Designer Genes: A New Era in the Evolution of Man

Steven Potter, Random, $24.95 (208p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6905-7
Despite the thinness of this book, Potter, professor of pediatrics at Children's Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, is comfortable making a sweeping conclusion: that we are quickly reaching the point where our ability to manipulate genes "could well mean the end of the human race as we know it, but perhaps the beginning of something better." Unfortunately, he doesn't provide nearly enough substance in this short primer to permit such a momentous conclusion. Potter simply offers very basic information about genetics, such as the structure of chromosomes, as well as a cursory overview of in vitro fertilization techniques and gene screening and selection. He writes as if genes alone were responsible for human behavior, with the environment playing no role. His chapter on athletics assumes that practice and perseverance matter not a whit. On the ethical front, he addresses the question of using embryos for research, but he deals superficially with these complex topics, and his discussion of when embryos gain a soul is awkward. Although the science needed to accomplish most of what Potter foresees has yet to arrive, his optimism knows no limits: "Any problems that arise will be overcome in time." 4 b&w illus. (Sept. 14)
Reviewed on: 07/19/2010
Release date: 09/01/2010
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 105 pages - 978-1-58836-998-7
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