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In Context #20 (Fall 2008, p. 10); copyright 2008 by The Nature Institute

Our Book Reviewed

As we noted in our last issue, Craig and Steve's new book, Beyond Biotechnology: The Barren Promise of Genetic Engineering, was published in the spring by the University Press of Kentucky. If the authors had been asked then, "What journal would you most hope to be reviewed in?" the answer might well have been Nature Biotechnology. And now, to their admitted surprise, exactly such a review has appeared. Of course, the next thing the authors might have hoped for was a tolerably good review. As it turns out, the review surpassed all hopes.

The reviewer was Lenny Moss, a biologist-turned-philosopher at the UK's University of Exeter. Noting that "the moral of Holdrege and Talbott's story is that biological context is important," he goes on to observe that "too much of the public debate about biotech has been merely a shallow volley between those working two sides of what amounts to essentially the same street - the gene-tech boosters and/or self-styled 'transhumanists' on the one side and the pious bioconservatives on the other. To the extent to which both sides share the same, largely tacit, reductionist vision of the organism, Holdrege and Talbott proffer a plague upon both their houses."

After briefly limning various topics and contentions presen