Natural Defense

Cover featuring text and coloured drawings of germs on a white background.

Hardback - September 2017 - AU $42.00

A peek into the fascinating and hopeful world of our natural defences.

For more than a century, we have relied on chemical cures to keep our bodies free from disease and our farms free from bugs and weeds. We rarely consider human and agricultural health together, but both are based on the same ecology, and both are being threatened by organisms that have evolved to resist our antibiotics and pesticides. Patients suffer from C.diff, a painful, potentially lethal gut infection associated with multiple rounds of antibiotics; orange groves rot from insect-borne bacteria; and the blight responsible for the Irish potato famine outmanoeuvres fungicides. Our chemicals are failing us. + Full description

Fortunately, scientists are finding new solutions that work with, rather than against, nature. Emily Monosson explores science’s most innovative strategies, from high-tech gene editing to the ancient practice of faecal transplants. There are viruses that infect and bust apart bacteria; vaccines engineered to better provoke our natural defences; and insect pheromones that throw crop-destroying moths into a misguided sexual frenzy. Some technologies will ultimately fizzle; others may hold the key to abundant food and unprecedented health. Each represents a growing understanding of how to employ ecology for our own protection.

Monosson gives readers a peek into the fascinating and hopeful world of natural defences. Her book is full of optimism, not simply for particular cures, but for a sustainable approach to human welfare that will benefit generations to come.

- Short description


Hardback | September 2017 | $ 42.00
ISBN: 9781610917186 | 208 pages | 229 x 152 mm
Publisher: Island Press, USA


Chapter 1. Natural Allies: Our Bacterial Protectors
Chapter 2. Natural Allies: How the Smallest of All Can Help Feed the World
Chapter 3. The Enemy of Our Enemy is Our Friend: Infecting the Infection
Chapter 4. The Enemy of Our Enemy is Our Friend: Replacing Pesticides with Nature’s Chemistry
Chapter 5. Provocation: GMOs and the Science of Protecting Plants, Naturally
Chapter 6. Provocation: The Next Generation of Vaccines
Chapter 7. Know Thine Enemy: Diagnosing Crop Disease Goes High Tech
Chapter 8. Know Thine Enemy: The Future of Diagnostics


Emily Monosson is a toxicologist and author, a member of the Ronin Institute for Independent Scholarship, and holds an adjunct faculty position in the Department of Environmental Conservation at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In recent years, her focus has turned toward the impact of industrial age chemicals and technology on food and medicine.