By the year 2050, Earth's population will double. If we continue with current farming practices, vast amounts of wilderness will be lost, millions of birds and billions of insects will die, and the public will lose billions of dollars as a consequence of environmental degradation. Clearly, there must be a better way to meet the need for increased food production.
Written as part memoir, part instruction, and part contemplation, Tomorrow's Table argues that a judicious blend of two important strands of agriculture--genetic engineering and organic farming--is key to helping feed the world's growing population in an ecologically balanced manner. Pamela Ronald, a geneticist, and her husband, Raoul Adamchak, an organic farmer, take the reader inside their lives for roughly a year, allowing us to look over their shoulders so that we can see what geneticists and organic farmers actually do. The reader sees the problems that farmers face, trying to provide larger yields without resorting to expensive or environmentally hazardous chemicals, a problem that will loom larger and larger as the century progresses. They learn how organic farmers and geneticists address these problems.
This book is for consumers, farmers, and policy decision makers who want to make food choices and policy that will support ecologically responsible farming practices. It is also for anyone who wants accurate information about organic farming, genetic engineering, and their potential impacts on human health and the environment.
The most ecologically balanced way to increase crop yield and decrease the environmental impact of food production is to use both organic farming and genetic engineering (GE). So argue Ronald, a plant geneticist at the University of California, Davis, and her husband, Adamchak, an organic farmer who serves as the market coordinator at the university's organic farm. Using an eclectic mix of writing styles including instruction, personal story, reflection, and recipes, the authors make their case, explaining genetic modification from traditional plant breeding to laboratory gene splicing in clear prose that general readers can understand. Their personal stories illustrate the workings of an organic farm and the ethical morass consumers face when buying groceries. The authors create nostalgia and empathy by reflecting on private moments in their lives, but the recipes (culinary and laboratory) interspersed throughout the book are an odd and somewhat distracting addition. While not a comprehensive review of GE, this book offers a compelling portrait of how GE and organic farming can coexist for the future betterment. A good addition to any public library.