Food's Frontier: The Next Green Revolution

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9780865475939: Food's Frontier: The Next Green Revolution
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An eye-opening look at how the world will feed itself in the coming decades

By now it is clear that the techniques of the first "Green Revolution" that averted mass starvation a generation ago --pesticides, chemical fertilizers, focusing on a few key crops--are threatening the food supply for future generations. Interestingly, the solution to this dilemma seems most likely to emerge from the still-developing world, where alternative methods and philosophies, based on indigenous knowledge and native crops as well as genetic engineering and other technological advances, are still possible.
Richard Manning reports on this emerging Green Revolution, placing it in social and political context, and presenting some surprising and controversial solutions to this most pressing environmental problem.

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A generation and more ago, when futurists warned that an ever-expanding population would unleash famine and suffering upon the world, scientists set in motion the so-called Green Revolution. Mixing high-yield seed stock and intensive cultivation with an increased use of chemical pesticides, the Green Revolution proved remarkably successful in feeding the developing nations of the world--but only for a time.

Now, writes journalist Richard Manning, when Earth's population is again exploding--adding a new Mexico City every 12 weeks, as one of the profiled scientists notes--the need to revolutionize agriculture anew is ever more pressing. Traveling to research laboratories and farmers' fields in places such as Uganda, Zimbabwe, India, and China, Manning looks at ways in which researchers are working to improve crop yields, reduce natural pests and diseases, and increase biodiversity, with greater or lesser success. Among their approaches, Manning observes, is the use of genetically modified plants, a matter of intense debate throughout the First World. Urging that readers not dismiss this solution out of hand, Manning points out that genetic engineering is not merely a subject for theoretical discussion, but a fact of life in the agriculture of the developing world.

At the close of his well-paced travelogue, he takes a considered look at the arguments pro and con, acknowledging that there are reasons to be both fearful and optimistic when tinkering with genomes. But, Manning slyly adds, "no one ever said feeding a planet of 6 billion people would be without consequences." --Gregory McNamee

From the Inside Flap:

"Food's Frontier sets a new intellectual standard for placing genomics, biotechnology, and food security into the lives of ordinary people. Richard Manning takes the reader on a worldwide tour of agriculture, displaying both its science-rich and resource-poor systems. His volume combines complex scientific principles with a remarkably accessible style. Above all, Manning demonstrates the shortage of human capital in poor countries and the need for much greater support for Third World scientists." Paul Ehrlich, author of Human Natures

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