The Genetic Revolution: Scientific Prospects and Public Perceptions
Remarkable advances in molecular genetics have brought benefits ranging from more flavorful tomatoes to inexpensive human insulin produced in bacteria. But not everyone welcomes the inevitable "genetic revolution." Perhaps because experts and the general public belatedly recognized that the benefits of other technologies have come at great cost--pollution of the environment, exhaustion of natural resources, even damage to the atmosphere--many assume that similarly unintended and unforeseen harmful consequences are inevitable for biotechnology. What monsters and disasters, they wonder, will accompany the miracles of this latest advance? In The Genetic Revolution Bernard D. Davis and other experts address such fears with clear explanations of molecular genetics, its practical applications in biotechnology, its legal implications, and its surprising historical context. In fact, "biotechnology" is as old as civilization itself--and was originally called "domestication": the adaptation of initiallywild organisms, by empirical genetic selection, to meet human needs. And the scientific record shows that, unlike more recent technologies based on the physical sciences, the great benefits of domestication have been remarkably free of harmful side effects. Defenders argue that the new techniques of genetic engineering will simply increase the speed, precision, and range of domestication. However, the purpose will remain the same: to strengthen those traits, in animals, plants, or microbes, that make the organism more useful for humans. To ensure that all sides of the debate are heard, Davis has chosen outstanding contributors with a wide range of viewpoints--from apprehensive to enthusiastic--and a variety of backgrounds, including political science, law, and government regulation, as well as biology and medicine. With the latest information on the likely impact of genetic engineering in agriculture, animal husbandry, ecology, and medical research and practice, The Genetic Revolution introduces scientific facts and informed opinions to an emotional and often confusing public discussion.