Gene Future; The Promise and Perils of the New Biology

Gene Future: The Promise and Perils of the New Biology
by Thomas F. Lee

C, T, GA **


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Rapid advancement in an aspect of science usually results in an array of books for the general public that range from clear explanations with a balanced viewpoint to the sensational. This book is a model, as the general reader will find clear explanations of the scientific principles, laid out as needed, in a discussion of the ethical and social issues raised by the actual and potential applications of genetic technology. The discussion of agricultural applications was most informative to me, as a reader who is much more involved with the medical applications of genetics. This area does not receive as much coverage in general scientific journals, as the human genome project seems to be the major attraction for both the general and scientific presses. It is clear that the author has a comprehensive view of biology. There are a few points that could be handled better. The decrease in mortality from infectious disease, resulting in increased attention to genetic disorders, is ascribed to the use of antibiotics. This cannot be correct, because the death rates were decreasing before the introduction of vaccines and antibiotics. Most epidemiologists believe that this change is a result of other social changes and better sanitation. The human karyotype illustration is not reflective of the state of the art. This book is written for a general audience, but could be used as collateral reading for advanced high school biology or college courses. It might also be useful for courses for people majoring in humanities.

--Reviewed by David J. Harris in Science Books and Films, 30/1 (January/February 1994), p. 9.