From Publishers Weekly
Former environmental lawyer and one-time farmer Cummings offers a persuasive account of a lesser-known but potentially apocalyptic threat to the world's ecology and food supply—the privatization of the Earth's seed stock. For almost a century, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has provided seeds at no cost to farmers who then saved seeds from one harvest to another, eventually developing strains best suited to local or regional climates. But Cummings also tells how seeds became lucrative, patentable private properties for some of the nation's most powerful agribusinesses. Cummings bemoans the plague of sameness intensified by the advent of such fitfully regulated companies as Monsanto, which now not only own genetically modified seed varieties, but also sue farmers when wind inevitably blows seeds onto their neighboring fields. According to Cummings, this tyranny of the technological[ly]elite threatens agricultural diversity and taints food sources. Among the author's many startling statistics is that 97% of 75 vegetables whose seeds were once available from the USDA are now extinct. Cummings heralds plans for a Doomsday Vault to shelter existing natural seed stock, and finds comfort in organic farming's growth, but her authoritative portrait of another way in which our planet is at peril provides stark food for thought. (Mar.)
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A must-read for anyone concerned about plants and what the privatization and manipulation of seeds may mean for the future of food. —Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma
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"This fine volume provides the details of the way we do things now-and the keys to getting towards a farming future that might actually work."—Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy
"Although the advent of GM foods has been described and criticized before, Uncertain Peril is the most coherent, complete, compelling, and well-written account yet."—Chip Ward, author of Hope's Horizon
"Highly readable . . . Cummings uses her finely tuned storytelling skills to explain why crop diversity is important, who controls commercial seeds, and why it matters that the biotech industry has tried to systematically destroy . . . the age-old right of farmers to save and reproduce their own seeds."—Hope Shand, Grist
"Uncertain Peril gives us passionate and persuasive reasons why we need more public discussion of the risks and benefits of agricultural biotechnology. Cummings never loses sight of the key question: Who decides what foods we eat?"—Marion Nestle, author of Food Politics and What to Eat
"The clearest and most passionate analysis and overview of the biotech seeds debate I've ever encountered."—Pat Mooney, author of Shattering
"I hope everyone reads it!" —John Seabrook, staff writer, the New Yorker
"[Cummings's] persuasive book reminds us all that we can no longer be passive observers to the world around us-our future depends on it. Highly recommended." —Library Journal, starred review
"A persuasive account of a lesser-known but potentially apocalyptic threat to the world's ecology and food supply-the privatization of the Earth's seed stock . . . stark food for thought." —Publishers Weekly
"A meticulous and lucid exposé . . . this wake-up call should renew public debate about our food and land use." —Booklist, starred review
From the Trade Paperback edition.