Biotechnology Unzipped: Promises and Realities (1997)
Joseph Henry Press (JHP)
The views expressed in this book are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Academies.
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Chapter 4
Biotechnology on the Farm

Is biotechnology the answer to a hungry world's food supply, or is that only self-serving rhetoric from a profit-hungry agribusiness? You hear both sides in the talk over biotech on the farm and it's not always easy to sort out the facts from the propaganda. Where food is concerned, people are especially wary. Will genetically engineered foods cause health problems? How does changing technology affect farmers? What impacts will it have on the environment? As the first products of agricultural biotechnology reach supermarket shelves, the debates seem likely to continue for some time.

There's no escaping the fact that agriculture is BIG business. The production and marketing of food and other farm products, such as cotton and tobacco, make up the world's largest single industrial sector. Applications of biotechnology in agriculture rank second only to those in medicine, and estimates of the potential market range as high as $67 billion per year as the 21st century begins. It's no surprise that companies such as Monsanto—a major agricultural biotechnology corporation with


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