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while scientists may figure out the main function ofa particular gene. they understand very little about how genes interact with each other; the addition or deletion ofeven one gene in an organism could upset the workings of all the rest. An example ofthis was the insertion into a pig embryo of the gene for human growth hormone: the resulting animal suffered arthritic. metabolic and heart disorders so severe that it was killed to put it out of its misery. On a larger scale. we‘re still a long way from fully understanding how existing organisms interact within an eco-system. and so have no way of working out the risks ofintroducing new ones. Despite this. a fair numberofauthorised 'controlled‘ releases oflaboratory-created mutants have already taken place. along with several (known) unauthorised ones. Some analysts have drawn comparisons with the introduction of DDT or the early days ofnuclear testing.
We need to start thinking much more broadly about the whole thing — do we actually have to take the risk at all, or isthere an alternative to a genetically
Spallone‘s view is that a moratorium on all releases of genetically engineered material should be imposed until a much greater understanding ofgenetic and ecological interaction. as well as of the other issues involved. is reached. ‘It‘s not just the risks we need to work out.‘ she says. ‘We need to start thinking much more broadly about the whole thing — do we actually have to take the risk at all. or is there an alternative to a genetically-engineered solution‘.”
The need for scientists to think in broader terms forms the heart of Spallone's argument. Her book. in fact. can be read in two ways — as a detailed examination of genetic engineering itself. and as a wider critique of Western science in general - the ‘man as God ideology ofever-increasing domination over nature as the path to progress — using genetic engineering as a large-scale case study. ‘I focus on genetic engineering because it's such a critical. transforming technology which is bringing about changes at the moment.‘ she says. ‘But the book is also about the whole industrial mind-set behind ideas of production-centred development. which is something science serves very well.‘ Especially with a technology as potentially far-reaching as this one. she argues. science must drop its pretence of neutral purity and admit that it exists as a ‘nexus ofcommercial. ethical and social relations.‘ It must be made to serve people‘s real needs rather than dictating our perception of what those needs are.
Generation games is published by the Women '3' Press a! £7. 95.
Catherine Fellows digs up her favourite root vegetables and cooks up some tasty recipes.
Parsnips. apparently. aren‘t much liked in Scotland. Beetroot is scorned. Even neeps. after their annual night ofglory at the right hand of the haggis. are passed over in favour of some glamorous broccoli spear or other for the rest of the year. This is the tale according to the vegetable wholesalers. Apart from potatoes and carrots. which are taken for granted. roots are unappreciated and underused.
It‘s a crying shame. Roots may be muddy and misshapen. but they‘ve got a lot more character than some flashy tomatoes and pumped up lettuces I could mention. Think ofa sweet roast parsnip. a peppery new turnip salad. a pork casserole made by the subtle flavour ofceleriac. or a bowl of rich. creamy. smokey Jerusalem artichoke soup. One thing that appeals to me about root vegetables is that the vast majority of them. even those that are not native to Europe. grow very happily in the UK: most on sale here are home produced. Whereas other exotic species must be force-fed and mollycoddled in greenhouses. or picked and ﬂown to us before they have ripened. roots have a much more laid-back existence: they are even buried safely out of the way of the sprays which are applied directly to brassicas for instance.
Maybe I am just sentimental or maybe there‘s truth in the theory
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that seasonal foods produced in a region best supply the nutritional needs ofthat region‘s inhabitants. At this time ofyear when other interesting vegetables tend to be hard to find or enormously expensive. nothing seems more appealing than good. wholesome roots. They are nutritious and a good source ofvitamins and minerals. very versatile. potentially beautiful. and cheap.
Are you sold on them yet? What about parboiled parsnip chips dipped in ﬂour and beaten egg. fried until crispy and golden and served with a sour cream and horseradish dip? It doesn‘t have to be parsnips: in Central America they appreciate their roots. and yucca served this way is a treat. The Costa Ricans also use the cooked. dense white ﬂesh of the yucca to make tortas and enyuccados - not unlike the parsnip scones made here before we got snobby. The vegetable is mashed. mixed with egg. soft cheese. salt. pepper. sour cream. a pinch ofsugar and chopped parsley. or. alternatively. with eggs. butter. ﬂour and chopped coriander. moulded into little flat cakes and fried in corn oil.
Fritters and fried pancakes also feature strongly in the southern States. and the Caribbean where sweet potatoes are a common ingredient. Not only are they used as a savoury snack and accompanying vegetable. but also in sweet cakes and pies. Before sugar was freely available in this country. cooks would use parsnips to sweeten cakes. and of course. carrot cake has enjoyed a massive revival here recently. Since sweet potatoes are expensive here. I would serve them very plain with butter.
In much South Asian cooking the large white radish is practically a staple. Also known as moo/i and
daikon. it features particularly strongly in Japanese and Korean pickles and Thai salads. White radishes are widely available here. are often cheaper than the little red ones. and though they don‘t have that attractive colour. they have a good ﬂavour and fresh. crisp texture making them an excellent salad or stir fry ingredient (don‘t cook them for long or they go bland). They are very tasty cut into sticks as crudites with dips such as sour cream with dijon mustard.
Even in continental Europe you will find delicious root dishes. A starter ofalternating mounds of grated carrot and white baby turnips in garlic vinaigrette is much more delicious than it sounds if the dressing is a tasty one and the vegetables finely grated by hand so that they absorb the flavours. Fine sticks of celeriac. either raw or blanched. tossed in mayonnaise and lemon juice. are good. as is a suladt' (tale of freshly cooked beet root. finely chopped onion. black olives. olive oil. lemon juice and parsley. Horseradish mayonnaise and sliced boiled eggs go well with beetroot. but I think it is off-putting when they turn pink so I serve them separately. Apart from endless wonderful salads like these. traditional French dishes such as gratins and croquettes are beautiful made with more unusual roots like salsify. parsnips or Jerusalem artichokes instead of ordinary potatoes.
Jerusalem artichokes are really special. They may look like mucky ginger. or contorted dahlia corms. but they have a tasty and quite strong smokey flavour and a lovely moist texture. much lighter than potatoes. They are good roasted. baked. sauted. in soups and casseroles. One of my favourites is a warm salad of lightly boiled artichokes with red pepper. chicory and vinaigrette
64 The List 14 — 27 February 1992