"Plants, Power and Profit" aims to provide a clear and sober assessment of the economic social, political and environmental effects of plant biotechnology, presenting the results of the most comprehensive research programme to date on the subject. The authors begin with an asessment of current research in biotechnology. They show that the scale of investment is accelerating rapidly in western Europe, the USA and Japan, and that it is increasingly dominated by a relatively small number of multinational corporations in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries. The potential financial pay-off of patented plants and tissue-culture processes is immense; Japan for example, predicts that by the year 2000 10% of its GNP will be biotechnological in origin, but, the authors argue, there are hazards, both environmental and social. The new life forms introduced via biotechnology, can also dramatically effect local ecology yet the major players in biotechnology have little motivation, the authors argue, to assess the long-term environmental effects. The social consequences may be equally far-reaching - rubber production by tissue-culture will, for instance, could result in the loss of some 20 million jobs mainly concentrated in Southeast Asia.
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