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Beyond Biotechnology

Author: Craig Holdrege
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
ISBN: 0813129478
Size: 68.69 MB
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In 2001 the Human Genome Project announced that it had successfully mapped the entire genetic content of human DNA. Scientists, politicians, theologians, and pundits speculated about what would follow, conjuring everything from nightmare scenarios of state-controlled eugenics to the hope of engineering disease-resistant newborns. As with debates surrounding stem-cell research, the seemingly endless possibilities of genetic engineering will continue to influence public opinion and policy into the foreseeable future. Beyond Biotechnology: The Barren Promise of Genetic Engineering distinguishes between the hype and reality of this technology and explains the nuanced and delicate relationship between science and nature. Authors Craig Holdrege and Steve Talbott evaluate the current state of genetic science and examine its potential applications, particularly in agriculture and medicine, as well as the possible dangers. The authors show how the popular view of genetics does not include an understanding of the ways in which genes actually work together in organisms. Simplistic and reductionist views of genes lead to unrealistic expectations and, ultimately, disappointment in the results that genetic engineering actually delivers. The authors explore new developments in genetics, from the discovery of “non-Darwinian” adaptative mutations in bacteria to evidence that suggests that organisms are far more than mere collections of genetically driven mechanisms. While examining these issues, the authors also answer vital questions that get to the essence of genetic interaction with human biology: Does DNA “manage” an organism any more than the organism manages its DNA? Should genetically engineered products be labeled as such? Do the methods of the genetic engineer resemble the centuries-old practices of animal husbandry? Written for lay readers, Beyond Biotechnology is an accessible introduction to the complicated issues of genetic engineering and its potential applications. In the unexplored space between nature and laboratory, a new science is waiting to emerge. Technology-based social and environmental solutions will remain tenuous and at risk of reversal as long as our culture is alienated from the plants and animals on which all life depends.

The Real Cost Of Cheap Food

Author: Michael Carolan
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 1136529764
Size: 61.21 MB
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This challenging but accessible book critically examines the dominant food regime on its own terms, by seriously asking whether we can afford cheap food and exploring what exactly cheap food affords us. Detailing the numerous ways that food has become reduced to a state, such as a price per ounce, combination of nutrients, yield per acre, or calories, the book argues for a more contextual understanding of food when debating its affordability. The author makes a compelling case for why today's global food system produces just the opposite of what it promises. The food produced under this regime is in fact exceedingly expensive. Thus meat production and consumption are inefficient uses of resources and contribute to climate change; the use of pesticides in industrial-scale agriculture may produce cheap food, but there are hidden costs to environmental protection, human health and biodiversity conservation. Many of these costs will be paid for by future generations – cheap food today may mean expensive food tomorrow. By systematically assessing these costs the book delves into issues related, but not limited, to international development, national security, health care, industrial meat production, organic farming, corporate responsibility, government subsidies, food aid and global commodity markets. The book concludes by suggesting ways forward, going beyond the usual solutions such as farmers markets, community supported agriculture, and community gardens. Exploding the myth of cheap food requires we have at our disposal a host of practices and policies. Some of those proposed and explored include microloans, subsidies for consumers, vertical agriculture, and the democratization of subsidies for producers.

Society And The Environment

Author: Michael Carolan
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 0429974256
Size: 69.54 MB
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Society and the Environment examines today's environmental controversies within a socio-organizational context. After outlining the contours of 'pragmatic environmentalism', Carolan considers the pressures that exist where ecology and society collide, such as population growth and its associated increased demands for food and energy. He also investigates how various ecological issues, such as climate change, are affecting our very own personal health. Finally, he drills into the social/structural dynamics (including political economy and the international legal system) that create ongoing momentum for environmental ills. This interdisciplinary text features a three-part structure in each chapter that covers 'fast facts' about the issue at hand, examines its wide-ranging implications, and offers balanced consideration of possible real-world solutions. New to this edition are 'Movement Matters' boxes, which showcase grassroots movements that have affected legislation. Discussion questions and key terms enhance the text's usefulness, making Society and the Environment the perfect learning tool for courses on environmental sociology.