Pamela: And many people don't realize that in less developed countries, the seed industry is very different. In the past, most of these countries have had national breeding programs that distribute the seed for free. It's a completely different model than what we have in the United States, where virtually all of the seed is privatized.
What's the take-home message of this book, especially for people who aren't particularly interested in agriculture?
Pamela: We haven't really talked about nutrition and land use, and that's often of interest to people who aren't interested in farming. If we hadn't genetically modified our crops by conventional methods over the last 50 years, we would be using twice as much of the Earth's surface to grow the same amount of food. In the future, if we don't increase yields, we'll need to use double the amount of land to produce the same amount of food. In terms of nutrition, vitamin A-enriched GE rice has the potential to save the lives of thousands of children who currently suffer from vitamin A deficiency.
Do you seem to be winning friends with the book?
Pamela: It's a little early to say, but we're getting some comments back. I think there have been a lot of people thinking about this but not publishing widely on this. This situation sort of reminds me of that children's story about the emperor's new clothes. Everybody was afraid to point out the obvious. Once you have a few people calling and saying the emperor has no clothes, I think it will help change things. I think more and more people are starting to speak out.