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Uncertain Peril

Genetic Engineering and the Future of Seeds
Narrated by: David Henry
Length: 7 hrs and 54 mins
1 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Publisher's Summary

Life on earth is facing unprecedented challenges from global warming, war, and mass extinctions. The plight of seeds is a less visible but no less fundamental threat to our survival. Seeds are at the heart of the planet's life-support systems. Their power to regenerate and adapt are essential to maintaining our food supply and our ability to cope with a changing climate.

In Uncertain Peril, environmental journalist Claire Hope Cummings exposes the stories behind the rise of industrial agriculture and plant biotechnology, the fall of public interest science, and the folly of patenting seeds. She examines how farming communities are coping with declining water, soil, and fossil fuels, as well as with new commercial technologies. Will genetically engineered and "terminator" seeds lead to certain promise, as some have hoped, or are we embarking on a path of uncertain peril? Will the "doomsday vault" under construction in the Arctic, designed to store millions of seeds, save the genetic diversity of the world's agriculture?

To answer these questions and others, Cummings takes listeners from the Fertile Crescent in Iraq to the island of Kaua'i in Hawaii; from Oaxaca, Mexico, to the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. She examines the plight of farmers who have planted transgenic seeds and scientists who have been persecuted for revealing the dangers of modified genes.

At each turn, Cummings looks deeply into the relationship between people and plants. She examines the possibilities for both scarcity and abundance and tells the stories of local communities that are producing food and fuel sustainably and providing for the future. The choices we make about how we feed ourselves now will determine whether or not seeds will continue as a generous source of sustenance and remain the common heritage of all humanity. It comes down to this: Whoever controls the future of seeds controls the future of life on earth.

Uncertain Peril is a powerful reminder that what's at stake right now is nothing less than the nature of the future.

©2008 Claire Hope Cummings (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"A must-read for anyone concerned about plants and what the privatization and manipulation of seeds may mean for the future of food." (Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma)

"This fine volume provides the details of the way we do things now - and the keys to getting towards a farming future that might actually work." (Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy)

"Although the advent of GM foods has been described and criticized before, Uncertain Peril is the most coherent, complete, compelling, and well-written account yet." (Chip Ward, author of Hope's Horizon)

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Slanted and Boring Book

An extremely slanted book toward organic farming. It did have some interesting information, but was difficult to finish because it was so unbalanced. There was not one
acknowledgment that the current industrial farming with all of its faults feeds 7.5 billion people and that without nitrogen fertilizer production via the Haber-Bosch process fewer than 2 billion people would be able to live on this planet. Maintenance of biodiversity is important, but farming this way will remain a niche bossiness. Besides there is nothing better than a nicely marble prime steak from a GMO fed steer, ($6 less a pound than grass fed) washed down with an old fashion prepared with a high fructose corn syrup sweetened soda. I wish the author would live a little.