With Biotechnology and Society, Hallam Stevens offers an up-to-date primer to help us understand the interactions of biotechnology and society and the debates, controversies, fears, and hopes that have shaped how we think about bodies, organisms, and life in the twenty-first century. Stevens addresses such topics as genetically modified foods, cloning, and stem cells; genetic testing and the potential for discrimination; fears of (and, in some cases, hopes for) designer babies; personal genomics; biosecurity; and biotech art. Taken as a whole, the book presents a clear, authoritative picture of the relationship between biotechnology and society today, and how our conceptions (and misconceptions) of it could shape future developments. It is an essential volume for students and scholars working with biotechnology, while still being accessible to the general reader interested in the truth behind breathless media accounts about biotech’s promise and perils.
Blood is messy, dangerous, and charged with meaning. By following it as it circulates through people and institutions, Jenny Bangham explores the intimate connections between the early infrastructures of blood transfusion and the development of human genetics. Focusing on mid-twentieth-century Britain, Blood Relations connects histories of eugenics to the local politics of giving blood, showing how the exchange of blood carved out networks that made human populations into objects of medical surveillance and scientific research. Bangham reveals how biology was transformed by two world wars, how scientists have worked to define racial categories, and how the practices and rhetoric of public health made genetics into a human science. Today, genetics is a powerful authority on human health and identity, and Blood Relations argues that charting the early territory of transfusion helps us understand how this authority was achieved.
The Century of the Gene
Evelyn Fox KELLER Harvard University Press, 2000 Library of Congress QH428.K448 2000 | Dewey Decimal 576.5
In a book that promises to change the way we think and talk about genes and genetic determinism, Evelyn Fox Keller, one of our most gifted historians and philosophers of science, provides a powerful, profound analysis of the achievements of genetics and molecular biology in the twentieth century, the century of the gene. Not just a chronicle of biology’s progress from gene to genome in one hundred years, The Century of the Gene also calls our attention to the surprising ways these advances challenge the familiar picture of the gene most of us still entertain.
Keller shows us that the very successes that have stirred our imagination have also radically undermined the primacy of the gene—word and object—as the core explanatory concept of heredity and development. She argues that we need a new vocabulary that includes concepts such as robustness, fidelity, and evolvability. But more than a new vocabulary, a new awareness is absolutely crucial: that understanding the components of a system (be they individual genes, proteins, or even molecules) may tell us little about the interactions among these components.
With the Human Genome Project nearing its first and most publicized goal, biologists are coming to realize that they have reached not the end of biology but the beginning of a new era. Indeed, Keller predicts that in the new century we will witness another Cambrian era, this time in new forms of biological thought rather than in new forms of biological life.
What might the cinema tell us about how and why the prospect of cloning disturbs our most profound ideas about gender, sexuality, difference, and the body? In The Cinematic Life of the Gene, the pioneering feminist film theorist Jackie Stacey argues that as a cultural technology of imitation, cinema is uniquely situated to help us theorize “the genetic imaginary,” the constellation of fantasies that genetic engineering provokes. Since the mid-1990s there has been remarkable innovation in genetic engineering and a proliferation of films structured by anxieties about the changing meanings of biological and cultural reproduction. Bringing analyses of several of these films into dialogue with contemporary cultural theory, Stacey demonstrates how the cinema animates the tropes and enacts the fears at the heart of our genetic imaginary. She engages with film theory; queer theories of desire, embodiment, and kinship; psychoanalytic theories of subject formation; and debates about the reproducibility of the image and the shift from analog to digital technologies.
Stacey examines the body-horror movies Alien: Resurrection and Species in light of Jean Baudrillard’s apocalyptic proclamations about cloning and “the hell of the same,” and she considers the art-house thrillers Gattaca and Code 46 in relation to ideas about imitation, including feminist theories of masquerade, postcolonial conceptualizations of mimicry, and queer notions of impersonation. Turning to Teknolust and Genetic Admiration, independent films by feminist directors, she extends Walter Benjamin’s theory of aura to draw an analogy between the replication of biological information and the reproducibility of the art object. Stacey suggests new ways to think about those who are not what they appear to be, the problem of determining identity in a world of artificiality, and the loss of singularity amid unchecked replication.
A Cultural History of Heredity
Staffan Müller-Wille and Hans-Jörg Rheinberger University of Chicago Press, 2012 Library of Congress QH438.5.M8513 2012 | Dewey Decimal 576.5
It was only around 1800 that heredity began to enter debates among physicians, breeders, and naturalists. Soon thereafter it evolved into one of the most fundamental concepts of biology. Here Staffan Müller-Wille and Hans-Jörg Rheinberger offer a succinct cultural history of the scientific concept of heredity. They outline the dramatic changes the idea has undergone since the early modern period and describe the political and technological developments that brought about these changes.
Müller-Wille and Rheinberger begin with an account of premodern theories of generation, showing that these were concerned with the procreation of individuals rather than with hereditary transmission. The authors reveal that when hereditarian thinking first emerged, it did so in a variety of cultural domains, such as politics and law, medicine, natural history, breeding, and anthropology. Müller-Wille and Rheinberger then track theories of heredity from the late nineteenth century—when leading biologists considered it in light of growing societal concerns with race and eugenics—through the rise of classical and molecular genetics in the twentieth century, to today, as researchers apply sophisticated information technologies to understand heredity. What readers come to see from this exquisite history is why it took such a long time for heredity to become a prominent concept in the life sciences and why it gained such overwhelming importance in those sciences and the broader culture over the last two centuries.
Eight percent of our DNA contains retroviruses that are millions of years old. Anna Marie Skalka explains how our evolving knowledge of these particles has advanced genetic engineering, gene delivery systems, and precision medicine. Retroviruses cause disease but also hold clues to prevention and treatment possibilities that are anything but retro.
While the creation of Dolly the sheep, the world's most famous clone, triggered an enormous amount of discussion about human cloning, in Dolly Mixtures the anthropologist Sarah Franklin looks beyond that much-rehearsed controversy to some of the other reasons why the iconic animal's birth and death were significant. Building on the work of historians and anthropologists, Franklin reveals Dolly as the embodiment of agricultural, scientific, social, and commercial histories which are, in turn, bound up with national and imperial aspirations. Dolly was the offspring of a long tradition of animal domestication, as well as the more recent histories of capital accumulation through selective breeding, and enhanced national competitiveness through the control of biocapital. Franklin traces Dolly's connections to Britain's centuries-old sheep and wool markets (which were vital to the nation's industrial revolution) and to Britain's export of animals to its colonies—particularly Australia—to expand markets and produce wealth. Moving forward in time, she explains the celebrity sheep's links to the embryonic cell lines and global bioscientific innovation of the late twentieth century and early twenty-first.
Franklin combines wide-ranging sources—from historical accounts of sheep-breeding, to scientific representations of cloning by nuclear transfer, to popular media reports of Dolly's creation and birth—as she draws on gender and kinship theory as well as postcolonial and science studies. She argues that there is an urgent need for more nuanced responses to the complex intersections between the social and the biological, intersections which are literally reshaping reproduction and genealogy. In Dolly Mixtures, Franklin uses the renowned sheep as an opportunity to begin developing a critical language to identify and evaluate the reproductive possibilities that post-Dolly biology now faces, and to look back at some of the important historical formations that enabled and prefigured Dollys creation.
Within twenty, maybe forty, years most people in developed countries will stop having sex for the purpose of reproduction. Instead, prospective parents will be told as much as they wish to know about the genetic makeup of dozens of embryos, and they will pick one or two for implantation, gestation, and birth. And it will be safe, lawful, and free. In this work of prophetic scholarship, Henry T. Greely explains the revolutionary biological technologies that make this future a seeming inevitability and sets out the deep ethical and legal challenges humanity faces as a result.
“Readers looking for a more in-depth analysis of human genome modifications and reproductive technologies and their legal and ethical implications should strongly consider picking up Greely’s The End of Sex and the Future of Human Reproduction…[It has] the potential to empower readers to make informed decisions about the implementation of advancements in genetics technologies.”
—Dov Greenbaum, Science
“[Greely] provides an extraordinarily sophisticated analysis of the practical, political, legal, and ethical implications of the new world of human reproduction. His book is a model of highly informed, rigorous, thought-provoking speculation about an immensely important topic.”
—Glenn C. Altschuler, Psychology Today
Devised in the 1940s by the biologist C. H. Waddington, the epigenetic landscape is a metaphor for how gene regulation modulates cellular development. As a scientific model, it fell out of use in the late 1960s but returned at the beginning of the twenty-first century with the advent of big-data genomic research because of its utility among scientists across the life sciences to think more creatively about and to discuss genetics. In Epigenetic Landscapes Susan Merrill Squier follows the model’s cultural trail, from its first visualization by the artist John Piper to its use beyond science. Squier examines three cases in which the metaphor has been imaginatively deployed to illustrate complex systems that link scientific and cultural practices: graphic medicine, landscape architecture, and bioArt. Challenging reductive understandings of epigenetics, Squier boldly reclaims the broader significance of the epigenetic landscape as a figure at the nexus of art, design, and science.
"Wright's views about population genetics and evolution are so fundamental and so comprehensive that every serious student must examine these books firsthand. . . . Publication of this treatise is a major event in evolutionary biology."-Daniel L. Hartl, BioScience
"Wright's views about population genetics and evolution are so fundamental and so comprehensive that every serious student must examine these books firsthand. . . . Publication of this treatise is a major event in evolutionary biology."-Daniel L. Hartl, BioScience
"Wright's views about population genetics and evolution are so fundamental and so comprehensive that every serious student must examine these books firsthand. . . . Publication of this treatise is a major event in evolutionary biology."-Daniel L. Hartl, BioScience
The question of why an individual would actively kill itself has long been an evolutionary mystery. Pierre M. Durand’s ambitious book answers this question through close inspection of life and death in the earliest cellular life. As Durand shows us, cell death is a fascinating lens through which to examine the interconnectedness, in evolutionary terms, of life and death. It is a truism to note that one does not exist without the other, but just how does this play out in evolutionary history?
These two processes have been studied from philosophical, theoretical, experimental, and genomic angles, but no one has yet integrated the information from these various disciplines. In this work, Durand synthesizes cellular studies of life and death looking at the origin of life and the evolutionary significance of programmed cellular death. The exciting and unexpected outcome of Durand’s analysis is the realization that life and death exhibit features of coevolution. The evolution of more complex cellular life depended on the coadaptation between traits that promote life and those that promote death. In an ironic twist, it becomes clear that, in many circumstances, programmed cell death is essential for sustaining life.
In recent decades, Susan Oyama and her colleagues in the burgeoning field of developmental systems theory have rejected the determinism inherent in the nature/nurture debate, arguing that behavior cannot be reduced to distinct biological or environmental causes. In Evolution’s Eye Oyama elaborates on her pioneering work on developmental systems by spelling out that work’s implications for the fields of evolutionary theory, developmental and social psychology, feminism, and epistemology. Her approach profoundly alters our understanding of the biological processes of development and evolution and the interrelationships between them. While acknowledging that, in an uncertain world, it is easy to “blame it on the genes,” Oyama claims that the renewed trend toward genetic determinism colors the way we think about everything from human evolution to sexual orientation and personal responsibility. She presents instead a view that focuses on how a wide variety of developmental factors interact in the multileveled developmental systems that give rise to organisms. Shifting attention away from genes and the environment as causes for behavior, she convincingly shows the benefits that come from thinking about life processes in terms of developmental systems that produce, sustain, and change living beings over both developmental and evolutionary time. Providing a genuine alternative to genetic and environmental determinism, as well as to unsuccessful compromises with which others have tried to replace them, Evolution’s Eye will fascinate students and scholars who work in the fields of evolution, psychology, human biology, and philosophy of science. Feminists and others who seek a more complex view of human nature will find her work especially congenial.
A single species of fly, Drosophila melanogaster, has been the subject of scientific research for more than one hundred years. Why does this tiny insect merit such intense scrutiny?
Drosophila’s importance as a research organism began with its short life cycle, ability to reproduce in large numbers, and easy-to-see mutant phenotypes. Over time, laboratory investigation revealed surprising similarities between flies and other animals at the level of genes, gene networks, cell interactions, physiology, immunity, and behavior. Like humans, flies learn and remember, fight microbial infection, and slow down as they age. Scientists use Drosophila to investigate complex biological activities in a simple but intact living system. Fly research provides answers to some of the most challenging questions in biology and biomedicine, including how cells transmit signals and form ordered structures, how we can interpret the wealth of human genome data now available, and how we can develop effective treatments for cancer, diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Written by a leader in the Drosophila research community, First in Fly celebrates key insights uncovered by investigators using this model organism. Stephanie Elizabeth Mohr draws on these “first in fly” findings to introduce fundamental biological concepts gained over the last century and explore how research in the common fruit fly has expanded our understanding of human health and disease.
Vegan, low fat, low carb, slow carb: Every diet seems to promise a one-size-fits-all solution to health. But they ignore the diversity of human genes and how they interact with what we eat.
In Food, Genes, and Culture, renowned ethnobotanist Gary Nabhan shows why the perfect diet for one person could be disastrous for another. If your ancestors were herders in Northern Europe, milk might well provide you with important nutrients, whereas if you’re Native American, you have a higher likelihood of lactose intolerance. If your roots lie in the Greek islands, the acclaimed Mediterranean diet might save your heart; if not, all that olive oil could just give you stomach cramps.
Nabhan traces food traditions around the world, from Bali to Mexico, uncovering the links between ancestry and individual responses to food. The implications go well beyond personal taste. Today’s widespread mismatch between diet and genes is leading to serious health conditions, including a dramatic growth over the last 50 years in auto-immune and inflammatory diseases.
Readers will not only learn why diabetes is running rampant among indigenous peoples and heart disease has risen among those of northern European descent, but may find the path to their own perfect diet.
In 1993, an American biotechnology company and a French genetics lab developed a collaborative research plan to search for diabetes genes. But just as the project was to begin, the French government called it to a halt, barring the laboratory from sharing something never previously thought of as a commodity unto itself: French DNA.
Few concepts played a more important role in twentieth-century life sciences than that of the gene. Yet at this moment, the field of genetics is undergoing radical conceptual transformation, and some scientists are questioning the very usefulness of the concept of the gene, arguing instead for more systemic perspectives.
The time could not be better, therefore, for Hans-Jörg Rheinberger and Staffan Müller-Wille's magisterial history of the concept of the gene. Though the gene has long been the central organizing theme of biology, both conceptually and as an object of study, Rheinberger and Müller-Wille conclude that we have never even had a universally accepted, stable definition of it. Rather, the concept has been in continual flux—a state that, they contend, is typical of historically important and productive scientific concepts. It is that very openness to change and manipulation, the authors argue, that made it so useful: its very mutability enabled it to be useful while the technologies and approaches used to study and theorize about it changed dramatically.
In Gene Sharing and Evolution Piatigorsky explores the generality and implications of gene sharing throughout evolution and argues that most if not all proteins perform a variety of functions in the same and in different species, and that this is a fundamental necessity for evolution.
Covering all species from yeast to humans, this is the first book to tell the story of selfish genetic elements that act narrowly to advance their own replication at the expense of the larger organism.
In light of scientific advances such as genomics, predictive diagnostics, genetically engineered agriculture, nuclear transfer cloning, and the manipulation of stem cells, the idea that genes carry predetermined molecular programs or blueprints is pervasive. Yet new scientific discoveries—such as rna transcripts of single genes that can lead to the production of different compounds from the same pieces of dna—challenge the concept of the gene alone as the dominant factor in biological development. Increasingly aware of the tension between certain empirical results and interpretations of those results based on the orthodox view of genetic determinism, a growing number of scientists urge a rethinking of what a gene is and how it works. In this collection, a group of internationally renowned scientists present some prominent alternative approaches to understanding the role of dna in the construction and function of biological organisms.
Contributors discuss alternatives to the programmatic view of dna, including the developmental systems approach, methodical culturalism, the molecular process concept of the gene, the hermeneutic theory of description, and process structuralist biology. None of the approaches cast doubt on the notion that dna is tremendously important to biological life on earth; rather, contributors examine different ideas of how dna should be represented, evaluated, and explained. Just as ideas about genetic codes have reached far beyond the realm of science, the reconceptualizations of genetic theory in this volume have broad implications for ethics, philosophy, and the social sciences.
Contributors. Thomas Bürglin, Brian C. Goodwin, James Griesemer, Paul Griffiths, Jesper Hoffmeyer, Evelyn Fox Keller, Gerd B. Müller, Eva M. Neumann-Held, Stuart A. Newman, Susan Oyama, Christoph Rehmann-Sutter, Sahotra Sarkar, Jackie Leach Scully, Gerry Webster, Ulrich Wolf
Sheldon Krimsky Harvard University Press, 2012 Library of Congress QH426.5.G46 2013 | Dewey Decimal 616.042
No longer viewed by scientists as the cell’s fixed master molecule, DNA is a dynamic script that is ad-libbed at each stage of development. What our parents hand down to us is just the beginning. Genetic Explanations urges us to replace our faith in genetic determinism with scientific knowledge about genetic plasticity and epigenetic inheritance.
They mastermind our lives, shaping our features, our health, and our behavior, even in the sacrosanct realms of love and sex, religion, aging, and death. Yet we are the ones who house, perpetuate, and give the promise of immortality to these biological agents, our genetic gods. The link between genes and gods is hardly arbitrary, as the distinguished evolutionary geneticist John Avise reveals in this compelling book. In clear, straightforward terms, Avise reviews recent discoveries in molecular biology, evolutionary genetics, and human genetic engineering, and discusses the relevance of these findings to issues of ultimate concern traditionally reserved for mythology, theology, and religious faith.
The book explains how the genetic gods figure in our development--not just our metabolism and physiology, but even our emotional disposition, personality, ethical leanings, and, indeed, religiosity. Yet genes are physical rather than metaphysical entities. Having arisen via an amoral evolutionary process--natural selection--genes have no consciousness, no sentient code of conduct, no reflective concern about the consequences of their actions. It is Avise's contention that current genetic knowledge can inform our attempts to answer typically religious questions--about origins, fate, and meaning. The Genetic Gods challenges us to make the necessary connection between what we know, what we believe, and what we embody.
Table of Contents:
1. The Doctrines of Biological Science 2. Geneses 3. Genetic Maladies 4. Genetic Beneficence 5. Strategies of the Genes 6. Genetic Sovereignty 7. New Lords of Our Genes? 8. Meaning Epilogue
Notes Glossary Index
Reviews of this book: Our genes, [Avise] says, are responsible not only for how we got here and exist day to day, but also for the core of our being--our personalities and morals. It is our genetic make-up that allows for and formulates our religious belief systems, he argues. Avise does not eschew spirituality but seeks a more informed, less confrontational approach between science and the pulpit. --Science News
Reviews of this book: For the general scientific reader, the book is an excellent distillation of a broad and increasingly important field, a course of causation that cannot be ignored. From advising expectant parents to getting innocent people off death row, genetics increasingly dominates our lives. The sections on genetics are expertly written, particularly for those readers without in-depth knowledge. The author explains slowly and carefully just how genetics operates, using multiple metaphors. His genetic discourse proceeds in a neighborly fashion, as one might tell stories while sitting in a rocking chair at a country store. He seems to be invigorated by genes and just can't wait to tell about them. --David W. Hodo, Journal of the American Medical Association
Reviews of this book: As a whole, this book is quite informative and stimulating, and sections of it are beautifully written. Indeed, Professor Avise has a real gift for prose and scientific expositions, and I would suspect that he must be a formidable lecturer...At its core, [The Genetic Gods] is a survey, and a very nice one at that, of evolutionary genetics, the field of the author's major research interests. There is a strong sociobiological cast to the arguments, and the work and ideas of E. O. Wilson figure prominently. The presentation of evolutionary genetics is imbedded in a more general discussion of modern human and molecular genetics...However, this book is, most of all, a philosophical treatise that attempts, admittedly with the bias of a biologist, to examine the intersection of the fundamental premises of evolution and religion. Professor Avise has given us plenty to think about in this book [and]...it was a real pleasure to wrestle with the ideas he was presenting. I would suggest that other readers give it a try. --Charles J. Epstein, Trends in Genetics
Reviews of this book: [Avise's] account of the role genes play in shaping the human condition is wholly involving, paying particular attention to issues of reproduction, aging and death. In addition to presenting ample biological information in a form accessible to the nonspecialist, Avise does a superb job of discussing many of the ethical implications that have arisen from our growing knowledge of human genetics. Just a few of the topics covered are genetic engineering, the patenting of life, genetic screening, abortion, human cloning, gene therapy and insurance-related controversies. --Publishers Weekly
Reviews of this book: Avise explains thoroughly how evolution operates on a genetic level. His goal is to show that humans can look to this information as a way to answer fundamental questions of life instead of looking to traditional religious beliefs...Avise includes some very interesting discussions of ethical concerns related to genetic issues. --Eric D. Albright, Library Journal
This is a splendid account of a subject that affects us all: the breathtaking increase in understanding of human genetics and the insight it provides into human evolution. John Avise speaks with authority of molecular evolutionary genetics and with affecting compassion of what it might mean. --Douglas J. Futuyma, State University of New York at Stony Brook
The Genetic Gods is many things. It is a wonderful introduction to modern molecular biology, by a man who knows his subject backwards. It is a stimulating account of the ways in which genetics impinges on human nature--our thinking and our behavior. It is a remarkably level-headed and sympathetic account of the implications of our new findings for traditional and not-so-traditional issues in philosophy and religion. In an age of genetic counseling, cloning, construction of new life forms, the book is worth its weight in gold for this alone. But most of all, it is a huge amount of fun to read--you want to applaud or argue with the author on nigh every page. Highly recommended! --Michael Ruse, University of Guelph
The Genetic Gods makes a valuable contribution to the on-going task of sorting out the implications of evolutionary biology and genetics for human self-understanding. Avise addresses, with authority and grace, the most consequential intellectual issues of our time. A challenging and insightful book. --Loyal Rue, Harvard University
A wonderfully informative and engaging book. Avise offers a lucid, accessible primer on our genes, angelic and demonic, and examines religious and ethical issues, all too human, now confronted by genetic science. He makes a compelling case that anyone seeking to 'Know Thyself' should study the DNA molecular scriptures, our most ancient and universal legacy. --Dudley Herschbach, Harvard University, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry
The classic study of dog behavior gathered into one volume. Based on twenty years of research at the Jackson Laboratory, this is the single most important and comprehensive reference work on the behavior of dogs ever complied.
"Genetics and the Social Behavior of the Dog is one of the most important texts on canine behavior published to date. Anyone interested in breeding, training, or canine behavior must own this book."—Wayne Hunthausen, D.V.M., Director of Animal Behavior Consultations
"This pioneering research on dog behavioral genetics is a timeless classic for all serious students of ethology and canine behavior."—Dr. Michael Fox, Senior Advisor to the President, The Humane Society of the United States
"A major authoritative work. . . . Immensely rewarding reading for anyone concerned with dog-breeding."—Times Literary Supplement
"The last comprehensive study [of dog behavior] was concluded more than thirty years ago, when John Paul Scott and John L. Fuller published their seminal work Genetics and the Social Behavior of the Dog."—Mark Derr, The Atlantic Monthly
"Genetics and the Social Behavior of the Dog is essential reading for anyone involved in the breeding of dogs. No breeder can afford to ignore the principles of proper socialization first discovered and articulated in this landmark study."-The Monks of New Skete, authors of How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend and the video series Raising Your Dog with the Monks of New Skete.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Louis Menand begins this wide-ranging volume with an essay that extols diversity and warns of the dangers of modifying the human genome. Nora Groce reviews the ways that societies have defined disability and creates an interpretive framework for discussing the relationship between culture and disability.
In essays devoted to historical perspective, Brian H. Greenwald comments upon the real “toll” taken by A. G. Bell’s insistence upon oralism, while Joseph J. Murray weighs the nineteenth-century debate over whether deaf-deaf marriages should be encouraged. John S. Schuchman’s chilling account of deafness and eugenics in the Nazi era adds wrenching reinforcement to the impetus to include disabled people in genetics debates.
Mark Willis offers an intensely personal reflection on the complexities of genetic alteration, addressing both his heart condition and his blindness in surprisingly different ways. Anna Middleton extends Willis’s concepts in her discussion of couples currently considering the use of genetic knowledge and technology to select for or against a gene that causes deafness.
In the part on the science of genetics, Orit Dagan, Karen B. Avraham, Kathleen S. Arnos, and Arti Pandya clarify the choices presented by genetic engineering, and geneticist Walter E. Nance emphasizes the importance of science in offering individuals knowledge from which they can fashion their own decisions. In the concluding section, Christopher Krentz raises moral questions about the ever-continuing search for human perfection, and Michael Bérubé argues that disability should be considered democratically to ensure full participation of disabled people in all decisions that might affect them.
The announcement in 2003 that the Human Genome Project had completed its map of the entire human genome was heralded as a stunning scientific breakthrough: our first full picture of the basic building blocks of human life. Since then, boasts about the benefits—and warnings of the dangers—of genomics have remained front-page news, with everyone agreeing that genomics has the potential to radically alter life as we know it.
For the nonscientist, the claims and counterclaims are dizzying—what does it really mean to understand the genome? Barry Barnes and John Dupré offer an answer to that question and much more in Genomes and What to Make of Them, a clear and lively account of the genomic revolution and its promise. The book opens with a brief history of the science of genetics and genomics, from Mendel to Watson and Crick and all the way up to Craig Venter; from there the authors delve into the use of genomics in determining evolutionary paths—and what it can tell us, for example, about how far we really have come from our ape ancestors. Barnes and Dupré then consider both the power and risks of genetics, from the economic potential of plant genomes to overblown claims that certain human genes can be directly tied to such traits as intelligence or homosexuality. Ultimately, the authors argue, we are now living with a new knowledge as powerful in its way as nuclear physics, and the stark choices that face us—between biological warfare and gene therapy, a new eugenics or a new agricultural revolution—will demand the full engagement of both scientists and citizens.
Written in straightforward language but without denying the complexity of the issues, Genomes and What to Make of Them is both an up-to-date primer and a blueprint for the future.
Heredity and Hope
Ruth Schwartz COWAN Harvard University Press, 2008 Library of Congress RB155.65.C69 2008 | Dewey Decimal 616.042
Neither minimizing the difficulty of the choices that modern genetics has created for us nor fearing them, Cowan argues that we can improve the quality of our own lives and the lives of our children by using the modern science and technology of genetic screening responsibly.
By focusing on chromosomes, Heredity under the Microscope offers a new history of postwar human genetics. Today chromosomes are understood as macromolecular assemblies and are analyzed with a variety of molecular techniques. Yet for much of the twentieth century, researchers studied chromosomes by looking through a microscope. Unlike any other technique, chromosome analysis offered a direct glimpse of the complete human genome, opening up seemingly endless possibilities for observation and intervention. Critics, however, countered that visual evidence was not enough and pointed to the need to understand the molecular mechanisms.
Telling this history in full for the first time, Soraya de Chadarevian argues that the often bewildering variety of observations made under the microscope were central to the study of human genetics. Making space for microscope-based practices alongside molecular approaches, de Chadarevian analyzes the close connections between genetics and an array of scientific, medical, ethical, legal, and policy concerns in the atomic age. By exploring the visual evidence provided by chromosome research in the context of postwar biology and medicine, Heredity under the Microscope sheds new light on the cultural history of the human genome.
The Language of Genetics: An Introduction is the seventh title published in the Templeton Science and Religion Series, in which scientists from a wide range of fields distill their experience and knowledge into brief tours of their respective specialties. In this volume, Dr. Denis R. Alexander offers readers a basic toolkit of information, explanations, and ideas that can help us grasp something of the fascination and the challenge of the language of genetics.
Alexander surveys the big picture, covering such topics as the birth of the field; DNA: what it is, how it works, and how it was discovered; our genetic history; the role of genes in diseases, epigenetics, and genetic engineering. The book assumes the reader has little scientific background, least of all in genetics, and approaches these issues in a very accessible way, free of specialized or overly technical jargon. In the last chapter, Dr. Alexander explores some of the big questions raised by genetics: what are its implications for notions of human value and uniqueness? Is evolution consistent with religious belief? If we believe in a God of love, then how come the evolutionary process, utterly dependent upon the language of genetics, is so wasteful and involves so much pain and suffering? How far should we go in manipulating the human genome? Does genetics subvert the idea that life has some ultimate meaning and purpose?
Genetics is a rapidly advancing field; it seems new discoveries make headlines every other week. The Language of Genetics is intended to give the general reader the knowledge he or she needs to assess and understand the next big story
What makes us alive? Is it our DNA? Our genetics? Is it our atomic composition that gives us life? Somehow, all of this feels radically dissonant from our everyday experience. In Life beyond Molecules and Genes, experimental biologist Stephen Rothman makes the bold case that it is, in fact, our adaptive abilities, hewn by evolution, that make us alive. In making this point, he reveals a hidden harmony between science and life as we live it.
The traditionally accepted understanding of adaptive properties (e.g., the abilities to obtain food, avoid predators, procreate) has been that these are actions of living things or traits that they express. Rothman makes the provocative assertion that this foundational element of the modern materialist perspective is entirely backwards. Our adaptive properties do not exist because we are alive, but rather we are alive because they exist. The implications of this assertion turn the theory of evolution by natural selection on its head by revealing that life transcends its material nature.
Students and scholars of the biological sciences as well as those interested in the philosophy of science will find this work both fascinating and challenging, perhaps even controversial. For centuries, the field of biology has focused on the seemingly mundane task of identifying and cataloging life's chemical substances, while ignoring its grand question: "What is it that makes us alive?" With Life beyond Molecules and Genes, perhaps the field will move a bit closer toward an answer.
People have searched for the fountain of youth everywhere from Bimini to St. Augustine. But for a steadfast group of scientists, the secret to a long life lies elsewhere: in the lowly lab worm. By suppressing the function of just a few key genes, these scientists were able to lengthen worms’ lifespans up to tenfold, while also controlling the onset of many of the physical problems that beset old age. As the global population ages, the potential impact of this discovery on society is vast—as is the potential for profit.
With The Longevity Seekers, science writer Ted Anton takes readers inside this tale that began with worms and branched out to snare innovative minds from California to Crete, investments from big biotech, and endorsements from TV personalities like Oprah and Dr. Oz. Some of the research was remarkable, such as the discovery of an enzyme in humans that stops cells from aging. And some, like an oft-cited study touting the compound resveratrol, found in red wine—proved highly controversial, igniting a science war over truth, credit, and potential profit. As the pace of discovery accelerated, so too did powerful personal rivalries and public fascination, driven by the hope that a longer, healthier life was right around the corner. Anton has spent years interviewing and working with the scientists at the frontier of longevity science, and this book offers a behind-the-scenes look at the state-of-the-art research and the impact it might have on global public health, society, and even our friends and family.
With spectacular science and an unforgettable cast of characters, The Longevity Seekers has all the elements of a great story and sheds light on discoveriesthat could fundamentally reshape human life.
The common fruit fly, Drosophila, has long been one of the most productive of all laboratory animals. From 1910 to 1940, the center of Drosophila culture in America was the school of Thomas Hunt Morgan and his students Alfred Sturtevant and Calvin Bridges. They first created "standard" flies through inbreeding and by organizing a network for exchanging stocks of flies that spread their practices around the world.
In Lords of the Fly, Robert E. Kohler argues that fly laboratories are a special kind of ecological niche in which the wild fruit fly is transformed into an artificial animal with a distinctive natural history. He shows that the fly was essentially a laboratory tool whose startling productivity opened many new lines of genetic research. Kohler also explores the moral economy of the "Drosophilists": the rules for regulating access to research tools, allocating credit for achievements, and transferring authority from one generation of scientists to the next.
By closely examining the Drosophilists' culture and customs, Kohler reveals essential features of how experimental scientists do their work.
Making PCR is the fascinating, behind-the-scenes account of the invention of one of the most significant biotech discoveries in our time—the polymerase chain reaction. Transforming the practice and potential of molecular biology, PCR extends scientists' ability to identify and manipulate genetic materials and accurately reproduces millions of copies of a given segment in a short period of time. It makes abundant what was once scarce—the genetic material required for experimentation.
Making PCR explores the culture of biotechnology as it emerged at Certus Corporation during the 1980s and focuses on its distinctive configuration of scientific, technical, social, economic, political, and legal elements, each of which had its own separate trajectory over the preceding decade. The book contains interviews with the remarkable cast of characters who made PCR, including Kary Mullin, the maverick who received the Nobel prize for "discovering" it, as well as the team of young scientists and the company's business leaders.
This book shows how a contingently assembled practice emerged, composed of distinctive subjects, the site where they worked, and the object they invented.
"Paul Rabinow paints a . . . picture of the process of discovery in Making PCR: A Story of Biotechnology [and] teases out every possible detail. . . . Makes for an intriguing read that raises many questions about our understanding of the twisting process of discovery itself."—David Bradley, New Scientist
"Rabinow's book belongs to a burgeoning genre: ethnographic studies of what scientists actually do in the lab. . . . A bold move."—Daniel Zalewski, Lingua Franca
"[Making PCR is] exotic territory, biomedical research, explored. . . . Rabinow describes a dance: the immigration and repatriation of scientists to and from the academic and business worlds."—Nancy Maull, New York Times Book Review
In genetics laboratories in Latin America, scientists have been mapping the genomes of local populations, seeking to locate the genetic basis of complex diseases and to trace population histories. As part of their work, geneticists often calculate the European, African, and Amerindian genetic ancestry of populations. Some researchers explicitly connect their findings to questions of national identity and racial and ethnic difference, bringing their research to bear on issues of politics and identity.
Drawing on ethnographic research in Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico, the contributors to Mestizo Genomics explore how the concepts of race, ethnicity, nation, and gender enter into and are affected by genomic research. In Latin America, national identities are often based on ideas about mestizaje (race mixture), rather than racial division. Since mestizaje is said to involve relations between European men and indigenous or African women, gender is a key factor in Latin American genomics and in the analyses in this book. Also important are links between contemporary genomics and recent moves toward official multiculturalism in Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico. One of the first studies of its kind, Mestizo Genomics sheds new light on the interrelations between "race," identity, and genomics in Latin America.
Contributors. Adriana Díaz del Castillo H., Roosbelinda Cárdenas, Vivette García Deister, Verlan Valle Gaspar Neto, Michael Kent, Carlos López Beltrán, María Fernanda Olarte Sierra, Eduardo Restrepo, Mariana Rios Sandoval, Ernesto Schwartz-Marín, Ricardo Ventura Santos, Peter Wade
Inbreeding, the mating of close kin, and outbreeding, the mating of distant relatives or unrelated organisms, have long been important subjects to evolutionary biologists. Inbreeding reduces genetic diversity in a population, increasing the likelihood that genetic defects will become widespread and deprive a population of the diversity it may need to cope with its environment. Most plants and animals have evolved behavioral and morphological mechanisms to avoid inbreeding. However, today many endangered species exist only in small, very isolated populations where inbreeding is unavoidable, so it has become a concern for conservationists. In this volume, twenty-six experts in evolution, behavior, and genetics examine the causes and consequences of inbreeding.
The authors ask whether inbreeding is as problematic as biologists have thought, under what ecological conditions inbreeding occurs, and whether organisms that inbreed have mechanisms to dampen the anticipated problems of reduced genetic variation. The studies, including theoretical and empirical work on wild and captive populations, demonstrate that many plants and animals inbreed to a greater extent than biologists have thought, with variable effects on individual fitness. Graduate students and researchers in evolutionary biology, animal behavior, ecology, and conservation biology will welcome this wide-ranging collection.
The Faustian bargain—in which an individual or group collaborates with an evil entity in order to obtain knowledge, power, or material gain—is perhaps best exemplified by the alliance between world-renowned human geneticists and the Nazi state. Under the swastika, German scientists descended into the moral abyss, perpetrating heinous medical crimes at Auschwitz and at euthanasia hospitals. But why did biomedical researchers accept such a bargain?
The Nazi Symbiosis offers a nuanced account of the myriad ways human heredity and Nazi politics reinforced each other before and during the Third Reich. Exploring the ethical and professional consequences for the scientists involved as well as the political ramifications for Nazi racial policies, Sheila Faith Weiss places genetics and eugenics in their larger international context. In questioning whether the motives that propelled German geneticists were different from the compromises that researchers from other countries and eras face, Weiss extends her argument into our modern moment, as we confront the promises and perils of genomic medicine today.
Recent discoveries about wild chimpanzees have dramatically reshaped our understanding of these great apes and their kinship with humans. We now know that chimpanzees not only have genomes similar to our own but also plot political coups, wage wars over territory, pass on cultural traditions to younger generations, and ruthlessly strategize for resources, including sexual partners. In The New Chimpanzee, Craig Stanford challenges us to let apes guide our inquiry into what it means to be human.
With wit and lucidity, Stanford explains what the past two decades of chimpanzee field research has taught us about the origins of human social behavior, the nature of aggression and communication, and the divergence of humans and apes from a common ancestor. Drawing on his extensive observations of chimpanzee behavior and social dynamics, Stanford adds to our knowledge of chimpanzees’ political intelligence, sexual power plays, violent ambition, cultural diversity, and adaptability.
The New Chimpanzee portrays a complex and even more humanlike ape than the one Jane Goodall popularized more than a half century ago. It also sounds an urgent call for the protection of our nearest relatives at a moment when their survival is at risk.
Ordinary Genomes is an ethnography of genomics, a global scientific enterprise, as it is understood and practiced in the Netherlands. Karen-Sue Taussig’s analysis of the Dutch case illustrates how scientific knowledge and culture are entwined: Genetics may transform society, but society also transforms genetics. Taussig traces the experiences of Dutch people as they encounter genetics in research labs, clinics, the media, and everyday life. Through vivid descriptions of specific diagnostic processes, she illuminates the open and evolving nature of genetic categories, the ways that abnormal genetic diagnoses are normalized, and the ways that race, ethnicity, gender, and religion inform diagnoses. Taussig contends that in the Netherlands ideas about genetics are shaped by the desire for ordinariness and the commitment to tolerance, two highly-valued yet sometimes contradictory Dutch social ideals, as well as by Dutch history and concerns about immigration and European unification. She argues that the Dutch enable a social ideal of tolerance by demarcating and containing difference so as to minimize its social threat. It is within this particular construction of tolerance that the Dutch manage the meaning of genetic difference.
Technology evolves at a dazzling speed, and nowhere more so than in the field of genetic engineering, where the possibility of directly changing the genes of one's children is quickly becoming a reality. The public is rightly concerned, but interestingly, they have not had much to say about the implications of recent advancements in human genetics.
Playing God? asks why and explores the social forces that have led to the thinning out of public debate over human genetic engineering. John H. Evans contends that the problem lies in the structure of the debate itself. Disputes over human genetic engineering concern the means for achieving assumed ends, rather than being a healthy discussion about the ends themselves. According to Evans, this change in focus occurred as the jurisdiction over the debate shifted from scientists to bioethicists, a change which itself was caused by the rise of the bureaucratic state as the authority in such matters. The implications of this timely study are twofold. Evans not only explores how decisions about the ethics of human genetic engineering are made, but also shows how the structure of the debate has led to the technological choices we now face.
The Poetics of DNA
Judith Roof University of Minnesota Press, 2007 Library of Congress QP624.R66 2007 | Dewey Decimal 572.86
How has DNA come to be seen as a cosmic truth, representative of all life, potential for all cures, repository for all identity, and end to all stories? In The Poetics of DNA, Judith Roof examines the rise of this powerful symbol and the implications of its ascendancy for the ways we think—about ourselves, about one another, and about the universe.
Descriptions of DNA, Roof argues, have distorted ideas and transformed nucleic acid into the answer to all questions of life. This hyperbolized notion of DNA, inevitably confused or conflated with the “gene,” has become a vector through which older ways of thinking can merge with the new, advancing long-discredited and insidious ideas about such things as eugenics and racial selection and influencing contemporary debates, particularly the popular press obsession with the “gay gene.” Through metaphors of DNA, she contends, racist and homophobic ideology is masked as progressive science.
Grappling with twentieth-century intellectual movements as well as contemporary societal anxieties, The Poetics of DNA reveals how descriptions of DNA and genes typify a larger set of epistemological battles that play out not only through the assumptions associated with DNA but also through less evident methods of magical thinking, reductionism, and pseudoscience.
For the first time, Roof exposes the ideology and cultural consequences of DNA and gene metaphors to uncover how, ultimately, they are paradigms used to recreate prejudices.
Judith Roof is professor of English and film studies at Michigan State University. She is the author of several books, including All about Thelma and Eve: Sidekicks and Third Wheels.
One of this century's leading evolutionary biologists, Motoo Kimura revolutionized the field with his random drift theory of molecular evolution—the neutral theory—and his groundbreaking theoretical work in population genetics. This volume collects 57 of Kimura's most important papers and covers forty years of his diverse and original contributions to our understanding of how genetic variation affects evolutionary change.
Kimura's neutral theory, first presented in 1968, challenged the notion that natural selection was the sole directive force in evolution. Arguing that mutations and random drift account for variations at the level of DNA and amino acids, Kimura advanced a theory of evolutionary change that was strongly challenged at first and that eventually earned the respect and interest of evolutionary biologists throughout the world. This volume includes the seminal papers on the neutral theory, as well as many others that cover such topics as population structure, variable selection intensity, the genetics of quantitative characters, inbreeding systems, and reversibility of changes by random drift.
Background essays by Naoyuki Takahata examine Kimura's work in relation to its effects and recent developments in each area.
Now that we have sequenced the human genome, what does it mean? In The Postgenomic Condition, Jenny Reardon critically examines the decade after the Human Genome Project, and the fundamental questions about meaning, value and justice this landmark achievement left in its wake.
Drawing on more than a decade of research—in molecular biology labs, commercial startups, governmental agencies, and civic spaces—Reardon demonstrates how the extensive efforts to transform genomics from high tech informatics practiced by a few to meaningful knowledge beneficial to all exposed the limits of long-cherished liberal modes of knowing and governing life. Those in the American South challenged the value of being included in genomics when no hospital served their community. Ethicists and lawyers charged with overseeing Scottish DNA and data questioned how to develop a system of ownership for these resources when their capacity to create things of value—new personalized treatments—remained largely unrealized. Molecular biologists who pioneered genomics asked whether their practices of thinking could survive the deluge of data produced by the growing power of sequencing machines. While the media is filled with grand visions of precision medicine, The Postgenomic Condition shares these actual challenges of the scientists, entrepreneurs, policy makers, bioethicists, lawyers, and patient advocates who sought to leverage liberal democratic practices to render genomic data a new source of meaning and value for interpreting and caring for life. It brings into rich empirical focus the resulting hard on-the-ground questions about how to know and live on a depleted but data-rich, interconnected yet fractured planet, where technoscience garners significant resources, but deeper questions of knowledge and justice urgently demand attention.
Ten years after the Human Genome Project’s completion the life sciences stand in a moment of uncertainty, transition, and contestation. The postgenomic era has seen rapid shifts in research methodology, funding, scientific labor, and disciplinary structures. Postgenomics is transforming our understanding of disease and health, our environment, and the categories of race, class, and gender. At the same time, the gene retains its centrality and power in biological and popular discourse. The contributors to Postgenomics analyze these ruptures and continuities and place them in historical, social, and political context. Postgenomics, they argue, forces a rethinking of the genome itself, and opens new territory for conversations between the social sciences, humanities, and life sciences.
Contributors. Russ Altman, Rachel A. Ankeny, Catherine Bliss, John Dupré, Michael Fortun, Evelyn Fox Keller, Sabina Leonelli, Adrian Mackenzie, Margot Moinester, Aaron Panofsky, Sarah S. Richardson, Sara Shostak, Hallam Stevens
Quantitative genetics—the statistical study of the inheritance of traits within a population—has become an important tool for studying the evolution of behavior in the last decade. Quantitative Genetic Studies of Behavioral Evolution examines the theory and methods of quantitative genetics and presents case studies that illustrate the many ways in which the methods can be applied.
Christine R. B. Boake brings together current theoretical and empirical studies to show how quantitative genetics can illuminate topics as diverse as sexual selection, migration, sociality, and aggressive behavior. Nearly half of the chapters focus on conceptual issues, ranging from quantitative genetic models to the complementary roles of quantitative genetic and optimality approaches in evolutionary studies. Other chapters illustrate how to use the techniques by providing surveys of research fields, such as the evolution of mating behavior, sexual selection, migration, and size-dependent behavioral variation. The balance of the volume offers case studies of territoriality in fruit flies, cannibalism in flour beetles, mate-attractive traits in crickets, locomotor behavior and physiology in the garter snake, and cold adaptation in the house mouse. Taken together, these studies document both the benefits and pitfalls of quantitative genetics.
This book shows the advanced student and scholar of behavioral evolution and genetics the many powerful uses of quantitative genetics in behavioral research.
Human genomes are 99.9 percent identical—with one prominent exception. Instead of a matching pair of X chromosomes, men carry a single X, coupled with a tiny chromosome called the Y. Tracking the emergence of a new and distinctive way of thinking about sex represented by the unalterable, simple, and visually compelling binary of the X and Y chromosomes, Sex Itself examines the interaction between cultural gender norms and genetic theories of sex from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present, postgenomic age.
Using methods from history, philosophy, and gender studies of science, Sarah S. Richardson uncovers how gender has helped to shape the research practices, questions asked, theories and models, and descriptive language used in sex chromosome research. From the earliest theories of chromosomal sex determination, to the mid-century hypothesis of the aggressive XYY supermale, to the debate about Y chromosome degeneration, to the recent claim that male and female genomes are more different than those of humans and chimpanzees, Richardson shows how cultural gender conceptions influence the genetic science of sex.
Richardson shows how sexual science of the past continues to resonate, in ways both subtle and explicit, in contemporary research on the genetics of sex and gender. With the completion of the Human Genome Project, genes and chromosomes are moving to the center of the biology of sex. Sex Itself offers a compelling argument for the importance of ongoing critical dialogue on how cultural conceptions of gender operate within the science of sex.
Rudolf Raff is recognized as a pioneer in evolutionary developmental biology. In their 1983 book, Embryos, Genes, and Evolution, Raff and co-author Thomas Kaufman proposed a synthesis of developmental and evolutionary biology. In The Shape of Life, Raff analyzes the rise of this new experimental discipline and lays out new research questions, hypotheses, and approaches to guide its development.
Raff uses the evolution of animal body plans to exemplify the interplay between developmental mechanisms and evolutionary patterns. Animal body plans emerged half a billion years ago. Evolution within these body plans during this span of time has resulted in the tremendous diversity of living animal forms.
Raff argues for an integrated approach to the study of the intertwined roles of development and evolution involving phylogenetic, comparative, and functional biology. This new synthesis will interest not only scientists working in these areas, but also paleontologists, zoologists, morphologists, molecular biologists, and geneticists.
The Society of Genes
Itai Yanai Harvard University Press, 2016 Library of Congress QH437.Y36 2015 | Dewey Decimal 576.5
Since Dawkins popularized the notion of the selfish gene, the question of how these selfish genes work together to construct an organism remained a mystery. Now, standing atop a wealth of new research, Itai Yanai and Martin Lercher—pioneers in the field of systems biology—provide a vision of how genes cooperate and compete in the struggle for life.
The Spirit of the Hive
Robert E. Page Jr. Harvard University Press, 2013 Library of Congress QL568.A6P24 2013 | Dewey Decimal 595.799
How can 40,000 bees working in the dark, by instinct alone, construct a honey comb? Synthesizing decades of experiments, The Spirit of the Hive presents the genetic and physiological mechanisms underlying the division of labor in honey bee colonies and explains how it is an inevitable product of group living, evolving over millions of years.
In this detailed historical and sociological study of the development of scientific ideas, Jonathan Harwood argues that there is no such thing as a unitary scientific method driven by an internal logic. Rather, there are national styles of science that are defined by different values, norms, assumptions, research traditions, and funding patterns.
The first book-length treatment of genetics in Germany, Styles of Scientific Thought demonstrates the influence of culture on science by comparing the American with the German scientific traditions. Harwood examines the structure of academic and research institutions, the educational backgrounds of geneticists, and cultural traditions, among many factors, to explain why the American approach was much more narrowly focussed than the German.
This tremendously rich book fills a gap between histories of the physical sciences in the Weimar Republic and other works on the humanities and the arts during the intellectually innovative 1920s, and it will interest European historians, as well as sociologists and philosophers of science.
Darwin’s nineteenth-century writings laid the foundations for modern studies of evolution, and theoretical developments in the mid-twentieth century fostered the Modern Synthesis. Since that time, a great deal of new biological knowledge has been generated, including details of the genetic code, lateral gene transfer, and developmental constraints. Our improved understanding of these and many other phenomena have been working their way into evolutionary theory, changing it and improving its correspondence with evolution in nature. And while the study of evolution is thriving both as a basic science to understand the world and in its applications in agriculture, medicine, and public health, the broad scope of evolution—operating across genes, whole organisms, clades, and ecosystems—presents a significant challenge for researchers seeking to integrate abundant new data and content into a general theory of evolution.
This book gives us that framework and synthesis for the twenty-first century. The Theory of Evolution presents a series of chapters by experts seeking this integration by addressing the current state of affairs across numerous fields within evolutionary biology, ranging from biogeography to multilevel selection, speciation, and macroevolutionary theory. By presenting current syntheses of evolution’s theoretical foundations and their growth in light of new datasets and analyses, this collection will enhance future research and understanding.
Gonorrhea. Bed bugs. Weeds. Salamanders. People. All are evolving, some surprisingly rapidly, in response to our chemical age. In Unnatural Selection, Emily Monosson shows how our drugs, pesticides, and pollution are exerting intense selection pressure on all manner of species. And we humans might not like the result.
Monosson reveals that the very code of life is more fluid than once imagined. When our powerful chemicals put the pressure on to evolve or die, beneficial traits can sweep rapidly through a population. Species with explosive population growth—the bugs, bacteria, and weeds—tend to thrive, while bigger, slower-to-reproduce creatures, like ourselves, are more likely to succumb.
Monosson explores contemporary evolution in all its guises. She examines the species that we are actively trying to beat back, from agricultural pests to life-threatening bacteria, and those that are collateral damage—creatures struggling to adapt to a polluted world. Monosson also presents cutting-edge science on gene expression, showing how environmental stressors are leaving their mark on plants, animals, and possibly humans for generations to come.
Unnatural Selection is eye-opening and more than a little disquieting. But it also suggests how we might lessen our impact: manage pests without creating super bugs; protect individuals from disease without inviting epidemics; and benefit from technology without threatening the health of our children.
The rampant use of genetically modified food incites fierce and seemingly intractable debates among environmental activists, scientists, government regulators, and representatives of the food and agriculture industries. While some portray GMOs as scientific progress, others frame them as a form of perverted science. But why, exactly, are they so controversial? This timely and balanced book explores the science—and myth—that surrounds genetically modified food in order to help us understand just what’s at stake.
John T. Lang begins by grounding the debates in the biology and chemistry behind genetic modification. He then shows how food is deeply imbued with religious, social, cultural, and ethical meanings, which bring a variety of non-scientific issues to the forefront and make genetically modified food a proxy for larger debates regarding topics such as globalization and corporate greed. Centrally, he contends that the controversies surrounding the technology reflect ongoing tensions between social and political power, democratic practice, and corporate responsibility. As Lang illustrates, while modern, mechanized, and genetically enhanced production has given the consumer an unprecedented variety and quantity of food, it has also introduced new social and environmental vulnerabilities and uncertainties into the global food system.
Bringing together science, politics, economics, and culture, this book offers a deeply informed look at an important aspect of modern agriculture. It will prove invaluable to anyone who shops at the grocery store, whether they like the benefits that genetic modification has to offer or fear that nature is something we should have left alone.
Whose View of Life?
Jane MAIENSCHEIN Harvard University Press, 2003 Library of Congress QP277.M356 2003 | Dewey Decimal 176
Saving lives versus taking lives: These are the stark terms in which the public regards human embryo research--a battleground of extremes, a war between science and ethics. Such a simplistic dichotomy, encouraged by vociferous opponents of abortion and proponents of medical research, is precisely what Jane Maienschein seeks to counter with this book. Whose View of Life? brings the current debates into sharper focus by examining developments in stem cell research, cloning, and embryology in historical and philosophical context and by exploring legal, social, and ethical issues at the heart of what has become a political controversy.
Drawing on her experience as a researcher, teacher, and congressional fellow, Jane Maienschein provides historical and contemporary analysis to aid understanding of the scientific and social forces that got us where we are today. For example, she explains the long-established traditions behind conflicting views of how life begins--at conception or gradually, in the course of development. She prepares us to engage a major question of our day: How are we, as a 21st-century democratic society, to navigate a course that is at the same time respectful of the range of competing views of life, built on the strongest possible basis of scientific knowledge, and still able to respond to the momentous opportunities and challenges presented to us by modern biology? Maienschein's multidisciplinary perspective will provide a starting point for further attempts to answer this question.
Table of Contents:
1. From the Beginning 2. Interpreting Embryos, Understanding Life 3. Genetics, Embryology, and Cloning Frogs 4. Recombinant DNA, IVF, and Abortion Politics 5. From Genetics to Genomania 6. Facts and Fantasies of Cloning 7. Hopes and Hypes for Stem Cells
Reviews of this book: At what point does an embryo or fetus become 'human'? This question is at the core of today's battle over stem cell research, and that battle, Maienschein believes, is central to questions about the respective roles of science and morality in a democracy. Maienschein, director of the Center for Biology and Society at Arizona State University, puts the question of when life begins in historical and philosophical context....This book should be required reading for anyone trying to understand the scientific and ethical issues that will dominate medicine in the next quarter century. --Publishers Weekly
Maienschein brilliantly brings to the debate a variable absent in most discussions of the subject--history...[She] offers an insider's view on several fronts. A well-established academic whose field is the history of developmental biology, she is also a former Congressional fellow, and thus is well placed to deplore politicians' strategic invocation of the phrase 'sound science' to support their a priori ideological positions. Her mantra is that good ethics begin with good facts, such as the fact that differentiated cells appear and have the capacity to experience sensation only after fourteen days; that the heart beats only after twenty-two days; that organisms at birth are the product of both genes and the womb environment, which interact in an endless feedback loop; that societies have in the past drawn the line on where life begins at myriad points and will continue to do so as science and our tools shift our understanding of what life is. In short, her message is that, in a democratic pluralistic society, we must use facts and the lessons of history rather than gut instincts...to navigate a course that is respectful of competing views while rising to the challenges of biomedicine. --Michele Pridmore-Brown, Times Literary Supplement [UK]
The debate in America over abortion and research with human embryos is so polarized that it is easy to forget that today's passionately held views of the intrinsic moral status of the embryo are but the latest in an ever-evolving understanding of human biology and its implications for theology and philosophy. Jane Maienschein's delightful book Whose View of Life? is a welcome reminder--and, for optimists, represents the hope--that today's intransigence might someday yield to a humbler stance by all partisans in this debate. --R. Alta Charo, New England Journal of Medicine
Maienschein's historical account is both engaging and accurate. --Robert Winston, Nature [UK]
Jane Maienschein has written a startlingly clear account of our current knowledge and anxiety about embryos, stem cells and the swirl of politics that surrounds these issues. Whose View of Life? is widely informative and yet balanced and even. This is a book that should be read by scientists, ethicists, moralists and the general public. Indeed, I hope the publishers send a free copy to each member of Congress. --Michael S. Gazzaniga, Dean of the Faculty, Dartmouth College, and member of the President's Commission on Bioethics
This is a wonderfully timely, sensible, and clear-headed look at the one of the most controversial issues in biomedicine today. It is just the book we would hope for from a distinguished historian of biology and medicine. Most people who have been following the story of cloning and stem cells for the last half dozen years or so--say since Dolly--have a grazing, close-up view. Whose View of Life? provides the panoramic perspective that we sorely need. How lucky we are to have Jane Maienschein to widen our horizons. --Jonathan Weiner, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Beak of the Finch
Jane Maienschein has produced an invaluable book. She invites the reader to consider the question of how 'a life' has been defined from diverse viewpoints. Her rich experience as a scholar, teacher and legislative advisor makes her account essential reading for anyone interested in the social consequences of modern biology and biotechnology. --Garland Allen, Professor of Biology, Washington University in St. Louis
Do your ears burn whenever you eat hot chile peppers? Does your face immediately flush when you drink alcohol? Does your stomach groan if you are exposed to raw milk or green fava beans? If so, you are probably among the one-third of the world's human population that is sensitive to certain foods due to your genes' interactions with them.
Formerly misunderstood as "genetic disorders," many of these sensitivities are now considered to be adaptations that our ancestors evolved in response to the dietary choices and diseases they faced over millennia in particular landscapes. They are liabilities only when we are "out of place," on globalized diets depleted of certain chemicals that triggered adaptive responses in our ancestors.
In Why Some Like It Hot, an award-winning natural historian takes us on a culinary odyssey to solve the puzzles posed by "the ghosts of evolution" hidden within every culture and its traditional cuisine. As we travel with Nabhan from Java and Bali to Crete and Sardinia, to Hawaii and Mexico, we learn how various ethnic cuisines formerly protected their traditional consumers from both infectious and nutrition-related diseases. We also bear witness to the tragic consequences of the loss of traditional foods, from adult-onset diabetes running rampant among 100 million indigenous peoples to the historic rise in heart disease among individuals of northern European descent.
In this, the most insightful and far-reaching book of his career, Nabhan offers us a view of genes, diets, ethnicity, and place that will forever change the way we understand human health and cultural diversity. This book marks the dawning of evolutionary gastronomy in a way that may save and enrich millions of lives.
The X in Sex
David. BAINBRIDGE Harvard University Press, 2003 Library of Congress QH600.5.B35 2003 | Dewey Decimal 611.01816
A tiny scrap of genetic information determines our sex; it also consigns many of us to a life of disease, directs or disrupts the everyday working of our bodies, and forces women to live as genetic chimeras. The culprit--so necessary and yet the source of such upheaval--is the X chromosome, and this is its story. An enlightening and entertaining tour of the cultural and natural history of this intriguing member of the genome, The X in Sex traces the journey toward our current understanding of the nature of X. From its chance discovery in the nineteenth century to the promise and implications of ongoing research, David Bainbridge shows how the X evolved and where it and its counterpart Y are going, how it helps assign developing human babies their sex--and maybe even their sexuality--and how it affects our lives in infinitely complex and subtle ways. X offers cures for disease, challenges our cultural, ethical, and scientific assumptions about maleness and femaleness, and has even reshaped our views of human evolution and human nature.
Table of Contents:
1. Making a Difference Interlude: What Is It, Exactly? 2. The Duke of Kent's Testicles Interlude: How Sexy Is X? 3. The Double Life of Women
Epilogue: The Chosen One
Further Reading Glossary Index
Reviews of this book: The author of Making Babies takes a lively, witty tour of the X chromosome, creator of "a delicious symmetry between men and women"...Entertaining and informative...A fine demonstration of science made accessible. --Kirkus Reviews
Reviews of this book: A well-written, well-researched, easy-to-read study that explains what has been learned about the X and Y chromosomes using DNA sequencing and other molecular biology techniques. British biologist Bainbridge...has pulled together historical and current scientific research about how the X and Y chromosomes affect us and what the genes on these chromosomes actually do, like causing sex-linked diseases and color blindness...An excellent example of good science writing...Recommended. --Margaret Henderson, Library Journal
Reviews of this book: Bainbridge is an essentialist, interested in understanding what aspects of gender are biologically driven, and why...He has a central question he wants to answer. The question is not so much why men and women are different (a worn topic that's the subject of too many Mars-and-Venus bestsellers) but, far more specific and far more interesting: Why are men and women more different than they need to be? --Liza Mundy, Washington Post
Reviews of this book: Bainbridge summarizes our knowledge of the genetic information that determines one's sex by recounting the ancients' speculations about the genesis of gender, following with modern biologists' discovery of the X and Y chromosomes about a century ago, and of the sex-determining gene Sry in the 1990s. In a discussion rich with history, evolution, and philosophy, Bainbridge points out the dramatic effect that gender selection has on people's lives...A fascinating, often humorous analysis of the science of sexuality. --Gilbert Taylor, Booklist
Reviews of this book: In The X in Sex, David Bainbridge explains the far-reaching effects of X. Bainbridge...moves with ease between straightforward accounts of biology and historical stories about its effect, like the chapter describing the progression of hemophilia through the royal houses of Europe. Bainbridge discusses cultural history as well as natural history, and his wit enlivens every page. --Christine Kenneally, New York Times Book Review
Reviews of this book: There are many literary stars (such as Stephen Jay Gould, Richard Dawkins and Matt Ridley) in the firmament of writers on evolution, and to a man they write with dash and persuasive logic. David Bainbridge is one such and in his latest book he takes the reader through the glories of the X chromosome at a cracking pace. --Miriam Stoppard, Times Higher Education Supplement (UK)
Reviews of this book: The truth is that the behaviours of [chromosomes] X and Y are inextricably linked. Bainbridge explores this link in a compelling tale that takes in how the sex chromosomes became sex chromosomes, and the very different consequences of this for women and men. Along the way we encounter the Duke of Kent's testicles, calico cats and non-identical identical twin girls. His story weaves science, history and the history of science (with a little religion for good measure) in a straightforward, anecdotal fashion that will appeal to scientists and non-scientists alike. --Mark T. Ross, New Scientist (UK)
Reviews of this book: In his structure/function analysis of the X chromosome, Bainbridge provides a tongue-in-cheek, yet informative, description of one of the two human sex chromosomes. --R. Adler, Choice
Reviews of this book: If you have ever been intrigued by some of the puzzles of genetics--why boys tend to get haemophilia or colour blindness while girls are more likely to have an identical twin or to develop rheumatoid arthritis later in life--then The X in Sex is for you. --Chris Tyler-Smith, Times Literary Supplement
David Bainbridge takes us on a fascinating tour of X chromosomes and explains what the possession of these intricately folded, infinitessimally narrow, two-inch long strings of genetic codes weighing almost nothing, means for their bearers--that is for each one of us, male and female. History and personal anecdotes are woven together with up-to-date summaries of the science, punctuated with Bainbridge's zany--and very British--humor, so that this information-packed book is pure pleasure to read. --Sarah Blaffer Hrdy author of Mother Nature: A History of Mothers, Infants, and Natural Selection
The X in Sex is absolutely fascinating, so intriguing, in fact, that I found myself unwilling to put it down. David Bainbridge surveys an astonishing amount of new information from recent genomic studies of the X chromosome, clearly explaining the findings in a way the average person can easily follow. The science is presented via amusing and highly appropriate metaphors and clever turns of phrase, all of which serve to brighten the prose and present the reader with catchy ways to think about complex ideas. This is an informative, authoritative, and thoroughly enjoyable read: one of the best books I have read in recent years. --Jane Lancaster, University of New Mexico
This is wonderful stuff--beautifully written, clear, jargon-free, with anecdotes sure to hold the attention. --Tim Birkhead, author of Promiscuity: An Evolutionary History of Sperm Competition