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Tomorrow's Table: Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food Paperback – January 8, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0195393576 ISBN-10: 0195393570 Edition: Reprint

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (January 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195393570
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195393576
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 9.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,324 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

With the world’s population projected to grow some 50 percent by midcentury, rigorous agricultural planning becomes indispensable to forestall the onset of ecological and human disaster. Ronald and Adamchak, a wife-husband team from the University of California at Davis, combine the training and insights of a geneticist and the know-how of a committed organic farmer. They examine the often-passionate debate about genetically engineered food and how it may affect the food supply of the future, meticulously dissecting arguments for and against such application of science. This wildly eccentric book juxtaposes deep scientific analysis of genetically engineered agriculture with recipes for such homey kitchen staples as cornbread and chocolate chip cookies. In a marvelously useful table, they outline a history of biological technology from 4000 BC through the dawn of the twenty-first century. A glossary of agricultural genetics and an extensive bibliography supplement the text. --Mark Knoblauch --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

Interspersed with nuggets of science, home made recipes (really) and anecdotes. Biologist

More About the Author

Pamela Ronald is Professor of Plant Pathology and Chair of the Plant Genomics Program at the University of California, Davis, where she studies the role that genes play in a plant's response to its environment. Send messages to pcronald/ at/ ucdavis/ dot/ edu

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Phil Stewart on August 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I was given this book by a friend who is an organic "true believer" and when he handed me a book I sort of expect a re-hashing of the usual pro-organics arguments I've heard many times over the years. Instead I was pleasantly surprised.

The book is straight forward, well-reasoned, and accessible. I have a background in agriculture and molecular biology, and so at times I found the science a tad too simplistic to strongly hold my interest, but I suspect that for the average reader, it strikes a nice balance between addressing the subject fully and excessive complexity and jargon. The case they build is in my view quite compelling, and I hope this book serves to open many minds.

When I was starting out in plant science, I remember a professor telling me that when the first transgenics were being developed, he really thought the organics crowd would be the biggest supporters. "We'd just come up with a solution to their biggest problems, but instead they decided we were the enemy". Although I think that organics are, ultimately, a positive development in agriculture, they are like most "movements" a mixture of real reasons and irrational, emotional impulses. Although organic agriculture has been an important step towards a sustainable future, it has brought with it a fair amount of baggage, based on not on science or reason, but on a nostalgic idealization of traditional agriculture--even though such agriculture was often neither natural nor sustainable nor especially desirable, even then. The fear of genetic engineering seems to me to come from that deeply conservative undercurrent in an otherwise progressive movement.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Rainy314 on January 13, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I can only give this book a 2 star rating, as there is only about 2/5th of the book that are worth reading. If that!

I purchased the book with the hope of finally finding proof that Organic and GM farming can be combined for the betterment of society and our health.

What I did not expect was a book about a married couple, their vacations, their fights with family, what they taught in class on any given day, what they ordered from seed catalogues, or their favorite recipes. I have enough recipe books, I can look through my own seed catalogues, and quite frankly I don't know them well enough to care about what goes on in their lives.

This is a very important topic & they do have some good ideas. But they buried it in superfluous fluff that was boring to the average reader, making it difficult to ferret out the real topic at hand. Not too technical by any means. It was just boring and the majority of it not to the point at all.

I wanted to give up on the book several times and consider it money wasted. I came back here and reread the reviews to see why it got such a high rating and noted all the reviews that said it didn't get good till at least halfway through, or the last chapter. So I tried again, skimming through page after page, skipping page upon page of recipes, looking for the "good part" to finally arrive. It finally did, but it was a lot of work to get to that little bit of true information.

The previous reviews are dead on about not getting good till about halfway through or even only the last chapter. So if you feel that paying the price of the book to read about their lives but actually only get some good information out of less than 20% of the book is worth it, by all means go for it. Personally I wish I'd saved my money.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By J. Canestrino on July 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I made it through the book in a day or two. It is not overly technical; it is an excellent introduction to biotech and organic farming. I did not really get into the book until the last chapter; I guess I kept wishing for more technical information, for the authors to drive home their point of view.

However, the point they are trying to make cannot be more important. That is that biotech has a place in organic farming to make it more "sustainable". RoundUp ready crops have made it possible for farmers to stop using much more damaging and toxic herbicides and to go to no-till farming to preserve topsoil. It is the only answer for some problems sometimes, such as virus resistance. It would allow conventional farmers of sweet corn to stop using a slew of really noxious insecticides.

Like Dr. Savage said in his review, I do not think that the organic farming movement is going to "hear" this message and see the wisdom in it, but if they could I think they would have to redefine the way they think of organic vs. sustainable.
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23 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Steven D. Savage on May 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Pam and Raul's very well written book makes the rational and even emotional argument that biotechnology is fully compatible with the core ideals of the organic movement. I completely agree with that position looking back to my grandfather's version of "organic" from the 1960s.

I wish I could believe that Pam and Raul's logical arguments will fly with the core of the "organic consumer" movement. They make excellent rational arguments. I'm not sure this debate is about that. As Mark Twain said, "you can't reason someone out of a position they weren't reasoned into in the first place."

As much as I wish otherwise, I'm not optimistic that this book will succeed in its aim to reconcile "organic" and "biotech". Even so, it does a great job of explaining the societal benefits of biotech crops and it helps to humanize the people that have made this a reality.

This is a book that everyone focused on the environment should read.

Steven Savage, Ph.D.
savage.sd@gmail.com
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