women and life on earth bookshelf

Food sovereignty

Gene Wars
The Politics of Biotechnology

Kristin Dawkins

Seven Stories Press, New York 1997
60p. $4.95 ISBN 1-888363-48-7 Pb

Perfect for finding out about biotechnology while riding the bus. This handy booklet, part of the Open Media Pamphlet Series, looks at the political and social ramifications of increased dependence on genetically engineered seeds and plants: "we will see how a diversified gene pool is crucial to food production - and how corporate control of the gene pool threatens our collective security." Ms Dawkins explains how international agreements (globalization) have favored large agribusiness corporations, while driving farmers in the North America and small farmers overseas out of business. GATT, NAFTA, WTO and Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) are all explained in straightforward language. The final pages review the problems posed by development and promotion of genetically altered seeds and foods.

Are there advantages? "Recently," she writes, "the emphasis has been on developing plant varieties that can withstand massive doses of a company's own herbicide... As these chemical behemoths (the agribusiness corporations - ed.) use seeds, the essence of all future plant life, to fight for control of the herbicide market, a few naysayers ask: does society really need more chemicals to be used more widely on the farm?"

There is certainly enough information and questions here to make anyone wonder why we have to deal with this problem in the first place.

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