Dazzled by the science
Biologists who dress up hi-tech eugenics as a new art form are dangerously
Tuesday January 14, 2003
Recently, J Craig Venter, the gene scientist whose company, Celera Genomics,
led the race to map the human genome, announced a plan to create the first
artificial life form in a laboratory dish. Venter, who has teamed up with the
Nobel laureate biologist Hamilton Smith, says he hopes to use a $3m US
government grant to create partially man-made organisms that could produce
hydrogen for fuel or break down carbon dioxide from power plant emissions.
Other scientists worry that Venter's creation could wreak havoc on natural
ecosystems or be used to create new kinds of biological weapons.
Venter is among a new genre of biologists who see themselves less as engineers
and more as creative artists – designers and architects of what they envision
as a “second genesis” – this one inspired not by divine guidance or by the
forces of evolution, but by the human imagination. Ironically, this subtle
shift in the focus of the biological sciences from “engineering” to “art” is
being mirrored in the art community, raising the question of whether a new
social gestalt is being readied to make acceptable this radical new
manipulation of nature.
just makes you want to say skytrance instead of science…. the ideological embeddedness of many scientists seems transparent, until it kills people.