GMO Food

Briefly Noted: Future Biotech Farmers of America

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“The farmer and cowman should be friends,” the cast of Oklahoma! famously sang. Now the more vicious conflict is between organic and biotech farmers. Tomorrow’s Table (Oxford), by Pamela C. Ronald (a crop biotechnologist at the University of California, Davis) and Raoul W. Adamchak (a farmer who runs the university’s student organic farm), tries to bring the two sides together.

Adamchak points out the benefits to soil fertility and water retention that organic cultivation brings. Ronald makes a persuasive case for the safety of biotech techniques. No one has ever been harmed by growing or eating genetically engineered crops, she notes. Since the technology is contained in the seed, biotech crops especially benefit resource-poor farmers. By boosting food production, biotech crops use less land.

Part memoir, part almanac, part cookbook, part scientific treatise, the book shows that farming doesn’t have to be just organic or biotech; it should be both.