Uncertain Peril: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Seeds

By Claire Hope Cummings | Go to book overview

SIX

The Botany of Scarcity

The crops that feed the world are on a collision
course with climate change, water, energy con-
straints and expanding populations. A perfect
storm is brewing.

CARY FOWLER,
Global Crop Diversity Trust


Svalbard, Norway

Teams of scientists from all over the globe have gathered here to measure the glaciers, check changes in air temperature and sea levels, and calculate the rising amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. They are working out models and predictions for how much time the world as we know it has left. Meanwhile, outside the human settlements, reindeer roaming on the tundra are getting tangled in discarded measuring instruments, and polar bears are shuffling around looking for food, having been forced ashore by melting ice.

“Svalbard is a place to watch like a hawk,” says journalist Fred Pearce, because of its sensitivity to changing climate conditions and because of the sheer amount of scientific study that goes on here. And, I would add, because this is where the Doomsday Vault is under construction. Plans call for drilling a tunnel deep into the mountainside, ending in two large rooms. Once completed, these rooms will have the capacity to store 3 million seeds,

-106-

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Uncertain Peril: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Seeds
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • A Note on the Terminology ix
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction xv
  • The Rise of the Techno-Elites 1
  • One - Trade Secrets 3
  • Two - Trespass 23
  • Three - Political Science 45
  • Four - The Ownership Society 65
  • The Turning Points 85
  • Five - Who Owns Rice? 87
  • Six - The Botany of Scarcity 106
  • Seven - The Botany of Abundance 128
  • A Green Wealth 145
  • Eight - Ripe for Change 147
  • Nine - A Conversation with Corn 163
  • Ten - The Down-Turned Hand 179
  • A Cabinet of Seeds Displayed 193
  • Epilogue - The Seeded Earth 195
  • Acknowledgments 206
  • Sources and Resources 209
  • Index 219
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