Jeffrey M. Smith 'Genetic Roulette  -  the documented health 
risks of genetically engineered foods'  329+pp hardback, 2007  Yes! 
Books    P O Box 469  Fairfield Iowa

reviewed by L R B Mann

	This is the best book on GM-food - as Prof Samuel S Epstein 
puts it on the cover, "the most comprehensive, well-documented and 
highly readable exposť on the serious health dangers of GM foods". 
Over 300 pp, near-A4, attractively laid out like a textbook, cover 
the subject more thoroughly than has been done previously, and 

	The first half of the book is brilliantly laid out.  Each 
opening consists of the L page with a highlighted relevant quote and 
a few conclusions in large type, based on the details on the other p. 
For instance, pp.60-61 'A GM food suplement killed about 100 people 
and caused 5,000 - 10,000 to fall sick', tells what would be known in 
a democracy about the novel illness EMS caused by L-tryptophan mfd 
1984-89 by Showa Denko, the only mfr to use GM-bacilli to increase 
yield (I would not concede Smith's 'more economically').  The page of 
small print states key details  -  probably the last round of small 
changes before the facts become widely standardised  -  unref'd 'CDC 
officials' stating the numbers in the Headline, which are indeed as 
indicated by the scholarly literature.
	In 2002 Nature Biotek printed the briefest summary of the EMS 
disaster (within The Schubert Letter).  That jnl responded with a 
letter from leading DNA-wankers Roger Beachy, Wayne Parrott etc 
purporting to deny the main facts. I doubt they'll do that a 
half-decade later, notwithstanding the refusal of leading medical 
jnls to publish a scholarly account of the GM-tryptophan disaster. 
The Eichelbaum travesty also misrepresented this important disaster. 
Smith's account is right.  Now let's see whether any govts take 

	One obvious weakness is the near-absence of diagrams.  Some 
of the concepts entailed in GM are best explained with the help of 
diagrams, so it is a surprise to see so few.  Perhaps a future 
edition can add more.

  	I'm listed in the index with the same number of quotes  -  5 
-  as Prof Jack Heinemann of our other island.  I'm flattered, as 
Jack is an involved practitioner whereas I'm no longer at the bench 
-  indeed, Smith's habit of identifying me as 'University of 
Auckland', without my prior knowledge let alone permission, may annoy 
some at that institution whence I retired many y ago.  But I don't 
expect any direct complaints about the quotes.  Perhaps my favourite 
has a page of its own starting the 5-openings Section 6 on the theme 
'GM crops may increase environmental toxins and bioaccumulate toxins 
in the food chain': from my statement to the supreme court of India:
		The gene-manipulators claim they can foresee the 
evolutionary results of their artificial transposings of human genes 
into sheep, bovine genes into tomatoes, altered bacterial genes into 
eggplant, etc.  But such claims are a reflection more of arrogance 
than of scientific analysis. 

	In Sep 2000 I lectured the Ak branch of the RSNZ, mentioning 
inter alia:
		The depraved trade of mercenary deception, commonly 
called PR, has enormous influence in the suppression and distortion 
of information about GM.  It is easy to predict the reactions to 
Genetic Roulette of the PR agents who still exert for Monsanto etc a 
near-stranglehold on public utterances about GM:
first ignore, pretending the book doesn't exist;
then, if praise emerges (as it did for Rachel Carson from Pres. 
Kennedy), vilify the author.  There are tiny errors  -  far fewer 
than in many more prestigious works lately  -  and the PR agents will 
wildly exaggerate pecadilloes in attempt to invalidate the whole 
message.  It's an old deceitful game.  I doubt it will work on this 
book which is generally well referenced and fair.

	Smith is himself a capable marketer.  The first 4 pp. before 
the title p. in this new book are endorsements from D T Suzuki, 
Epstein, Pusztai, and many celebrities.  The cover mentions  -  could be cheaper than your bookshop ? 
...   The final page plugs 'More products by Jeffrey M. Smith'  -  
viz.  4 books.
	One dimension of PR strife not yet tried on is implied by 
that address Fairfield, Iowa  -  HQ of the most vigorous Hare Krishna 
sect, Maharishi U of Management.  To me as a Christian it's 
embarrassing that such feeble opposition to GM has yet emerged from 
the Church, and more effective, reliable opposition has, to date, 
emanated from this sect. Affiliated there is the brilliant John 
Fagan, a reliable source of science on the Showa Denko GM-tryptophan, 
and provider of a valuable commercial service of GM-food assays in 
the range (e.g 0.1%) of contamination that is still (contrary to the 
hopes of Monsanto etc) causing strenuous objections & consumer 
resistance.  Fagan has not been used by the NZ Govt during any of the 
long-drawn-out unintelligible PR-stunts around alleged low-level 
GM-contamination of maize, diabolically designed to annoy the public 
with questions they could not understand let alone resolve.
    The effect, and I'm sure the purpose, of these media stunts has 
been to convince most citizens that GM-food is a hopelessly 
incomprehensible issue, so they shrug their shoulders and leave it to 
expensive corrupt rubber-stamp agencies ERMA, ANZFA, etc.  As one 
election campaign was warming up with some publicity for the Green 
party's opposition to GM-food and to uncontained GMOs generally, a 
suspiciously complete dossier on some at most marginally 
GM-contaminated maize was 'leaked' to a long-time campaigner against 
the PR trade, N Hager.  The media gave a lot of airtime, but little 
clarity, to govt denials, cover-ups etc; but no clear picture ever 
emerged on the measurements, let alone their significance.  The whole 
flurry was emotive, uninformative, and infuriating to most.  Green 
support dropped from 10% to 5.2% by the time of the election.  Absent 
reliable info such as Smith now makes available, people recoil from 
GM as incomprehensible, and resent being bothered by it.
	The question now is whether the media will start to tell the 
truth about GM.  A monster wasting $10^11 gathers some momentum, even 
when almost all the corporations "doing" it have yet to win a dollar 
of revenue, let alone net a profit.  Media that have no advertising 
revenue from such corporations with nothing to sell should surely be 
less credulous about the lies on which GM depends.  Let the media get 
Smith's Genetic Roulette, and face up to this danger rather than 
continuing to propagandise for it.