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BOOK REVIEW The Genetic Revolution: Scientific Prospects and Public Perceptions. Edited by Bernard D. Davis. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press. 1991. Pp. 295. $15.95 paperback; $45.00 hardcover. When does a revolution start? When a theoretical physicist presents an equation : E = mc2? When two bicycle makers launch a flying machine? When a monk explains the results of crosses between different pea varieties? A case can be made for defining a revolution by its human rather than its intellectual impact. A society and, by extension, its industrial and/or military components recognizes a revolution when it impacts on the status quo, usually well after Pandora's box has been opened or the apple has been eaten. The Genetic Revolution poses the usual problems. The village people have to confront the remarkable creation of Dr. Frankenstein. Our society is more sophisticated and will not kill the monster. This time, the monster will be tamed and put to work. The debate will involve the taming and the tamers. The genetic revolution is here, will not be stopped, and is likely to become a significant contributor to the GNP of "little" countries with relatively few natural resources and a small but strong academic-technical community. The chapters are the products ofa study sponsored by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and present the scientific roots of the genetic revolution and its possible impact on the environment, the future of medical sciences, agriculture, and public policy (in other words, regulation). For the record, the genetic revolution began in the mid-1970s. It has indeed been a revolution in biomedical and agricultural research, and it is in full tide. The revolution has come to Wall Street (see Gene Dreams by R. Teitelman, 1989) by way of the pharmaceutical and chemical industries and agribusiness. The revolution will have an enormous impact on society and medical practice and perhaps on medical ethics. The concerned and the fanatic should read The Genetic Revolution before they pontificate on and legislate the future of the genetic revolution. E. D. Garber Department of Ecology and Evolution University of Chicago Permission to reprint a book review printed in this section may be obtained only from the author. 620 I Book Review ...


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