"High-Tech Harvest: A Look At Genetically Engineered Foods"

[SEPT. 20, 2000]   High-Tech Harvest: A Look At Genetically Engineered Foods." Elizabeth L. Marshall, Franklin Watts, 1999, 144 pages.

One of the most controversial developments in the science of food production has been the selective altering of plants and animals. Commonly referred to as "genetically modified foods," this branch of agricultural biotechnology focuses on improving the quality and production of plants and animals used in our daily life by modifying their genetic structure. In her book "High-Tech Harvest," author Elizabeth Marshall examines the scientific, ethical and health implications of this new development in agriculture.

According to Marshall it is now possible for scientists "by using the tools and techniques of genetic engineering to rearrange genes, or to splice genes from one species into another…to create new varieties of plants, pigs, sheep, and fish." Some of the potential benefits of genetically modified foods include naturally lean bacon, crops protected against insects and diseases, apples containing cancer-fighting nutrients, and rice grown in poor soil or cold regions.


Despite the scientific claims, not everyone is convinced of the validity of these benefits or the research presented on the long-term effects on humans and the environment. Critics have raised many questions about the application of this new technology: How will this affect our health? What is the impact on the environment? What is the effect on American agriculture? Will agriculture’s dependence on chemicals, insecticides and pesticides truly be reduced?

According to the author, one controversy stands above all on this subject: labeling. Should genetically modified foods be labeled? Should the modified ingredients be described? What kinds of information would be provided on the labels? Presently the decisions on labeling are the responsibility of the manufacturer and the federal government (through the FDA, EPA or USDA).



[to top of second column]

Marshall’s examination of this controversial subject begins with a review of the new science. She explains the concept of genetic engineering and its applications toward plants and animals. The book also discusses the government’s regulatory role (including the labeling dilemma) and the different objections that have been raised against genetically engineered foods.

One of the most compelling arguments in favor of this new technology is found in Chapter 8, "Feeding A Hungry World." It is here that proponents for genetically modified foods make their strongest argument. The book quotes a 1997 Johns Hopkins University study concluding that 18 million people (mostly children) die each year from starvation and malnutrition. The implications for the need to increase the world’s ability to produce food are obvious. Marshall notes that any realistic chance of genetically modified foods having an impact on developing and third-world countries must overcome two obstacles: "Genetic scientists have paid scant attention to the food crops eaten by people in developing nations [and] many important genetic engineering technologies were developed by companies that are unlikely to freely share their knowledge with poor countries."


"High-Tech Harvest" is a balanced and well-researched work on an agricultural revolution that many Americans have paid little attention to. Marshall looks at both sides of this contentious issue and provides the reader with clear, simplified explanations of the scientific processes at work. A glossary of terms, endnotes and list of additional sources of information complete the book. "High-Tech Harvest" is recommended for anyone who is interested in learning about the field of agricultural biotechnology and its impact on genetically engineered foods.

For more information, visit the library at 725 Pekin St. or call 217-732-8878.

[Richard Sumrall, Lincoln Public Library District]

Think You're Pregnant?



(217) 735-4838

Free and Confidential:
Pregnancy Testing. Information and Counseling. Supportive Services.

#5 Arcade Building, Lincoln

Claire's Needleworks
and Frame Shop
"We Frame It All"
On the square
in downtown Lincoln
M-F 10-5  Sat 10-4

Gossett's Cleaners
will soon be closing to move into our brand new
facilities at 621 Woodlawn.

Please pick up any overdue orders. We regret any inconvenience to our customers.

Back to top


Top Stories | Sports News | Sports Talk | Area Athletes in Action | Out and About | TechLine | Weather | Elsewhere

A Day in the Life... | Milestones | Obituaries | Diaspora

Business & Ag | Organizations | Events | Good Neighbors | Honors & Awards

Ombudsman | Law & Courts | Rural Review

Crosswords | Games

The Arts | Home and Family | Spiritual Life | Health & Fitness | Teaching & Learning | Book Look | Movies & Videos

Still Waters | The Hallway Buzz | What's Up With That? | Where They Stand | the em space
How We Stack Up | By the Numbers

Letters to the Editor | About LDN | Corrections | Happy Ads | Quick Coupon Clip-Outs