Biotechnology-the manipulation of the basic building blocks of life-is rapidly advancing in laboratories around the world. It has become routine to refer to DNA fingerprints and genetically engineered foods.
Yet the "how to" of biotechnology is only the beginning. For every report of new therapies or better ways to produce food, there is a Jurassic Park scenario to remind us of the potential pitfalls.
Biotechnology raises serious issues for scientists and nonscientists alike: Who will decide what is safe? Who will have access to our personal genetic information? What are the risks when advanced science becomes big business?
In Biotechnology, experts from science, law, industry, and government explore a cross-section of emerging issues. This book offers straightforward explanations of basic science and provides insight into the serious social questions raised by these findings.
The discussions explore five key areas:
- The state of the art in biotechnology-including an overview of the genetic revolution, the development of recombinant DNA technology, and the possibilities for applying the new techniques.
- Potential benefits to medicine and the environment-including gene therapy, the emerging area of tissue engineering and biomaterials, and the development of therapeutic proteins.
- Issues in technology transfer-focusing on the sometimes controversial relationship between university research centers and industry.
- Ethics, behavior, and values-exploring the ethical issues that surround basic research and applications of new technology, with a discussion of scientific misconduct and a penetrating look at the social impact of genetic discoveries.
- Government's role-including a comparison of U.S., European, and Japanese policies on pharmaceutical and biotechnology development.
Biotechnology is here to stay, and this volume adds immeasurably to understanding its multiple aspects and far-reaching implications. This book will be of interest to scientists and industry leaders involved in biotechnology issues-and it will be welcomed by the concerned lay reader.
Frederick B. Rudolph, Ph.D., is a professor of biochemistry and cell biology at Rice University and is executive director of the Institute of Biosciences and Bioengineering.
Larry V. McIntire, Ph.D., is the E. D. Butcher Professor of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering at Rice University and is chair of the Institute of Biosciences and Bioengineering.