Dinner at the New Gene Cafe
Bill Lambrecht
book reviews:
· general fiction
· chick lit/romance
· sci-fi/fantasy
· graphic novels
· nonfiction
· audio books

Click here for the curledup.com RSS Feed

· author interviews
· children's books @
· DVD reviews @

win books
buy online


for authors
& publishers

for reviewers

click here to learn more

Buy *Dinner at the New Gene Cafe : How Genetic Engineering Is Changing What We Eat, How We Live, and the Global Politics of Food* online Dinner at the New Gene Cafe:
How Genetic Engineering Is Changing What We Eat, How We Live, and the Global Politics of Food

Bill Lambrecht
St. Martin's Press
383 pages
September 2001
rated 3 of 5 possible stars

previous reviewnext review

Bill Lambrecht, Washington correspondent for the St.Louis Post-Dispatch, writes in Dinner At The New Gene Cafe about his worldwide experiences with genetically modified organisms (GMOs). His journey and many related events started in 1986 when he first encountered a U.S. Department of Agriculture experiment engineering human genes into pigs. By the mid-1990s genetic engineers were harnessing the power of Cry9C, a crystalline protein, or endotoxin, from the Bacillus thuringiensis. This Bt bacterium, isolated from a naturally occurring soil organism, was being spliced into corn, potatoes, and cotton.

Curled Up With a Good BookLambrecht follows the travails of the Monsanto Company, headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, when it begins to apply gene-slicing techniques in experiments on plants. According to the author, the company intended to modify the DNA in products like soybeans, corn, cotton, and other food commodities in order to increase resistance to scavenger pests (e.g., corn borers, boll weevils), weeds, and chemicals like their popular herbicide, Roundup, thus, increasing the expected yield and efficiency of new GMO seeds with more markets, trade, and profits to follow. He reports on many of Monsanto's struggles and the politicization of the new technology, promising products and applications (e.g., golden rice) though-out the '90s.

Later, the author details how biotech companies rush to buy up seed companies in order to expand, exploit, and control more of the total production and sale of patented GMO seeds modified to be sterile: that is, seeds that cannot be legally planted or saved successfully beyond a stipulated planting/harvesting season. Monsanto's "technology protection system," called, "The Terminator," by Pat Mooney, co-founder of Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI), spreads a rapacious view of this news story globally. Apparently this ill-advised development, and other Monsanto-initiated proposals/ads, polarized national, international, scientific, agricultural, and cultural positions and invigorated interest groups willing to fight over perceived needs for governmental regulation of GMOs, food/environmental safety, food labeling, trade relations, "cautionary principles," and multi-national corporate interests globally.

In Dinner At The New Gene Cafe, Monsanto becomes a symbol of biotechnology and science trying to win acceptance from diverse consumers, governments, environmentalists, farmers, organic food growers, native cultures, and emergent forces arguing for freedom of choice, safety, and independence from exported food technology, monopolistic U.S. corporate arrogance, greed, power, patents, and expanded global influence. Early on the author acquires surreptitiously a small quantity of genetically modified soybeans. He plants them in a vegetable garden in two rows next to a few rows of conventional beans. He reports periodically on their viability as we tread in parallel fashion down new pathways for dialogue (e.g., the internet), assessment, and collective decision making on issues now focused on free trade, GMO modified foods, food ingredients, safety, and the future of modified food crops and resistant seeds undergoing trial plantings and sabotage.

This book is recommended for any one who seriously considers what they eat. The views presented are helpful not so much for conclusions reached, but more for engaging us in a dialogue about the values, role, power, and meaning of foods and the place of food sciences in societies and cultures of the world. What do we want and need to know about food today and in the future? What personal, societal, and global life chances and consequences are we willing to take with food and with what attendant risks to inhabitants, life forms, and environments everywhere on and in the planet?

© 2002 by David L. Johnson, Ph. D. for Curled Up With a Good Book

buy *Dinner at the New Gene Cafe : How Genetic Engineering Is Changing What We Eat, How We Live, and the Global Politics of Food* online
click here for more info
Click here to learn more about this month's sponsor!

fiction · sf/f · comic books · nonfiction · audio
newsletter · free book contest · buy books online
review index · links · · authors & publishers

site by ELBO Computing Resources, Inc.