From Publishers Weekly
Harvard biologist Hubbard and freelance writer Wald are leading critics of "the myth of the all-powerful gene." In a hard-hitting critique of genetic determinism and biotechnology, they attack scientists who cite DNA sequences as the presumed basis for a genetic tendency to cancer, high blood pressure, alcoholism and criminal behavior. Such researchers are guilty of leaps of faith and logic, charge the authors. Arguing that genetic screening tests may increase discrimination against people with perceived shortcomings, Hubbard and Wald criticize the Human Genome Project, whose goal is to map the entire sequence of the three billion DNA and RNA subunits that make up our genes. Claims that this project will lead to cures for a wide range of diseases are unfounded, contend the authors. They demonstrate that DNA matching or "fingerprinting," touted by criminal prosecutors as a foolproof forensic tool, is actually fallible. Their expose of the fallacies and pitfalls of genetic testing in schools, the workplace, and by doctors and insurance companies makes this an important handbook.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Harvard biologist and feminist Hubbard and her son (as well as her Nobel laureate husband, George Wald) have long championed the antibiotechnology cause, raising the specter of genetic determinism, eugenics, and social control (read ``fascism'') that they see as imminent in genetics research. Their point of view is that of old-fashioned liberals, winning praise from the Richard Lewontins, Barry Commoners, Ralph Naders, and other defenders of the common man (and woman) and the natural environment against government bureaucrats, scientific reductionists, and others viewed as profiteers or manipulators and exploiters of humankind. In so doing, the authors serve a corrective function, offering the kind of countervailing sensibility that's so important in a democratic society. But, here, they go too far in their zeal, discounting the value of much genetics research and of the human genome project in particular. Certainly, we need safeguards regarding the collection and use of genetic data to prevent discrimination and abuses in education, employment, and insurance, as well as to prevent gene testing for such arbitrary purposes as sex selection and so on. But to deny the importance of genetic research in finding clues to development and aging, plus the causes and cures of disease, is to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Interestingly, in contrast to Andrew Kimbrell in The Human Body Shop (reviewed below), Hubbard and Wald disavow claims that genes have been (or will be) discovered for intelligence, homosexuality, alcoholism, etc.; meanwhile, Kimbrell acts as though such putative genes will determine how we select offspring in the future. The moral of the story is that the pendulum swings both ways, but the truth lies somewhere in the middle. (Seven illustrations) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.