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The Biotech Century: Harnessing the Gene and Remaking the World by Jeremy Rifken

1998; 271 pp. $24.95. Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam.

Rifkin has been by far the best translator and synthesist of the labyrinthine issues surrounding genetic engineering since his presciently entitled book, Who Should Play God ? [out of print]. Because of his early work and that of many others, it is becoming painfully obvious to multinational corporations such as Monsanto that they may not get that coveted role.

While the public (particularly in Europe) continues to focus on food issues and the attempt of a handful of powerful corporations to attain global dominance in genetically engineered seeds, a plethora of other applications go largely unnoticed?transgenic animals, among the more startling and disturbing.

In this book, Rifkin is at his best. A few small scientific errors in some of his past writings allowed corporations to throw the baby out and ignore him. Corporate transgeneticists named anticipated protests to their new "products" the Rifkin Factor, as if there would always be a small cadre of extremists who would try to stop the march of science. They were wrong. Rifkin's work has bloomed a thousand times over in the protests of citizens, countries, and scientists.

In The Biotech Century Rifkin demonstrates the inevitability of the Biology Century, and delineates the forces that will introduce these issues into every facet of our lives. Rifkin shows that the thrust of present Baconian science, rather than merely being an arcane debate, will be equivalent to the strip-mining of nature and world culture. We are out of control, in Kevin Kelly's words, and no book better chronicles the magnitude or scope of this revolutionary departure from biology.


ISBN: 0874779537

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