Book Review: Intervention – Confronting the Real Risks of Genetic Engineering and Life on a Biotech Planet

Posted December 4th, 2007 by Jerry Ravetz and filed in Book reviews

Denise Caruso
Intervention: Confronting the Real Risks of Genetic Engineering and Life on a Biotech Planet
San Francisco: The Hybrid Vigor Institute, 2006.
This book is required reading for anyone who still has illusions about the essential beneficence of science. With scientific insight and journalistic skill, Denise Caruso dissects the world of corporate biotechnologists, and provides a terrifying picture of what they are now doing to the world. She goes through the whole scene of biological interventions, including transgenic interventions of every sort. In every case, it’s the same appalling story.
The key to the problem lies in the researchers, perhaps motivated by scientific curiosity but definitely directed by corporate greed. Theirs is a Tinkertoy vision of reality, where all you need to do is to fit in a piece from anywhere and make it all work your way. Any idea of uncertainty, risks, unexpected effects or the reactions of complex biological systems, is totally absent from their vision. As to social consequences, this is left to the PR men who promise to cure any of mankind’s ills with their latest gadget.
The combination of myopic scientists, predatory corporations, and revolving-door regulators is totally lethal. Fortunately many of their productions have flopped on the market, and they hype each other as much as the public. But some of it will work, some time, somewhere. Only luck will save us from some sort of man-made Kudzu of some size, shape or form. We probably won’t know when it is happening, and may not even know about harmful consequences until much too late.
Of course there are still many scientists who work with breadth of vision and integrity, as well as citizens’ groups that raise the alarm. The question is, who will prevail. Our fate may well depend on the answer.

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