Changing the Menu

My friends and I are young and hip. We buy local, ride bikes, vote for Nader, and we do not despise conspiracy theory. Corporations and Cheez Whiz, suburbs and SUVs, global warming and GMOs (that's genetically modified organisms)—all bad. When our college debts are paid, we'll buy a farm together. Meanwhile, we swap e-mails: "GMOs Taint Tacos!" "Bt Corn Kills Butterflies!" "Monsanto Bankrupts Farmers!"

Monsanto is the St. Louis-based Microsoft of the biotech world, best known for Roundup Ready soybeans, built to withstand a weed-killing dose of the company's most profitable herbicide, and Bt corn, engineered with a gene from Bacillus thuringiensis to poison caterpillars. Depending on your perspective, Monsanto's a start-small, dream-big company that will revolutionize agriculture and end hunger, or a profit-mad corporation out to crush its competitors and wreck the environment. I have friends who say "MonSatan," and it always startles me. Surely, I think, there's more to this story. And so there is—in Daniel Charles' wise and generous new book, Lords of the Harvest: Biotech, Big Money, and the Future of Food.

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Sojourners Magazine March-April 2002
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