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Excerpts from Lords of the Harvest: Biotech, Big Money, and the Future of Food


   "I grew up in the middle of the American agrarian ideal, on a small family farm in Pennsylvania ....

From Chapter 1:  The First Transformation

    "The scientists in Miami may not have realized it immediately, but in that moment their field had changed."

From Chapter 3:  "Everything Was Worth Doing"

    "Act I of Monsanto's quest for genetically altered crops, the era of untrammeled scientific exploration, was about to end."

From Chapter 7:  Triumphs of Tinkering

    "The idea came, as they say, out of left field.  Actually, it hurtled into the field of biotechnology like an unwelcome projectile from the bleachers, from a bystander ..."

From Chapter 9:  Seed Wars

    "Robb Fraley seized on the analogy of the computer industry.  A seed was hardware, like the electronic circuits of a computer; Monsanto gene was the software that would turn it into a useful tool."

From Chapter 10:  The Tomato That Ate Calgene

    "Calgene could have been a tidy little research operation, and it might even have made money."

From Chapter 12:  Summers of Triumph, Summers of Discord

    "Frank Mitchener, Jr., amateur historian, former president of the National Cotton Council, and prominent citizen of Tallahatchie County, Mississippi, works from an office that is built like a chapel, or an art gallery."

From Chapter 13:  Power Plays

    "This was the culmination of Monsantoís twenty-year foray into biotechnology. All the scientific curiosity, the exhilaration of discovery and creation; All the personal ambitions, the dreams of doing good in the world, and the overwrought promises of boundless financial reward: It had all come down to this fateful roll of the dice ..."

From Chapter 14:  Backlash

    "As the days grew warmer and farmers prepared the ground for planting, the "Guy Watson affair" erupted. It was the first of what Patrick Holden, chairman of Britainís largest organic farmersí group, the Soil Association, referred to as "acts of God."

From Chapter 16:  The Deluge

    "The campaign of conciliation reached its high point in October, when Robert Shapiro himself addressed a Greenpeace conference in London. Initially, Greenpeaceís invitation had been treated as a joke. One executive sent out an April Foolís e-mail ..."

From Chapter 17:  Global Claims

    "My questions are finished. I thank the farmer and close my notebook, ready to leave. But Bruno de la Luz has his own agenda."

From the Epilogue

    "Storytellers are not onlookers in this battle; we are, if anything, its grand strategists.  The dispute over genetic engineering involves facts, to be sure.  But its parties disagree far more passionately over the story.  They quarrel over the nature of the characters, over the plot, and over the editing.  They also feud over the unknowable:  the ending."