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Noteworthy Post-Announcement Media Accounts

Genetic Crossroads
August 4th, 2000

Two post-announcement articles that sound a clear alarm about the

prospect of human germline engineering were written by Ralph Brave.
"Unnatural Selection: Will Unlocking the Human Genome Create an Evolution
Revolution?" appeared in the June 21-June 27 Baltimore City Paper. See
<http://www.citypaper.com/2000-06-21/feature.html>.

For Brave's "Building Better Humans," see <http://www.salon.com/health/feature/
2000/06/27/germline/print.html
>.

An op-ed by Stuart Newman, developmental biologist at New York Medical
College and chair of the Human Genetics Committee of the Council for
Responsible Genetics, appeared in the July 25 Saint Louis Post-Dispatch.
"Don't Try to Engineer Human Embryos" concludes, "Genetic manipulation of
future generations is a path we as a species have not yet taken. Science
and history provide us with ample reason to refrain from implementing a
technology that will be portrayed by some as desirable or inevitable, but
in fact would be both perilous and irreversible." See the archives at <http://www.postnet.com>.

Several articles questioned whether the announcement of the genome
sequencing was "hype." An example is Keay Davidson's "Sticking a
pin in genome mappers' balloon," San Francisco Examiner, July 5, 2000.
To access, go to <http://www.sfgate.com> and use the search function on
"staff-written articles."

Others enthused about human germline engineering or declared its
inevitability. In a 16-page section on the human genome in its July
1-7 issue, The Economist predicted, "People now alive will witness…the birth of people whose biology has been optimised from conception
to be resistant to disease and old age. They may even see a world
where children are tailored to the wishes of their parents." See
<http://www.economist.com/ editorial/freeforall/20000701/index_survey.html>
and click on "Future perfect?"

The New Republic (July 10 & 17) editorialized, "Subsequent generations,
perhaps as soon as our grandchildren's, may be known not as Homo sapiens
but as Homo geneticus or Homo Glaxo Wellcomus. For good or ill, people
are about to take over the role of God and nature in determining the
course of evolution." See <http://www.tnr.com/071000/editorial071000.html>.

In a Wall Street Journal column titled "A Milestone in the Conquest of
Nature" (June 27), Francis Fukuyama wrote, "Once we better understand the
genetic sources of behavior….[t]he way is then open to superceding the
human race with something different….Parents want the best for their
children, whether it is a matter of height, intelligence, looks or social
adjustment. Who is going to tell them this is wrong? Biotechnology, we
might say, will help the human race get better."


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