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

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ISBN-13: 978-0275978792
ISBN-10: 0275978796
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"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."-Paul D. Boyer, Emeritus Professor University of California, Los Angeles, Co-Winner of the 1997 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Book Description

Describes how misguided activism and government policies are squandering potential advances in biotechnology.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Praeger (August 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0275978796
  • ISBN-13: 978-0275978792
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,167,595 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 57 people found the following review helpful By B. Martineau on February 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The Frankenfood Myth provides, rather colorfully, a history of the regulation of food and drugs in the U.S. and an interesting insider's take on the motivation of the federal employees doing that regulating. It also represents a different point of view in the debate over agricultural genetic engineering. Its authors disagree not only with the not-for-profit organizations like Environmental Defense and Greenpeace, but also with companies in the biotech industry like Monsanto and Novartis, about how to appropriately regulate the products of this "new biotechnology." More middle-of-the-road and consumer-oriented organizations, like the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology and the Center for Science in the Public Interest, aren't approaching it correctly either, the authors contend. Even the National Academy of Sciences, at least in its reports released since genetically engineered crops have been commercialized anyway, has it wrong! Miller and Conko's position may, in fact, be unique.

But their main point--that gene-spliced organisms, particularly crop plants produced for food and drugs, are being regulated too stringently in the United States--is not, in my opinion, adequately documented or otherwise substantiated enough to be convincing. And some of their supporting issues--such as those related to process vs. product, the adequacy of post-market policing, the effects of labeling--struck me as inconsistent as well.

For example, the authors claim, with no citation, that the "regulatory requirements for gene-spliced plants and foods have been ratcheted up steadily for nearly twenty years....
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Steven H Propp TOP 100 REVIEWER on April 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The authors wrote in the Prologue to this 2004 book, "This volume analyzes the foibles, errors, and onconsistencies of current regulatory overreach in the context of biotechnology... Advances that represent great benefits for humankind have been delayed and possibly lost altogether. As a result, both our public and individual lives are diminished. Perhaps this volume will serve as a wake-up call to the deficiencies of current public policy and will chart a course to better prospects for the future."

They add, "In this volume, we dissect various aspects of public policy toward the new biotechnology: its roots...; its nurturing by media eager for stories about 'the tomato that ate Toledo'; and its complex relationship with culture and agriculture. Finally, we map out reforms that could salvage some production of food and pharmaceuticals." (Pg. 2)

They note that although critics fear so-called "super weeds," herbicide-tolerant canola, soybean, and wheat plants "have been produced with conventional breeding for more than twenty years, and no unmanageable weed problems have been reported as a result." (Pg. 25)

They disagree that scientists have a special responsibility to "mold their research programs and findings to accommodate the public's fears, or that they should hold town hall meetings at which they explain the value of their work." (Pg. 35) The scientific community, they argue, "should not gracefully or passively tolerate activist campaigns who doctrines contradict empirical knowledge." (Pg. 51) However, they suggest that scientists with "mainstream views have a particular obligation to expose and debunk the misrepresenatations of their few rogue colleagues." (Pg.
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24 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Occasional reviewer on September 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Miller and Mr. Conko have done a tremendous service to all of those who care about intellectual honesty. This is a no-holds barred, gloves-off attack, not of the critics of biotechnology, but of the intellectual dishonesty and rampant hucksterism that passes for enlightened debate about issues of complexity nowadays.

Some readers will find the frank, prescriptive nature of some parts of the book unsettling. Good. That is precisely what is required today, to balance the gusher of not-so-frank, less than honest and dictatorial "information" and policy recommendations coming from the other side of the debate.

This book is long overdue, and I cannot recommend it more highly. Miller and Conko challenge you to disagree, and you should feel free to do so. Just make sure you have facts and empirically-based arguments, rather than vague principles in hand, before you venture forth.
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20 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Tuscany on October 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The authors do a masterful job of exposing the misapprehension -- spread by regulators and activists, and abetted by the media -- that "genetic modification" is untested, unproven or unregulated. In fact, it is none of these things, but rather is a more precise tool than earlier techniques that can be used to craft various, extraordinarily useful plants, microbes and animals. That is, it could be used for all these things if over-regulation and the objections of activists can be overcome.

The book is not a defense of biotechnology as much as it is a demand for public policy that is based on science and common sense. It is very readable and very persuasive.
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