Will the genetic research that gave us the Flavr Savr tomato also give us the power to customize our children? Medical thinker Gregory Stock believes that this is precisely what's happening and that we'd better get used to it fast. Redesigning Humans: Our Inevitable Genetic Future
explores gender selection, gene therapy, germinal choice, and many more options available now or in the near future, but lays aside the hysteria common to such discussions.
Stock sees the cloning controversy as a distraction from issues of real importance, such as balancing offspring trait selection against eugenics. Writing with the clarity and precision of a philosopher, Stock engages his readers with thought exercises and real-life examples. While not a brainless cheerleader for big science, he believes that we can, and certainly will, use any means necessary to give our children an edge, even if it means profound changes for our species. Redesigning Humans offers the hope that these changes need not be catastrophic if we pay attention now. --Rob Lightner
From Publishers Weekly
Rather than worry about the ethics of human cloning, Stock (Metaman; The Book of Questions), director of the UCLA School of Medicine's Program of Medicine, Technology and Society, believes we should focus our attention on the idea that we'll soon be able to genetically manipulate embryos to develop desired traits a more immediate and enticing possibility for most parents than cloning. He gives a lucid overview of the new biotechnology that will allow scientists to delay aging and to insert genes that enhance physical and cognitive performance, combat disease or improve looks into embryos. Stock thoughtfully weighs the ethical dilemmas such advances present, arguing that the real threat is not frivolous abuse of technology but the fact that we don't know the long-term effects of these genetic changes. In any case, Stock insists, there's no turning back, and government bans "will determine not whether the technologies will be available, but where, who profits from them, who shapes their development, and which parents have early access to them." Stock demonstrates that much of the current criticism of human genetic engineering sounds remarkably similar to what was being said about in vitro fertilization when it first appeared. He believes that we will come to accept laboratory conception of all offspring and the addition of artificial chromosomes stocked with designer genes as readily as we have come to accept in vitro fertilization. Along the way we are sure to have many ethical issues to confront, issues that Stock does an impressive job of outlining.
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