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Evolution Made to OrderPlant Breeding and Technological Innovation in Twentieth-Century America$
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Helen Anne Curry

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226390086

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226390116.001.0001

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(p.205) Epilogue
Evolution Made to Order

Helen Anne Curry

University of Chicago Press

Americans have long imagined the existence of an easy route to innovating living things, especially the plants that underpin American agricultural production. As the epilogue reiterates, that route has been largely indistinguishable from other areas of innovation, no matter how special we may perceive its object to have been. In addition to summarizing this and other key arguments advanced in the book, the epilogue looks forward to the period from 1970 to 2015 and suggests how the histories of early genetic technologies such as x-rays, colchicine, and atomic radiation might inform the more recent and better-charted history of transgenic manipulation (what we know today as genetic engineering) and contemporary controversies over genetically modified crops. It describes the changed cultural context of the 1970s into which transgenic manipulation emerged as a new technology and explores the similarities and differences between its reception and that of mutagenic techniques in earlier decades. It concludes with a reminder that evidence of broad acceptance of genetic technologies from the 1930s through the 1960s does not mean that twenty-first-century disapproval of these is misguided. Rather, it indicates that many Americans have come to a different understanding of genetic technologies and the implications of their use.

Keywords:   transgenics, mutagenics, genetic engineering, genetically modified crop, genetic technologies

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