Read More: History Matters

“I came at the subject at a good time,” said Charles of his ability to gain candid disclosure from commercial firms and pioneering scientists, both private and public. “The scientific community at that time were very open to talking about it (genetic engineering) as sort of a scientific triumph. That might not have been possible when things got bogged down later in more angry arguments,” he told me during a recent interview.

Beyond traditional row crops, readers of Charles’ book learn more about early failed attempts to bring genetically engineered innovations such as bacteria designed to prevent ice formation on strawberries and traits that delayed ripening in tomatoes.

Another book I like is Belinda Martineau’s “First Fruit.” This book digs deeper into the birth and brief, two-year life span of the slow-to-rot Flavr Savr tomato, which was the first engineered food to be commercialized in the United States.

A good read about the technology risks and benefits for developing countries can be found in “Seeds of Contention: World Hunger and the Global Controversy over GM Crops,” by Per Pinstrup-Andersen and Ebbe Schioler.

To explore other titles and discuss views about biotechnology, food and agriculture, check out the weekly Twitter chat @AgBookClub.

If you missed the first two stories in our series, you can see them at:

Gene Revolution Turns 25 – 1:…

Gene Revolution Turns 25 – 2:…

Pamela Smith can be reached at

Follow her at @PamSmithDTN

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