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John Marsden
Peter S. Williams
Crispin Tickell
Future Human Evolution Reviews
Neil Levy

Gregory Stock

Redesigning Humans

Many people feel uneasy with new genetic technologies, and in particular feel that human germline manipulation should not be allowed. In Redesigning Humans: Choosing our Children's Genes Gregory Stock sees this as too much of a knee-jerk reaction. He considers such germinal choice technology (GCT) as a continuation of the efforts parents have made to do the best for their children, and believes that such prospective parents won't be put off by laws based on some vague uneasiness. Some will find a way to get such technology, and then others will feel compelled to follow suit - or else face the consequence of having to explain to their children why they were born at a disadvantage.

Sometimes Stock seems to be saying the same thing over again - parent pressure will make GCT happen - rather than trying to go more deeply into the arguments for and against. Overall, however, the book provides an interesting account of the benefits, such as longer life or higher IQ, which GCT might bring, together with a look at the technologies which might make it happen - for instance an artificial chromosome, which could be removed or upgraded when the bearers decide to have children of their own. It's a book which will interest anyone concerned with the future of our species, and certainly it shows that those who think that GCT should be banned are going to have to come up with some much more persuasive arguments.

Amazon.com info
Hardcover 400 pages  
ISBN: 1861972423
Salesrank: 4576999
Published: 2002 Profile Books
Amazon price $5.45
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Amazon.co.uk info
Hardcover 288 pages  
ISBN: 1861972423
Salesrank: 1797988
Weight:1.3 lbs
Published: 2002 Profile Books
Marketplace:New from £2.90:Used from £0.45
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Amazon.ca info
Hardcover 288 pages  
ISBN: 1861972423
Salesrank: 3090455
Weight:1.3 lbs
Published: 2002 Profile Books Ltd
Amazon price CDN$ 42.95
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 10.00:Used from CDN$ 2.65
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Amazon Review
Scientist Gregory Stock's Redesigning Humans was published simultaneously with Francis Fukuyama's Our Posthuman Future and while they both discuss aspects of the biotechnology revolution--including the ethics of stem cell research, human cloning and germ-line engineering--they take diametrically opposed views. Fukuyama argues that if we are to avoid some of the worst political consequences of the biotech revolution then sweeping national and international regulation is required. For Stock the very idea of sweeping regulation is misconceived. Our collective challenge, Stock argues, is not to figure out how to block these developments, but how best to realise their benefits while minimising our risks and safeguarding our rights and freedoms. The best way to do that is to inform ourselves about the technologies while realising that we are not in need of special ethical or political training to face up to the choices those technologies will eventually offer us.

What's really interesting about this book is that Stock has managed to write something of a quest romance while discussing the nitty-gritty details of the technologies themselves. The tone of the book from the opening Marcus Garvey quotation--"God and Nature first made us what we are, and then out of our own created genius we make ourselves what we want to be"--encourages us to think of the biotech revolution as a kind of New Frontier. But by keeping his discussion largely focused upon the technologies themselves, he steers the reader away from, on the one hand, the false hope that we are on the threshold of creating super-humans, or the unjustified fear that liberal democratic culture will be undone by the new developments.--Larry Brown