The Biotech Century|
by Jeremy Rifkin (Author)
When two Scottish scientists successfully cloned a sheep in July 1996, the news
sparked fierce scientific, ethical, theological, and philosophical debate,
momentarily pulling biotechnology from the laboratories and thrusting it onto
the front pages. With living proof that such advancements are no longer the
stuff of science fiction, a whole new world of possibilities--and
dangers--presented itself. Jeremy Rifkin is more concerned with the dangers of
this technology, and in The Biotech Century , he presents numerous compelling
reasons why we should be, too. Many of these dangers revolve around the
seemingly inevitable commercialization of genetically engineered life forms that
would come if corporations battled for the rights to patents on new or modified
species of plants, animals, or even human beings. Rifkin warns that "designer"
babies and genetically perfect humans, along with any other artificial
creations, would wreak havoc with the gene pool and the natural environment.
While he concedes that there are benefits to biotechnology, he makes it clear
that the risks far outweigh the rewards at this time, urging for greater
restraint and responsibility before opening what could be a Pandora's box.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
We are poised on the brink of a revolution of unparalleled real-life impact,
argues Rifkin in this impassioned, erudite and well-reasoned study. Already,
recombinant DNA techniques, computer gene-mapping and the globalization of
commerce have begun to reshape life: the cloning of mammals for inexpensive
pharmaceuticals is but one example. Though he does not dispute the promised
benefits of biotechnology, Rifkin, president of the Foundation on Economic
Trends and author of The End of Work and many other trend-tracking books, warns
that we must closely consider its possible (and often little-publicized)
negative consequences. A technology that can find genetic sources of disease,
for example, can also lead to widespread acceptance of eugenic practices;
techniques for genetically altering crops and animals to improve food sources
could just as easily be used to create customized biological weapons.
("Scientists say they may be able to clone selective toxins to eliminate
specific racial or ethnic groups whose genotypical makeup predispose them to
certain disease patterns," Rifkin warns.) Biotechnology has the capacity to
deplete, rather than enhance, Earth's gene pool and irreparably damage
ecological balance, according to Rifkin, and it may transform our conceptions of
nature and of life itself. Just as the Industrial Revolution caused unexpected
problems such as depletion of natural resources, overpopulation, economic
injustice and pollution, so the Biotech Revolution will inevitably cause
problems we cannot yet imagine, Rifkin contends, especially if we fail to
educate ourselves about the nature of biotechnology and neglect to make careful
decisions about how it should best be used. This wide-ranging and deeply
intelligent analysis is an excellent first step. 50,000 first printing; author tour.
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Tarcher; Trade Ed edition (April 5, 1999)