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Special Reports on  " Biology"

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Special Report

The Ethics of Biotechnology

Is the alteration of plant and animal genes to increase their growth or fertility a triumph of technological progress or the assumption by humans of godlike powers?
Illustration by Marcia Klioze Hughes/The World & I 

While the media spotlight has focused largely on the pharmaceutical and genetic-testing field of biotechnology, a quiet revolution has ...

Ecological Brinkmanship: The Genetic Engineering of Microbes and Plants
Today we are exposed to a continuous stream of scientific discoveries that are unveiling all kinds of secrets regarding the structure of matter and the basic mechanisms of life. One of these "breakthroughs" has given us the Flavr Savr tomato. This and other genetic engineering feats are the subject of this essay. What else can genetic engineering do? Do we need it? Are there any side effects? Can the same ends be accomplished in other ways? These questions need to be answered before we commit an important segment of the economy to a pathway that could lead to a fiasco from which, like nuclear power, it is hard to escape. ...

Biotechnology Applied to Microbes: Taking Agricultural Sustainability a Step Forward
Major investments have been made in the United States and elsewhere in a genetics and breeding approach to develop and improve crop plants and domestic animals. This sustained effort, through a network of public and private research programs over the past seventy to eighty years, has been made for the benefit of both consumers and producers. ...

The Benefits and Ethics of Creating Transgenic Food Animals
One of the most powerful tools for the improvement of human and animal well-being is the use of recombinant DNA technology. This tool can be used in many ways; however, this presentation will be limited to that portion of recombinant DNA technology that involves the production of transgenic food animals. ...

Brave New Food
The human imagination has never been limited by species boundaries. The Greeks imagined a mythological creature, the Chimera, a hideous, ...

Prometheus Unbound: The Dangers of Biotechnology
On balance, I agree with R. James Cook and Duane C. Kraemer and disagree with Andrew Kimbrell in their clash over the genetic engineering of plants and animals, although the article by Liebe F. Cavalieri on the genetic engineering of plants has shaken some of my convictions. Still, as Cook points out, the genetic engineering of plants has many similarities with long-standing genetic selection and hybridization, and it is likely to produce many superior food products. Eventually, the genetic engineering of animals, including humans, will enable us to compensate for serious genetic defects in humans and to reverse crippling and killing defects in those already alive. Surely these are highly valuable objectives. Only those insensitive to the overwhelming pain that some defects produce in those afflicted would be so hard-hearted as to deny to them the potential rescue that genetic engineering promises. ...

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