I often try to use this space to lay the groundwork for the following pages. The first half or more of each issue of GeneWatch is devoted to a specific topic (loyal readers will have noticed), and before launching into the heavy lifting the unaccustomed reader may find it useful to skim through a quick primer or a framing of the subject at hand.
There is only so much I can help you this time around. The real experts on assisted reproductive technologies (or ARTs-that's our topic this time around, in case you missed it) appear on pages 4 through 38; besides, for all I know, you may already be well versed in the particulars of the various technologies and their implications. You may have already committed to memory the U.S. Centers for Disease Control's broad definition of ART as "all fertility treatments in which both eggs and sperm are handled." If this is the case, there's a good chance you have already muttered aloud, wherever you're reading this, "Get on with it already!" or else flipped ahead to the good stuff.
On the other hand, perhaps your knowledge of in vitro fertilization and multiple embryo transfers begins and ends at the case of Nadya Suleman, aka "Octomom." There's no shame in admitting that you first learned of commercial surrogacy through Baby Mama, the 2008 comedy starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, or that up to this point you thought egg donation was the exclusive domain of the Easter Bunny (OK, there's some shame in admitting the latter). If any of these are the case, you might be well served by a bit of Googling before launching headfirst into the commentaries ahead. In the meantime, you may want to start by reading pages 39 through 49, where you'll find a feature section on genetic reductionism and the geniticization of criminal behavior with new articles by Troy Duster and Kenneth Weiss; an exclusive discussion on public safety concerns surrounding the construction of a synthetic biology lab in Berkeley, California; and Colin O'Neil's notes on the latest developments in the AquaBounty genetically engineered salmon saga.
Whether you fall into either of those extremes or (more likely) between them, you either know how immediately important the implications of assisted reproductive technologies are-or you will after you read this issue.