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For a book titled fly in the ointment, its ironic that Schwarcz writes in support of various technologies (from DDT to Teflon to GMOs) without mentioning any possible side effects or unintended consequences...and presents the reader with anecdotes, paired with woefully incomplete information, in support of his arguments. Perhaps the later sections are of higher quality, but Im fed up with fact-checking. I was rather hoping a non-fiction book would handle some of the fact-checking for me.In the first chapter, which is (also ironically) titled Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics, Schwarcz condescends to two women he overhears discussing international flights (as if anyone who jokes about deep vein thrombosis must be a hypochondriac), citing statistics along the lines of: you are X times more likely to die in car accident than in a plane crash. Well, true, but common sense would imply thats largely because most of us drive every single day and fly relatively infrequently.I had to google around to find statistics showing that the death rate per hour of travel is similar, and the death rate per mile (which seems like the most relevant comparison, unless were all taking short and frequent flights) confirms that air travel is safer. The author, however, neglects to include any statistics that could actually inform my opinion the matter. In his mini-chapter about DDT, Schwarcz dedicates several pages to condemning the environmental book Silent Spring while glossing over the fact that DDT is a confirmed toxin linked with endocrine and reproductive issues in addition to being labeled a likely carcinogen. The frustrating thing is that I agree with his point, which is: the benefits of DDT far outweigh the risks in malaria-prone populations. But pretending that the DDT controversy boils down to a figment of Rachel Carsons imagination and mentioning you can eat the stuff before ending the chapter with but do take the time to investigate all of the research is so incomplete as to border on dishonest.Things really devolve in the mini-chapter Feeding the Hungry, which can be summarized as: I met an African lady who worked with Monsanto once, and she was nice lady. Environmentalists arent nice ladies. Schwarcz actually goes out of his way to say that so far [her] fields have not been ravaged by anti-biotech advocates, who (on a full stomach), often rip up such crops, claiming that they have been inadequately tested. Lets pause and reiterate: nobody touched Dr. Wambugus crops, but the author still manages, just for good measure, to provide us with a mental image of smug, well-fed activists destroying food that would otherwise go to starving Africans. This is where I lose all confidence in the book: when he wastes valuable verbal real estate on phrases that appeal to emotion but do nothing to inform us as readers. And again, its frustrating when I agree with the general premise: GMOs can help provide much-needed nutrition to countries suffering from food shortages. But lets admit that there are some questionable implications of Monsantos lobbying, superfund sites, and exploitation of farmers, as well as a long-term concern about biodiversity. Lets admit that there is a...FLY IN THE OINTMENT, IF YOU WILL?!

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