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Order the Latest Book form the Council for Responsible Genetics

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A fascinating look at the history of contemporary biology from the Council for Responsible Genetics on its thirtieth anniversary.  For a quarter of a century, the Council for Responsible Genetics has provided a unique historical lens into the modern history, science, ethics, and politics of genetic technologies. Since 1983 the Council has had leading scientists, activists, science writers, and public health advocates researching and reporting on a broad spectrum of issues, including genetically engineered foods, biological weapons, genetic privacy and discrimination, reproductive technologies, and human cloning.

Biotechnology in Our Lives examines how these issues affect us daily whether we realize it or not. Written for the nonscientist, it looks at the many applications of genetics on the world around us by posing questions such as:

  • What should we know about genetics and childbirth?
  • Can our genes keep us from qualifying for health insurance?
  • Can gene therapy cure cancer?
  • Is behavior genetically determined?
  • Why would the FBI want our genes?
  • Are foreign genes in our food?
  • And much more


Ultimately, this definitive book on the subject also encourages us to think about the social, environmental, and moral ramifications of where this technology is taking us. 


Reviews:

“The beauty of this tome is how clear and concise the messages are from scholars, advocates, and scientists.” (The Philadelphia Inquirer) Read the full review.

“Important essays on one of the most important topics of our time. If you want to understand the 21st century, this is a good place to start!” (Bill McKibben, Schumann Distinguished Scholar, Middlebury College)

 

 



From the Council for Responsible Genetics


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Can genes determine which fifty-year-old will succumb to Alzheimer’s, which citizen will turn out on voting day, and which child will be marked for a life of crime? Yes, according to the Internet, a few scientific studies, and some in the biotechnology industry who should know better. Sheldon Krimsky and Jeremy Gruber gather a team of genetic experts to argue that treating genes as the holy grail of our physical being is a patently unscientific endeavor. Genetic Explanations urges us to replace our faith in genetic determinism with scientific knowledge about how DNA actually contributes to human development.

The concept of the gene has been steadily revised since Watson and Crick discovered the structure of the DNA molecule in 1953. No longer viewed by scientists as the cell’s fixed set of master molecules, genes and DNA are seen as a dynamic script that is ad-libbed at each stage of development. Rather than an autonomous predictor of disease, the DNA we inherit interacts continuously with the environment and functions differently as we age. What our parents hand down to us is just the beginning. Emphasizing relatively new understandings of genetic plasticity and epigenetic inheritance, the authors put into a broad developmental context the role genes are known to play in disease, behavior, evolution, and cognition.

Rather than dismissing genetic reductionism out of hand, Krimsky and Gruber ask why it persists despite opposing scientific evidence, how it influences attitudes about human behavior, and how it figures in the politics of research funding.

Reviews:

 

“A welcome contribution, Genetic Explanations will be a valuable resource for those seeking to sort exaggerated claims about genetic causation from solid scientific achievements.”—Troy Duster, author of Backdoor to Eugenics

 

“Important and optimistic, Genetic Explanations clears the way for an open discourse on human identity in the age of DNA, clearly demonstrating the many ways in which the information in our DNA interacts with our experience over the course of a lifetime.”—Robert Pollack, Professor of Biological Sciences and Director of the Center for the Study of Science and Religion, Columbia University


"The chapters present well-reasoned arguments that draw attention to the limitations of genetics and DNA sequence in explaining phenomena in the field at hand. It is on this matter that the book succeeds enormously and...provides a fascinating and important set of arguments to ponder."- DNA and Cell Biology Journal.  Read the Full Review.

"This collection constitutes a potent debunking of the homunculus-genome and the ideology of DNA of which it is a part. It is an example of debunking as positive science at its best, utilizing positive science to drive out fallacious ideas. It also forces us to realize, if somewhat uncomfortably, that what needs debunking are not simply defenses of intelligent design or denials of climate change, but articles that appear in prestigious science and social science journals and are reported on in glowing terms in the science section of The New York Times."- Journal Logos.  Read the Full Review.






From the Council for Responsible Genetics

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Do advances in genomic biology create a scientific rationale for long-discredited racial categories? Leading scholars in law, medicine, biology, sociology, history, anthropology, and psychology examine the impact of modern genetics on the concept of race. Contributors trace the interplay between genetics and race in forensic DNA databanks, the biology of intelligence, DNA ancestry markers, and racialized medicine. Each essay explores commonly held and unexamined assumptions and misperceptions about race in science and popular culture.

This collection begins with the historical origins and current uses of the concept of "race" in science. It follows with an analysis of the role of race in DNA databanks and racial disparities in the criminal justice system. Essays then consider the rise of recreational genetics in the form of for-profit testing of genetic ancestry and the introduction of racialized medicine, specifically through an FDA-approved heart drug called BiDil, marketed to African American men. Concluding sections discuss the contradictions between our scientific and cultural understandings of race and the continuing significance of race in educational and criminal justice policy.


Reviews

"There is perhaps no issue that is of more interest and relevance to the social study of science and public health than race and genetics, and Sheldon Krimsky and Kathleen Sloan are leaders in the field. Novel and forward thinking, this book will be a valuable addition to a literature that needs to be brought up to speed." — David Rosner, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University

"A signal contribution. This volume wonderfully reflects the mission and track record of the Council for Responsible Genetics in clarifying the content and social significance of complex scientific issues and demystifying the ideological penumbras that surround them. I can hardly wait for this book to begin circulation. It should be read and taught as widely as possible." — Adolph Reed Jr., University of Pennsylvania

"Essential reading for researchers, students, and policymakers seeking to challenge the new racial genetics." — Dorothy Roberts, author of Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-First Century




Order the latest book from CRG Board member Robert Desalle of the American Museum of Natural History

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Race has provided the rationale and excuse for some of the worst atrocities in human history. Yet, according to many biologists, physical anthropologists, and geneticists, there is no valid scientific justification for the concept of race.

To be more precise, although there is clearly some physical basis for the variations that underlie perceptions of race, clear boundaries among “races” remain highly elusive from a purely biological standpoint. Differences among human populations that people intuitively view as “racial” are not only superficial but are also of astonishingly recent origin.

In this intriguing and highly accessible book, physical anthropologist Ian Tattersall and geneticist Rob DeSalle, both senior scholars from the American Museum of Natural History, explain what human races actually are—and are not—and place them within the wider perspective of natural diversity. They explain that the relative isolation of local populations of the newly evolved human species during the last Ice Age—when Homo sapiens was spreading across the world from an African point of origin—has now begun to reverse itself, as differentiated human populations come back into contact and interbreed. Indeed, the authors suggest that all of the variety seen outside of Africa seems to have both accumulated and started reintegrating within only the last 50,000 or 60,000 years—the blink of an eye, from an evolutionary perspective.

The overarching message of Race? Debunking a Scientific Myth is that scientifically speaking, there is nothing special about racial variation within the human species. These distinctions result from the working of entirely mundane evolutionary processes, such as those encountered in other organisms.
 
About the Authors

IAN TATTERSALL, curator emeritus in the American Museum of Natural History, is also the author of Paleontology: A Brief History of Life (Templeton Press, 2010), The Fossil Trail: How We Know What We Think We Know about Human Evolution (Oxford University Press, 2009), and The World from Beginnings to 4000 BCE (Oxford University Press, 2008).

ROB DESALLE is a curator at the American Museum of Natural History in the Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics. He curated the American Museum of Natural History’s new Hall of Human Origins (2006) and has written more than 300 peer-reviewed scientific publications and several books. Tattersall and DeSalle recently coauthored Human Origins: What Bones and Genomes Tell Us about Ourselves (Texas A&M University Press, 2007).

Reviews

"In the footsteps of Haddon and Huxley, a prominent anthropologist and a prominent evolutionary geneticist have teamed up to give us a powerful scientific critique of the commonsensical idea of race.  Distinguished scholars and skilled communicators, Ian Tattersall and Rob DeSalle show clearly how “race” simply cannot be used as a synonym for “human biological diversity”.  In the age of genomics, this partnership of intellectual specialties is particularly valuable, and the result is a splendid testament to the merits of trans-disciplinary collaborations."--Jon Marks, Department of Anthropology, University of North Carolina-Charlotte

 
New Book By CRG Board Members

Genetic Justice
By Sheldon Krimsky and Tania Simoncelli

National DNA databanks were initially established to catalogue the identities of violent criminals and sex offenders. However, since the mid-1990s, forensic DNA databanks have in some cases expanded to include people merely arrested, regardless of whether they've been charged or convicted of a crime. The public is largely unaware of these changes and the advances that biotechnology and forensic DNA science have made possible. Yet many citizens are beginning to realize that the unfettered collection of DNA profiles might compromise our basic freedoms and rights.

Two leading authors on medical ethics, science policy, and civil liberties take a hard look at how the United States has balanced the use of DNA technology, particularly the use of DNA databanks in criminal justice, with the privacy rights of its citizenry. Krimsky and Simoncelli analyze the constitutional, ethical, and sociopolitical implications of expanded DNA collection in the United States and compare these findings to trends in the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, Germany, and Italy. They explore many controversial topics, including the legal precedent for taking DNA from juveniles, the search for possible family members of suspects in DNA databases, the launch of "DNA dragnets" among local populations, and the warrantless acquisition by police of so-called abandoned DNA in the search for suspects. Most intriguing, Krimsky and Simoncelli explode the myth that DNA profiling is infallible, which has profound implications for criminal justice.

Review

"Indispensible and timely-Genetic Justice is necessary for anyone trying to navigate the myths and the science of the genomic era and its impact on our criminal justice system." -- Patricia Williams, Columbia Law School

ORDER GENETIC JUSTICE NOW

   




Biowarfare and Terrorism
By Francis A. Boyle
Foreword by Johnathan King

Biowarfare and Terrorism describes how and why the U.S. initiated, sustained and then dramatically expanded an illegal biological arms buildup. Linking U.S. biowarfare development to the October 2001 anthrax attack on Congress — the most significant political attack on U.S. democracy in recent history — Boyle sheds new light on the motives for the attack, the media black hole of silence that followed and why the FBI may never apprehend the perpetrators of this seminal crime of the 21st century.

About the Author: Francis A. Boyle is a leading American professor of international law who drafted the Biological Weapons AntiTerrorism Act of 1989. He teaches at the U. of Illinois. He holds a LLD, magna cum laude, and a PhD in Political Science, both from Harvard.

Buy Biowarfare and Terrorism

 

Rights and Liberties in the Biotech Age: Why We Need a Genetic Bill of Rights
Edited By Sheldon Krimsky and Peter Shorett
Foreword by Bill McKibben
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

Science is rapidly transforming our communities, our economies, and the natural environment. Corporations have rushed untested and unlabeled genetically modified food into the global marketplace. We are experimenting with species-altering changes to the human genome that may redesign what it means to be human.

Rights and Liberties in the Biotech Age argues for a set of principles to protect our individual liberties and communitarian interests against both the misuse and neglectful use of genetic technology. Building on the notion of a Genetic Bill of Rights, two dozen leading scientists, scholars, and public interest advocates examine the challenges we face in governing the future of genetics.

Order Rights and Liberties in the Biotech Age today.

Advance Praise for Rights and Liberties in the Biotech Age:

"This book is a wonderful blend of the radical and the conservative. It is radical, and persuasive, in proposing a genetic bill of rights. It is conservative, and no less persuasive, in warning us to keep the genetic developments under close scrutiny and control. If we may need some of the genetic developments we no less need to be protected from some of them as well. An impressive and needed book."
Daniel Callahan, The Hastings Center

"With chimerical experiments already underway that insert human brain cells into mice and pigs, and with bio-nanotechnology waiting impatiently in the wings, what we lack is a vigorous and spirited public forum in which to examine and engage such developments. No more. The idea of a Genetic Bill of Rights is the provocative jump-start to a serious discussion of policy and action options."
- Troy Duster, Institute for the History of the Production of Knowledge, New
York University

Contributors:

Ruth Hubbard, Marcy Darnovsky, Stuart A. Newman, John Tuhey, Peter J. Neufeld,
Sarah Tofte, Gregor Wolbring, Paul Steven Miller, Joseph S. Alper, Philip Bereano, Jeroo Kotval, José F. Morales, Sheldon Krimsky, Marc Lappé, Graham Dutfield, Vandana Shiva, Debra Harry, Richard Caplan, Doreen Stabinsky, Martha R. Herbert, Jonathan King, Matthew Albright, Hope Shand, Brian Tokar, Bill McKibben, Peter Shorett, and Paul R. Billings

 

Background Reading

Biotech Century  

The Biotech Century: Harnessing the Gene and Remaking the World

By Jeremy Rifkin

"...Rifkin does have a gift for raising relevant issues and real concerns. We should indeed try to understand the powers we have before employing them and to work through the ethical issues they raise."
-- The New York Times Book Review



Century of the Gene  

The Century of the Gene

By Evelyn Fox Keller

"Its coiner airily defined the word gene as "an expression for the 'unit factors'. . . demonstrated by modern Mendelian researches." It wasn't until the 1953 description of DNA that the little word's meaning solidified. Since then, Keller shows, it has deliquesced, because what a gene did and how it did it proved more complicated than anyone had anticipated."
-- Booklist



Triple Helix  

The Triple Helix: Gene, Organism, and Environment

by Richard Lewontin

"The time has come when further progress in our understanding of nature requires that we reconsider the relationship between the outside and the inside, between organism and environment."
-- From The Triple Helix


Genetic Engineering, Reproduction and Cloning

Redesigning Life  

Redesigning Life: The Worldwide Challenge to Genetic Engineering

by Brian Tokar

"The book is a superb collection of essays chronicling the development of biotechnology and the social reaction it has caused."
-- GeneWatch



Clone Age  

The Clone Age : Adventures in the New World of Reproductive Technology

by Lori Andrews

"Yesterday's science fiction is today's litigation, and nobody knows that better than Lori B. Andrews, an attorney specializing in genetic and reproductive technology. Her book The Clone Age is a personal look at the sweeping changes that have affected the way we think of making babies: in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogate motherhood, and, of course, the very real prospect of human cloning."
-- Amazon.com

 

Dream of a Perfect Child  

The Dream of the Perfect Child

by Joan Rothschild

"If we scratch below the surface of the desire for perfect children and the technologies that attempt to create them — as Joan Rothschild does in The Dream of the Perfect Child — we just might uncover a problematic quest for perfection rooted in Western philosophy and eugenic ideology."
- GeneWatch

 

Genetically Engineered Food

Fatal Harvest  

Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture

Edited by Andrew Kimbrell

"How and why has agriculture, an endeavor that for millennia involved intimate knowledge of and profound respect for nature and place, become so industrialized that it's wreaking havoc all around the world? And what can people do about it? ... Seminal thinkers ... make the distinction between agrarian and industrial agriculture, assess the treacherous divide between them, and chronicle the catastrophic unintended consequences of monoculture farming, genetically engineered seeds, and the massive use of toxic pesticides and fertilizers."
--Booklist



Engineering the Farm  

Engineering the Farm: The Social and Ethical Aspects of Agricultural Biotechnology

Edited by Mark Lappe and Britt Bailey

"The authors attempt to go beyond the narrow scientific questions that currently characterize the debate, suggesting that the broad issues of social power and our relationship with nature are integral to an understanding of the problem."
-- Book News, Inc.


Genetic Discrimination and Privacy

genetic secrets  

Genetic Secrets: Protecting Privacy and Confidentiality in the Genetic Era

Edited by Mark A. Rothstein

The dramatic explosion of information brought about by recent advances in genetic research brings welcome scientific knowledge. Yet this new knowledge also raises complex and troubling issues concerning privacy and confidentiality. This thought-provoking book is the first comprehensive exploration of these ethical, legal, and social issues.

Biological Warfare

Biological weapons  

Biological Weapons : Limiting the Threat

By Joshua Lederberg

The essays in this book, many of which were originally published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, examine the medical, scientific, and political dimensions of limiting the threat posed by biological weapons. The contributors consider the current threat posed by biological weapons, the history of attempts to control them, episodes in which biological agents have been used, Iraq's biological warfare program, and policies that the United States might pursue to reduce the threat.



Biohazard  

Biohazard: The Chilling True Story of the Largest Covert Biological Weapons Program in the World -- Told from Inside by the Man Who Ran It

By Ken Alibek

"Alibek, who defected to the United States, describes the routine danger of his work: 'A bioweapons lab leaves its mark on a person forever.' An unending stream of vaccinations has destroyed his sense of smell, afflicted him with allergies, made it impossible to eat certain kinds of food, and 'weakened my resistance to disease and probably shortened my life.' But it didn't take away his ability to tell an astonishing story."
-- Amazon.com

Other Works of Interest

global genome  

The Global Genome: Biotechnology, Politics, and Culture

by Eugene Thacker

"Eugene Thacker has written an indispensable overview of current trends and developments in the technosphere of the life sciences, changes that are having a tremendous, though often latent, impact on everyday life on a global scale. What separates Thacker's work from other similar attempts is his brilliant critical framing of the issues, as well as his unrelenting grounding of life science and its attendant technologies within the larger field of political economy. This volume is a powerful interdisciplinary work, in the most authentic sense of the term."
-Steven Kurtz, State University of New York at Buffalo, Member, Critical Art Ensemble

 

Making Genes  

Making Genes, Making Waves: A Social Activist in Science

by Jon Beckwith

"The actual practice of science is a human endeavor with the flaws and virtues of any human activity."
-- From Making Genes, Making Waves



Body Bazaar  

Body Bazaar: The Market for Human Tissue in the Biotechnology Age

by Lori Andrews

"The dream of harnessing biology's regenerative powers for curative, life-extending and even cosmetic purposes has begun to become a reality.... But, the authors warn, this new and promising era has a dark side. People's tissues, cells and genes are increasingly being perceived as natural resources to be harvested and transformed into value-added commodities. And the economy that has evolved around this burgeoning industry threatens to wreak ethical havoc."
--Scientific American

From Members of CRG

 

 

 The Autism Revolution
http://www.autismrevolution.org/  

by Martha Herbert

After years of treating patients and analyzing scientific data, prominent Harvard Medical School researcher and clinician Dr. Martha Herbert offers a revolutionary new view of autism. Autism is not hardwired into a child’s genes and destined to remain fixed forever, as parents are often told. Instead, Dr. Herbert approaches autism as a collection of challenges, many of which can be tackled in a deliberate and methodical way. Her recommendations aim to provide optimal nutrition, reduce toxic exposures, shore up the immune system, reduce stress, and open the door to learning and creativity—all by understanding and truly meeting your child’s needs.



Agricultural Biotechnology  

Agriculture, Biotechnology and the Environment

by Sheldon Krimsky and Roger Wrubel

$18.95 + $3 Postage

Sheldon Krimsky and Roger Wrubel explore the impact of genetic engineering on agriculture from scientific, social, ethical, and ecological perspectives. University of Illinois Press, 1996, 294 pages.

To order from CRG, please call (617) 868-0870.



Exploding Gene Myth  

Exploding the Gene Myth

by Ruth Hubbard and Elijah Wald

$17.50 + $3 Postage

Written by renowned biologist and CRG board member Ruth Hubbard with Elijah Wald, this book examines how genetic information is manipulated by scientists, physicians, employers, insurance companies, educators, and law enforcers. Beacon Press, 1999 edition, 200 pages.

To order from CRG, please call (617) 868-0870.



DNA on Trial  

DNA On Trial

edited by Paul R. Billings

(hardcover) $19.95 + $3 Postage

This volume, edited by CRG board member Paul R. Billings, was created following a symposium held at the 1991 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. It contains chapters on DNA typing, Descional Law and DNA Evidence, Statistical Issues, and Civil Liberties Impacts.

To order from CRG, please call (617) 868-0870.


 






 
 
GeneWatch: Current Issue
Volume 27, Number 1: Privacy in the Age of Genomics
 
A college student writes a paper about GMO labeling – and learns much more than she bargained for.
 
Newborn screening saves lives – but should governments be saving newborns' DNA without parental consent?
 
 
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