SHAPING GENETIC FUTURE
By: Ben Bova
The Hartford Courant
HEALTH/SCIENCE; Pg. F1
July 21, 1998
"Remaking Eden: Cloning and Beyond in a Brave New World" by Lee M. Silver (Avon Books, $25, 317 pp.) is about the tremendous possibilities of what the author calls reprogenic engineering -- deliberate alterations in the genetic makeup of individual human beings.
Silver is a professor at Princeton University's departments of molecular biology, ecology and evolutionary biology, and the school's program in neuroscience. His book paints a scenario in which the human race actively shapes its own genetic future. He shows both the thrilling opportunities this presents, and the chilling dangers.
One of the reasons that many people fear cloning and genetic manipulations is that they associate such ideas with the concept of trying to produce some sort of "ideal" human beings through eugenics, by deliberately selecting genetic traits such as height, eye color, etc.Especially to those who remember Nazi Germany's misguided and murderous quest for a "master race," eugenics is anathema.
Silver shows that such fears are shortsighted -- and naive. His real worry is that the human race will diverge into two parts, rich people who can afford genetic enhancements for themselves and their children (the GenRich) and poor people who can not (the Normals). He sees the possibility that these two groups will drift apart genetically until they become literally two separate species, unable to interbreed.
Yet he sees much more: a future in which the human race grows to physical and mental -- and even spiritual -- perfection. The capability is within us. "Remaking Eden" shows the paths into the future that we might follow, for better or for ill.