates surrounding the future of agriculture generally and, more specifically, the issues that arise out of the need to boost crop yields in developing countries to meet the rising food demands of their constantly increasing populations.
Manning's basic premise is that the original Green Revolution--largely a product of improved fertilizers, pesticides, and breeding techniques--has hit a wall and is no longer providing the types of increases in production which have characterized the past thirty or forty years. Nor is there any readily apparent successor Revolution to step in and provide the necessary increases. He proposes that the answer to pending food supply problems then will not come from such a top down revolution but rather will have to rely on myriad local solutions :
The Green Revolution at its most fundamental level treated all the world the same, but the lessons being learned in agriculture now are local. A practice, a variety, a people, and a crop endure in a place because selection has finely tuned them to survival.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is one of the best books I have read on this subject. It is informative, but not too dry.
The problem we face is presented well, and I am very glad that I picked this book out of so many similar choices. I am sure that it will remain a reference source for years to come.
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By A Customer on November 20, 2001
Format: Paperback
While I give him credit for acknowledging the McKnight Foundation's role in his writing this book, you can tell throughout that Manning is doing it for their sake, and less for ours. Regardless, there is some interesting information about agriculture past, present and future, but I didn't feel he reaches a unified point about where we as humans should go next.
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