Tomorrow's Table

Pamela C. Ronald and Raoul W. Adamchak

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Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food


In modern agricultural politics, organic farming and genetic engineering occupy opposite ends of the spectrum. In the Ronald-Adamchak household, the world is not so black and white. Ronald is a professor of plant pathology at the University of California, Davis. Adamchak manages the student-run organic farm on campus. Together, they’re exploring the juncture where their methods can (and they argue, should) meet to ensure environmentally sustainable food production. Revealing common principles and “leveling the playing field,” this book roughly chronicles one year in the lives of the Ronald-Adamchak family. Through dialogue with friends and family, the authors thoughtfully explore the use of GE agriculture and the concerns expressed by consumers. They discuss the contents of their own largely organic pantry, what they choose to feed their children, and how over the last ten years of their marriage, they have developed a specific criteria for the use of GE in agriculture. From their personal vantage points, Ronald and Adamchak explain what geneticists and organic farmers actually do, and help readers distinguish between fact and fiction in the debate about crop genetic engineering. Loosely organized by season, each section of the book addresses a different issue related to the role of GE and organic farming in food production. Raoul provides a farmer’s view of the philosophy and practice of organic farming and how it differs from conventional agriculture; Pam describes the tools and processes of genetic engineering, as well as  the potential ecological benefits and risks of using GE technology to generate new crop varieties. At the end of the book, they describe one of their typical family dinners, explain their choice to bring both genetically engineered and organic food to their table, and share some of their family’s best recipes.


“A fantastic piece of work” — Bill Gates 

“This book is a tale of two marriages. The first is that of Raoul and  Pam, the authors, and is a tale of the passions of an organic farmer and a plant genetic scientist. The second is the potential marriage of two technologies-organic agriculture and genetic engineering. …  Like all good marriages, both include shared values, lively tensions, and reinvigorating complementarities. [The authors] share a strong sense of both the wonder of the natural world and how, if treated with respect and carefully managed, it can remain a source of inspiration and provision of our daily needs.” –Sir Gordon Conway KCMG FRS, Professor of International Development, Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College, London, and past President of the Rockefeller Foundation, from his foreword.

“Here’s a persuasive case that, far from contradictory, the merging of genetic engineering and organic farming offers our best shot at truly sustainable agriculture. I’ve seen no better introduction to the ground truth of genetically engineered crops and the promising directions this ‘appropriate technology’ is heading.”–Stewart Brand, creator of the Whole Earth Catalog

“Whether you ultimately agree with it or not, Tomorrow’s Table brings a fresh approach to the debate over transgenic crops.”–Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food and The Omnivore’s Dilemma

“Welcome as water in the desert-at a time when partisans compete to see who can deliver the hardest slam against those who think differently, what a welcome surprise to find this book building bridges between unnecessary antagonists. The developers of crops improved through biotechnology and the practitioners of organic agriculture want the same thing-a way to grow food that helps farmers tread more gently on the land. Ronald and Adamchak explain how simpatico these two approaches are at heart. For a future that will bring unprecedented challenges we will need all the tools we can muster. Tomorrow’s Table shows how organic and biotech can coexist and complement one another. Bravo, and bring on Volume II.”–L. Val Giddings, President, PrometheusAB

“A unique, personal perspective on the ways in which genetically enhanced crops can improve wholesome agricultural productivity, helping to achieve the low chemical inputs that are the goal of organic agriculture and of those who care about our environment and health. Highly recommended.”–Peter H. Raven, President, Missouri Botanical Garden

“With the world’s population projected to grow some 50 percent by mid-century, rigorous agricultural planning becomes indispensable to forestall the onset of ecological and human disaster. Ronald and Adamchak, a wife-husband team from the University of California at Davis, combine the training and insights of a geneticist and the know-how of a committed organic farmer. They examine the often-passionate debate about genetically engineered food and how it may affect the food supply of the future, meticulously dissecting arguments for and against such application of science. This wildly eccentric book juxtaposes deep scientific analysis of genetically engineered agriculture with recipes for such homey kitchen staples as cornbread and chocolate chip cookies. In a marvelously useful table, they outline a history of biological technology from 4000 BC through the dawn of the twenty-first century. A glossary of agricultural genetics and an extensive bibliography supplement the text.” —Mark Knoblauch, Booklist, April 1, 2008

“Genetically-engineered versus organically-grown. It’s a choice often framed as being between science and nature, but it’s a false one, says this wife-husband team. In a literal marriage of two entrenched camps, Ronald, a plant genomics researcher at UC Davis, and Adamchak, an organic gardener, shed light on the unfounded fears of gene modification and the merits a more-holistic approach to agriculture. Recipes include “Sticky Rice with GE Papaya” and “Isolation of DNA from Organically- Grown Strawberries.” – Seed Magazine

“I’ve seen no better introduction to the ground truth of genetically engineered crops and the promising directions this ‘appropriate technology’ is heading.” – Stewart Brand, creator of the Whole Earth Catalog

“Welcome as water in the desert… Bravo, and bring on Volume II.” – L. Val Giddings, President, PrometheusAB

“Highly recommended.” – Peter H. Raven, President, Missouri Botanical Garden

“This wildly eccentric book juxtaposes deep scientific analysis of genetically engineered agriculture with recipes for such homey kitchen staples as cornbread and chocolate chip cookies” —Mark Knoblauch, Booklist, April 1, 2008

“Ronald and Adamchak have inspired books by a varied clutch of professionals: an environmentalist, a historian and a journalist” Paul Voosen, The New York Times (url)

“We found the book insightful and well-documented.” – Organic Gardening Magazine

“Tomorrow’s Table is not just another biology textbook posing as a general reader in a shallow attempt to garner extravagant royalty payments for their academic authors, but one of the best, most balanced accounts of transgenic agriculture that I have read” – Nature Biotechnology

“Ronald and Adamchak’s clear, rational approach is refreshing, and the balance they present is sorely needed in our increasingly polarized world.” Science Magazine

Additional Reviews

Product Details

232 pages; 7 b/w halftones and 1 line illus.; 6-1/8 x 9-1/4;

ISBN13: 978-0-19-530175-5

ISBN10: 0-19-530175-7

About the Authors

Pamela C. Ronald is a Professor in the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of California, Davis. Her laboratory has genetically engineered rice for resistance to diseases and flooding. Her work has been published in Science, Nature , and other scientific periodicals and has also been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal,  Le Monde and on National Public Radio. She is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Raoul Adamchak has grown organic crops for twenty years, part of the time as a partner in Full Belly Farm, a private 150-acre organic vegetable farm. He has inspected over one hundred organic farms as an inspector for California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) and served as a member and President of CCOF’s Board of Directors. He now works at the U.C., Davis as the Market Garden Coordinator at the certified organic farm on campus.


Tommorrow’s Table recommended on The Gates Notes

Bill Gates tackles controversy over genetically-modified crops at UC Berkeley

Bill Gates recommends Tomorrow’s Table at The Techonomy Conference (skips to 4:26)

GMOrganic, A Botanical Love Story  – The Ration

  • Is organic GM the answer? (pdf) – Ethical Corporation

  • <a class=”external-link” href=” – The New Zealand Herald

  • Raoul Adamchak, Fred Pearce, Prabhu Pingali: REINVENTING SUSTENANCE. Techonomy
  • Bill Gates: Reinventing Capitalism. Techonomy

  • Bill Gates – What I’m Learning – The New Science of Feeding the World. The Gates Notes

  • Green Genes: Are genetically modified crops eco-friendly? Forbes

  • Author and journalist Michael Specter believes that public fear and skepticism of technological developments — from vaccines to genetically modified foods to synthetic biology — threaten to undermine scientific progress. He joins us in studio to discuss his new book, “Denialism.” KQED.

  • Pamela Ronald and Raoul Adamchak featured on The Progressive Farmer( pdf)

  • Pamela Ronald featured on NOVA | Evolution in Your Life ( PBS)

  • Food Farming and Genetics: A Panel Discussion with Michael Pollan(

  • The fetish art of Superman’s co-creator, the future biotech farmers of America, and Hank Williams Jr.’s right-wing populism (

  • Scientific Flip Flop – Five experts debate the roots of GM
    opposition, the role of big agribusiness, and whether we’ve achieved
    real scientific consensus (Seed Magazine) or ( pdf)

  • Is it possible to feed six billion people – and counting – without exploiting animals, workers, or the earth? (visit The Marc Steiner Show or download the youtube)

  • Food symposium to kick off T-ride’s Mountainfilm Festival 2009 (

  • Library journal selects “Tomorrow’s Table” as one of the Best-Sci tech books of 2008. (

  • Why Not Genetically Modified Organic Crops? (

  • The Green Monster – Could Frankenfoods be good for the environment?
    ( or ( pdf)

  • Tomorrow’s Table has been selected as one of SEED Magazine’s best
    of 2008. ( pdf)

  • See more reviews of Tomorrow’s Table (

  • “Here’s a persuasive case that, far from contradictory, the merging
    of genetic engineering and organic farming offers our best shot at
    truly sustainable agriculture”–Stewart Brand, creator of the Whole Earth Catalog

  • See review in Nature Biotechnology” ( pdf)

  • See review in Science ( pdf)

  • Tomorrow´s Table, una búsqueda de la verdad sobre la agricultura
    orgánica y la modificación genética. (pdf)

  • Bill Nye the Science Guy (pdf)

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