Lappé, Marc (Alan) 1943–2005

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Lappé, Marc (Alan) 1943–2005

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born January 14, 1943, in Irvington, NJ; died of brain cancer May 14, 2005, in Gualala, CA. Pathologist, toxicologist, ethicist, environmentalist, educator, and author. Lappé was well known for being on the forefront of those warning about the negative health consequences of pollutants and other artificial elements introduced into the environment. He attended Wesleyan University for his undergraduate work, during which time he had the opportunity to do cancer research at the Weizmann Institute for Science in Israel. Graduating in 1964, he next earned a Ph.D. in experimental pathology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1968. After working as a fellow for the Hastings Center in Garrison, New York, he became an associate for biological sciences at the Institute of Society, Ethics, and Life Sciences during the early 1970s. Moving from New York to California, he held various posts at the California Department of Health Services, but quit in 1981 after his warnings about the dangers of Malthion—a pesticide used against Mediterranean fruit flies—were ignored. Lappé went on to pursue an academic career, first at the University of California at Berkeley, where he was an adjunct associate professor of health policy until 1986, and then at the University of Illinois, where he directed the humanistic studies program for two years and then was a professor of ethics and health policy until 1993. Beginning in the 1970s and continuing on through the early twenty-first century, Lappé was a prolific author of books warning people about the hazards of a compromised environment. Not only did he warn readers about chemical and radioactive poisons, but he also was among the first to argue that genetically engineered crops posed a threat and that overuse of antibiotics could lead to super germs that would be resistant to drug treatment. While the latter prediction has certainly proven true, Lappé's assertion about crop engineering remains in dispute. Still, in 2004, he helped get a law passed in his home community that forbade the planting of genetically engineered crops. In another instance, he warned about the health hazards of silicone breast implants, and when it was revealed that manufacturer Dow Corning had concealed research about their hazards, his work was cited in law suits against that company. Lappé has served as a consultant and expert witness on environmental health issues, and later in his career was director of the Center for Ethics and Toxics in Gualala, California, and an adjunct instructor at the College of Marin. Among his publications are Genetic Politics: The Limits of Biological Control (1979), Germs That Won't Die: Medical Consequences of the Misuse of Antibiotics (1982), The Body's Edge: Our Cultural Obsession with Skin (1996), and the coedited work Engineering the Farm: The Social and Ethical Aspects of Agricultural Biotechnology (2002).



Los Angeles Times, May 20, 2005, p. B11.

New York Times, May 21, 2005, p. A13.

Washington Post, May 24, 2005, p. B6.