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Intervention: Confronting the Real Risks of Genetic Engineering and Life on a Biotech Planet Paperback – November 20, 2006
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I learned more about biotechnology from this book than any other I've read ... Caruso lays out in chilling detail exactly why even (perhaps especially) those of us who are strong supporters of science and innovation ought to be extremely concerned about the unintended consequences of contemporary biotechnological industrial research.... ['Intervention'] offers such clear thinking it becomes a step towards solutions. And when the person ringing the alarm bell is no luddite, but one of our brightest technology writers, the alarm demands our attention. --Alex Steffen, founder, Worldchanging.com
In Intervention, Denise Caruso challenges scientists to do a better job of evaluating the safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and communicating unbiased findings to the public ... One of the major strengths of the book is its accessibility to a general audience. ... Sadly, many of the experts and industry representatives whom she targets are unlikely to read the book, although they should. --Allison Snow, Ph.D., in 'Nature'
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Intervention is mainly about transgenic organisms. One of the numerous unsolved problems people need to tackle this century is devising a workable regulatory framework for transgenic plants and animals, aka genetically modified organisms, aka organisms into which engineers have dropped pieces of DNA. In the US, the existing regulatory regime is a patchwork. The biggest part of the patchwork comes from at the dawn of recombinant DNA work at the Asilomar conference in 1975. Asilomar led directly to the "NIH guidelines". These guesstimated different levels of potential risk for different kinds of recombinant DNA experiments, mandated lab practices and levels of containment to conduct research at each level, and set up bodies for review and approval of experiments local to each university. Asilomar also brought about the establishment of an overarching national body, the Recombinant Advisory Committee (aka RAC) to rule on the appropriate level of containment for contested experiments, and established mechanisms by which levels of containment could be ratcheted up or down in response to information coming from new experiments, which in practice has led to sunset of most of the most burdensome regulations as the feared risks did not materialize. The regulatory framework affected experiments in universities funded by the US government, but was extended to commercial work via local communities. Individual cities caused, via their control of zoning, biotech firms to follow the NIH rules.Read more ›
I gather that the original publisher backed away from the book because it was not sensational enough. That in itself is an indictment not only of publishing but of our civil discourse, because this is an important book that deserves a wide audience. Scientists should read it to get a broader perspective; non-scientists should read it because we are all being affected by decisions on the use of biotechnology.
Then (belatedly) I read Denise Caruso's book, Intervention. I've known Denise for a long time and knew she'd become an expert on social risks but perhaps the titles on her website didn't scream out "This means you!" loudly enough for me to pay close attention until now. I figured that if I stuck with eating wild fish and meat from cows with only two horns I could outlive any problems caused by GMOs in general and specifically transgenics (where scientists start fiddling with multiple species and transferring genetic material between them). Now I'm not so sure.
Like most laymen I assumed the process of genetic modification was simple and orderly, no worse than taking some software code from one web page and pasting it into another (come to think of it, that's not as harmless as it looks either). But her descriptions make it clear that there are literally innumerable side effects, both known and unknown. Some of these are relatively simple to characterize but hard to measure, like the problem that breeding crops with a "RoundUp resistant gene" will inevitably cause some of that gene to wind up pollinating weeds and creating a class of Superweeds.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The contemplation of genetic engineering and many other modern technologies frightens many, and a study of this book reveals that the author is one of these people. Read morePublished on January 17, 2010 by Dr. Lee D. Carlson
This easy-to-read, cogent analysis of the bio-tech - including genetic engineering - industry serves a critical purpose in the world right now. Read morePublished on May 6, 2008 by Ian Browde
I am not familiar with genetics, genomics, post genomics and all this stuff, but I read Intervention with a lot of interest, as a guide into the unknown. Read morePublished on November 28, 2007 by Francis Pisani
Denise Caruso brilliantly articulates issues around genetic engineering with clarity and insight in Intervention. Read morePublished on October 29, 2007 by Tiffany Shlain
I bought "Intervention" a couple of months ago and found it extremely enlightening, sobering, and supportive of very very careful and broadly inclusive development in transgenics. Read morePublished on October 27, 2007 by R. Lee, Atlanta
An important and interesting book. Important because of the timing as millions of acres of new food crops could conceivably alter the genetic legacy of the biosphere. Read morePublished on October 26, 2007 by David Thaler
I'm one of those technology-positive people who believe we can solve problems by building better solutions--and I still do. Read morePublished on October 26, 2007 by Nathan Shedroff
I read `Intervention` right after it came out in 2006 and enjoyed it very much. I found it to be an excellent comprehensive survey of the risk issues behind genetic engineering. Read morePublished on October 25, 2007 by George M.
Just because we can genetically engineer things doesn't mean that there aren't any consequences. In this passionately argued treatise, Caruso provides a welcome antidote to the... Read morePublished on October 25, 2007 by Thomas Rielly