Tag Archives: genetic engineering

Genetic Engineering Ethics in the 575’s

Title: The Engineer in the Garden
Author: Colin Tudge
Source: library
Fun Fact: Some plants, including clover, naturally produce hemoglobin, the protein which transports oxygen through our blood.
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Review Summary: A great introduction to the philosophical questions raised by genetic engineering, which includes complex language and ideas but which does a great job explaining the biology.

Genetic engineering is an incredible technology with many controversial applications. This book as a very approachable primer on those possible applications and the ethical issues they raise. While the science is handled very well and the author didn’t spend enough time on the basics to bore me, I do think the science is written simply enough that someone with no background could understand this book with a little effort. The author does an incredible job starting with the basics. Every biology term is defined. And this allows him to use biology terms and build up to more complicated concepts. For instance, instead of answering the question “what is genetic engineering” in a watered down way, he first explains basic molecular genetics and then the specific methods that people use to alter genomes.  Unfortunately, the illustrations were bad enough to be basically useless, but the explanations were good enough that I don’t think the illustrations were needed any way.
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Uncertain Peril in the 631’s

Uncertain Peril: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Seeds is a manifesto strongly opposing our current use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).  As someone pursuing a PhD in bioinformatics and generally comfortable with the idea of genetic engineering, I expected to be entirely unconvinced by the author’s arguments.  In fact, I almost didn’t pick this book up at all, because I wasn’t sure I could read it objectively enough.  However, I think avoiding reading books by author’s with viewpoints opposed to my own would seriously limit the amount I learn from this project.  Surprisingly, I ended up agreeing with a lot of the author’s points, even though I was sometimes shocked by her completely one-sided rhetoric. Continue reading

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