The Genetic Gamble that Threatens to Destroy American Agriculture

Have you ever taken a drive through the Midwestern United States and noticed the endless rows of corn, mile after mile—and that each corn plant identical to all the others?

What you can’t see is that the corn plants are identical not only in their size and shape, but in many other characteristics—including their vulnerability to disease. This genetic uniformity, which might make sense in some commercial respects, leaves the corn crop disturbingly vulnerable to disease. If something comes along that can destroy one of those plants, it can likely destroy millions of them.

There is a way out of this genetic bottleneck. Raeburn explores the problem and provides solutions, in the first book to look at the links between preserving agriculture—and preserving the environment.

It’s an unusual book that will be of interest to food-lovers, environmentalists, and anyone who wants to know where their food comes from.

Praise for The Last Harvest: The Genetic Gamble that Threatens to Destroy American Agriculture

“Raeburn discusses the value of biodiversity to human beings and provides a fascinating account of efforts to preserve old and wild plant species.” 
— The New Yorker
“The disaster of which The Last Harvest warns is in some ways more compelling than an outbreak of a killer disease…a well-written, accessible book on the sort of seemingly esoteric problem often ignored until it becomes an emergency.”
— Gregg Easterbrook, The Washington Monthly
“Raeburn recounts in fascinating detail how science and government have tried to protect our endowment of germplasm through seed banks, breeding programs, botanical gardens and biosphere reserves.” 
— The New York Times Book Review
“An outstanding successor to Silent Spring. It’s a gripping yet even-handed account of what happens when good science meets bad public policy.” 
— San Francisco Examiner

More books by Paul Raeburn