Times are changing, and now, looking back at Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, we have a right to ask ourselves how ‘science-fiction-like’ his science-fiction novel is; the society he portrayed back in 1932 as operating on the principles of mass production and Pavlovian conditioning must have been overlooked at the time because of the social and political unrest looming large in Europe: a radical revision of the world order was under way, which culminated with the global conflict we now know as WWII.
Human Beings: how surprising an adventure to understand them, or, rather, to try to find the essence of their be-have-do patterns (see The haves and have-nots around us I). But let’s not jump to conclusions yet; for the time being you’ll agree that we can affirm at least this: once an idea is born inside a person’s mind there’s nothing to stop it from developing. How else could we grasp the meaning of genetic engineering if not by considering the attempts on behalf of generations of scientists at discovering the secret of life?
|Google Images: Genetic geneOlogy|
So, why look into the DNA structure? Well, because it’s there!
The article you’ve read in the previous post speaks about exactly that: the adventure of looking into things. Surely, it’s not new anymore, for it was written some time before 1993, and what was then considered as theoretically possible (see article in A Walk in Utopia I) has developed into fact (history) and (still) [science-]fiction.
Whether the manipulation of human genes is meant for healing wounds (1j), treating pancreas dysfunction (2e), bone disease (4a), or preventing heart attack (5l), the underlying concept is the same: medical magic bullets directed to specific targets with a view to helping the organism against strokes (6h), lung cancer (7k), or diabetes (8d). But there’s no denying that prevention is better than cure, and this may well be the turning point in scientific research: the future is now, for the proceedings of biotechnology are supposed to advise on genetic therapy which, in turn, may give us super-babies (9b), bring about a Revolution (10i) in body information storage, correct inherited defects by means of drugs (11g) – all in all, lead to a complete understanding of disease (12c).
It’s high time we listened to the expert: here’s Craig Venter, the one scientist under whose supervision the human genome was decoded, and his programme ‘A Voyage of DNA, genes, and the sea':
Now after watching Craig Venter’s film, and in the light of the advances of biotechnology mentioned in the article, the question arises: what advantages and disadvantages do you see to genetic engineering? Give examples of its uses, and try to draw the line between fiction and non-fiction yourself. Your comments will be, as always, welcome!