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Mendel in the Kitchen: A Scientist's View of Genetically Modified Foods

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  146 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
While European restaurants race to footnote menus, reassuring concerned gourmands that no genetically modified ingredients were used in the preparation of their food, starving populations around the world eagerly await the next harvest of scientifically improved crops. Mendel in the Kitchen provides a clear and balanced picture of this tangled, tricky (and very timely) top ...more
Paperback, 370 pages
Published October 30th 2004 by Joseph Henry Press (first published January 1st 2004)
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Aug 03, 2008 Andrea rated it it was amazing
I grew up in the worst of the worst days of ag biotech – as appalled as the next blossoming vegetarian, environmentalist by the vicious slaughter of monarch butterflies who had feasted on poisonous pollen and visions of dancing tomatoes with fish heads. But as I got older I did a lot of research on the topic of genetically modified foods. And the more I read (of reputable literature – not the plethora of information online), the more I became comfortable with the science behind it.

But I’m not a
Brandt Kurowski
Mar 25, 2013 Brandt Kurowski rated it it was amazing
Consider this a textbook for understanding modern agriculture (where "modern" spans the last several hundred, nay, thousand years). Beginning with a fascinating narrative describing the rich interplay between humans and our crops, from selective breeding to grafting to hybridization to somaclonal variation to mutagenesis to genetic engineering, this book establishes a richly detailed history in which to understand the context of transgenic organisms.

Next up is a tour of the evolution and interna
Dec 17, 2013 Sarah rated it liked it
This might have been better for a non-scientist, because it was pretty basic and only superficially covered the issues of GMOs. The argument was more "this is how we feed people" and less "these are the consequences." When potentially negative impacts were considered, some were quickly dismissed because "they could happen, but they haven't." Other impacts were, again, a little superficial. The last couple of chapters (the "future directions" section) were okay but not as great a discussion as I ...more
Feb 12, 2008 Nancy rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club-book
Genetic engineering from the point of view of someone who approves of it. It's a book to start looking at the arguments for GMO foods. But a little biased. Which would make my friend who works for Monsanto happy.
Feb 28, 2011 Danielle rated it it was ok
This is one of the few books that went back to where it came from - the library. This was just a little too hardcore science for me to finish. Sorry!
Mar 14, 2009 Cindy rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: consumers, farmers, scientists
Many people view genetically modified food with suspicion. 'I would never eat that stuff,' you might say. But if you live in the United States and have eaten apples, wheat, corn, potatoes, soy products, sweet potatoes, or papaya, you might just have eaten genetically modified food (GM food) without knowing it.

My mom and I had a discussion about GM food after I forwarded her this mailing I got from an organic food site. Did I realize, she asked, that strictly speaking, any hybrid food is genetica
Jess Laratonda
Apr 11, 2014 Jess Laratonda rated it it was ok
Biased, Pro-GMO. The many problems with GM foods are overlooked. These crops are currently created & used for reasons that are harmful and unethical, such as to be able to patent staple crops to monopolize profits, and to create crops that withstand more drastic chemical dowsing & increase herbicide and pesticide sales. This book is obviously in favor of GM foods but does not address these problems in their entirety. It's easy to ignore the problems and just go on with your life eating w ...more
Oct 03, 2009 Samantha rated it liked it
This is really quite interesting and a good read for those of you who are sceptical and not exactly sure about GM foods. Nina Fedoroff does a splendid job of communicating to a general audience (which is to say she isn't writing to geneticists but to the general public) about the history of our food concerning cross breeding and selection and genetic modification.
I never finished because I wasn't particularly engaged at the time. But would like to again at some point.
Sep 29, 2016 Ayla rated it it was ok
It got a rating of 2 because I saw no fault in the writing. I found that this book had a lot of facts but they were biased to show Monsanto as a promoter of seeds that would be resistant to pest and herbicides. It made no mention of the suits put out by Monsanto on farmers whose crops had been cross-pollinated by nearby GMO fields, nor of their terminator seeds seed that would not be able to germinate forcing farmers to buy the seeds yearly. These crops also came with the need to buy fertilizer ...more
Jul 27, 2014 J.P. rated it liked it
I got this book because I wanted to understand the science & facts behind GMO's (Genetically Modified Organisms) as opposed to going off of hearsay. It has become a polarizing issue & I wanted to understand why. As with most things, I think it is because people fear what they don't understand & the general scientific illiteracy of the general public. It is a complex subject & a basic understanding of biology & chemistry would go a long way towards understanding the facts prov ...more
Gina Rheault
Jun 15, 2015 Gina Rheault rated it really liked it
This is the pro-GMO scientist point of view, which is an honest perspective. It places GMO as nothing more than a successor technique to things like irradiation and chemical blasting that are used to induce random mutation in traditional plant breeding. The argument is that in rejecting GMO mindlessly, you are throwing away 'good' GMO, like the modified papaya that saved the Hawaiian papaya industry or vitamin-enriched rice. The author breaks down the chemistry of food to argue that no modificat ...more
Sage Livingstone
This book was a great read, packed with information instead of action. It helped me to understand how and why genetically modified organisms are created. It also taught me how GMOs are made from seed, as well as how that seed was changed. The whole thing was very confusing at first, but it got easier to understand as Nina Fedoroff, the author, went more into depth about the process if genetically modified organisms. The importance of GMOs was highlighted in nearly every section and the author al ...more
Nici Mccrary
May 03, 2015 Nici Mccrary rated it it was amazing
This book does an amazing job of explaining all the reasons why genetically modified organisms are not the problem but hold all the potential to be the solution to saving the environment and helping people across the world become more food secure. It explains how greed and economics is getting in the way of true change and sustainable practices that will better every single person on the planet's quality and existence of life. It was a science intensive read in some places but thankfully I have ...more
May 27, 2014 Travis rated it it was amazing
Fantastic! Informative, reasonable, fair, fascinating. This (or other similar books) should be mandatory reading before voting on GMO issues.

The early chapters are heavier on the details of genetic engineering; great if you're interested, but perhaps not as relevant for the average consumer/voter. The later chapters are where the book really shines; they're organized around key topics (are GMOs safe to eat? will they "contaminate" nature? are they compatible with growing food organically? ...sus
Feb 10, 2014 Lance rated it it was amazing
With an Internet stuffed to the brim with misinformation and outright lies about GMO's in our food, this book is like a bubble of oxygen In a sea of hydrogen. Written for the general reader (although a few parts are technical), it relates the history of genetic modification to food (which goes back, oh, to the first person to grow food), and provides REAL answers to the questions that the public has about them. It's almost the ONLY book on the subject that isn't academic or expensive, which is a ...more
Feb 06, 2008 Jen rated it liked it
I don't know why I'm attracted to books that are difficult to read lately, but I did enjoy this book although I felt like I had to have my highlighter out again, cramming for another bio test for the next day.

I learned that not all Frankenfood is really chemically altered (i.e. zapped with radiation or some other hazardous chemicals). I found out that most all of our food that people have been cultivating and harvesting for thousands of years has actually been genetically modified by cross-breed
Jon Allen
This was a really excellent book that gives a firm grounding on the definition of GM Crops, as well as the risks and rewards they pose. It was really enlightening to learn how the negative connotation of GMO is so arbitrary, compared to the myriad methods of cross-breeding and hybridization used. And also that there are extensive protocols and procedures that protect consumers from possible contamination, despite claims to the contrary.

People on either side of the GMO debate should take a look a
Kyle O'Shields
Oct 28, 2016 Kyle O'Shields rated it it was amazing
This book addresses the subject in a way that's accessible to people with little formal training in the subject, but is also detailed enough to give an accurate portrayal of where the concepts and research stands (at the time of the writing of the book. As the book is more than ten years old, some of the information is slightly dated and some developments that have happened since the book's publication are obviously not included). I found it a thoroughly enjoyable read and would recommend it to ...more
John Swindells
Aug 21, 2013 John Swindells rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Essential information for understanding the current controversy over GMO crops. De-mystifies much of the arguments against GMO and provides an understanding of the consequences of discarding proven technologies due to hysteria in the anti-Monsanto campaign presently being waged on the internet. Fairly technical in places, but still readable for the general public, it is well-written, well-organized and will contain surprises for many folks who are concerned about biotechnology. I have read it tw ...more
Joanna Mounce
Jun 30, 2014 Joanna Mounce rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I really liked this book, and I would give it 4 or 5 stars for its ability to hold my interest while still being quite technical. However, I got the feeling while reading that I was only getting half the story from the author. I am very pro-GMO/pro-biotech, but the way she presents the evidence is clearly very one-sided, and I felt like I had to constantly look up the "real" stories while reading.
Callee Jaeger
Jul 16, 2011 Callee Jaeger rated it really liked it
Shelves: informational
Very informative. The first 7 chapters were hard to get through. A lot of science and background information. I should have started with chapter 8. That is where it really starts to pick up. Written for those without a lot of scientific knowledge, detailed. I finally know some of the pesticides ok'd for organic farming. For anyone interested in the GM debate.
This is not a book to change minds. This is a detailed analysis of the science and reality of GM and GMOs. It is dense and heavy and intricate. No one who doesn't understand GMOs would concede to read this, and people who already understand don't need to. That said, probably everyone should read it: to confront their own errors or confirm their own understandings.
Beth Bennett
Jan 15, 2017 Beth Bennett rated it it was amazing
great overview of GM foods from a science perspective but also a great history of plant breeding and development of cultivars; some really scary tools like massive mutation by radiation and chemo- that should make people who are scared of GM reconsider.
Mitch Allen
Apr 01, 2013 Mitch Allen rated it really liked it
An excellent introduction to plant genetics engineering. Clearly presented by an advocate, the book is nonetheless a balanced presentation of the history, practices and state-of-the-art in plant genetics, and a thorough review of policies and issues.
Pat Arnold
May 19, 2016 Pat Arnold rated it really liked it
Great book to understand what is GMO.
It's not too technical, clear and easy presentation. Highly recommended to anyone who genuinely wants to know about GMO.
Mar 19, 2009 Kevin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very scientific-oriented view on genetically engineered foods
Sep 01, 2015 Fredrik rated it it was amazing
Den mest interessante boken jeg har lest kanskje noen gang!
Jeg skal lese den om igjen med en gang.
Jul 03, 2011 Alexander rated it really liked it
An excellent technical background on genetic engineering of food, with policy as context (rather than driving force) for discussion.
Apr 12, 2013 Garrett marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
On pg 111
Dec 21, 2014 Veronica rated it really liked it
a little too much history for me, but very interesting
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“The human population is too large, and the earth too small, to sustain us in the ways our ancestors lived. Most of the land that is good for farming is already being farmed. Yet 80 million more humans are being added to the population each year. The challenge of the coming decades is to limit the destructive effects of agriculture even as we continue to coax ever more food from the earth.” 1 likes
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