Cover image for Beyond evolution : the genetically altered future of plants, animals, the earth--humans
Beyond evolution : the genetically altered future of plants, animals, the earth--humans
Fox, Michael W., 1937-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, N.Y. : Lyons Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
256 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


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TP248.6 .F687 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The well-known veterinarian/bioethicist who spearheaded the US ethical treatment of animals movement discusses the biological, economic, and moral ramifications of what he calls "genetic imperialism." Includes a biotechnology glossary and resources for consumer monitoring. Annotation copyrighted by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

Author Notes

Michael W. Fox was born in Bolton, England, in 1937. He trained as a veterinarian at London's Royal Veterinary College, graduating in 1962, and later earned both a Ph.D. (1967) and a D.Sc. (1976) from the University of London. Fox came to the United States in 1962 as a fellow at Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine. He worked at the State Research Hospital in Galesburg, Illinois, and at Washington University in Missouri, before moving to Washington, D.C., in 1976 to become the director of the Institute for the Study of Animal Problems and, later, vice president of the Humane Society of the United States.

Fox has written several books about animals for both the professional and the pet owner, including Canine Behaviour, his first in 1965; Canine Pediatrics; Integrative Behavior of Brain and Behavior in the Dog; Behavior of Wolves; The Soul of the Wolf; Understanding Your Dog; Love is a Happy Cat.

Fox is also the author of Between Animal and Man: The Key to the Kingdom and One Earth, One Mind, as well as several books for children, two of which have won awards. The Wolf received the 1973 Christopher Award for Children's Literature and Ramu and Chennai received a National Teacher's Association best science book award in 1976. Fox also wrote a syndicated newspaper column called "Ask Your Vet," and has been a frequent guest on national radio and television programs.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The success of Scottish scientists in cloning a sheep has stirred widespread fears about genetic engineering: Will biologists be cloning made-to-order humans next? Fox seeks not to allay but to refocus these anxieties, directing our concern away from a hypothetical future toward a troubling current reality: a mammoth bioengineering industry already recklessly manipulating the genetic codes of numerous plant and animal species without regard for the ethical or ecological implications of their acts. Breaking ranks with scientists who view biotechnology with ebullient confidence, Fox poses the hard questions: What are the hidden dangers of transplanting genes from one species to another? What suffering do animals experience when subjected to genetic engineering--and can such suffering be justified? What happens to the natural dynamics of evolution when genetically altered species are released into the environment? Hardly a Luddite calling for an end to experimentation, Fox writes as a concerned scientist challenging his colleagues to rethink their theoretical and moral premises more carefully: the enormous possibilities of genetic engineering ought not blind its practitioners to the equally enormous dangers. Fox also writes as a citizen summoning the electorate to an overdue public debate over scientific practices that introduce potentially dangerous new foods into our diet and that threaten to disrupt the earth's ecological harmonies. Some readers will resist the call for more government regulation of bioengineering; others will dispute Fox's eight bioethical criteria for making scientific decisions. But few can doubt the profound urgency of the issues he raises. --Bryce Christensen

Publisher's Weekly Review

From bioethicist (Eating with Conscience) and animal-rights activist Fox comes an eloquent and scathing indictment of the biotechnology industry that could trigger a national debate. Whereas biotech's supporters welcome pigs bioengineered to produce human hemoglobin, transgenic plants that secrete their own insecticides and "supercrops" that presumably will feed the world's hungry, Fox views the creation of these transgenic animals and plants (made by inserting a gene from a dissimilar organism) as fundamentally unethical, as well as unnecessary. An advocate of traditional husbandry practices and sustainable organic farming, he argues that biotechnologyÄcoupled with industrial, chemical-based agricultureÄwill only accelerate the adverse environmental and consumer-health consequences of factory farming. He also contends that agribiotechnology is a nail in the coffin of Third World and indigenous peoples, as multinational companies use patents on genetically engineered organisms to gain monopolistic control of the world's markets for food and medicine, turning farmers into contract growers under the yoke of corporate feudalism. About 60% of the processed foods we now eatÄcorn, potatoes, salmon, soy, tomatoes, etc.Äcontain some genetically engineered ingredients. Blasting the FDA for its failure to implement labeling requirements, Fox warns that "genetic pollution" is inevitable as bioengineered crops, bacteria, fish and other organisms spread their anomalous transgenes into Earth's life-stream, with utterly unknown consequences for human health and a very real potential for cross-contamination of conventional crops. Pointing to the Clinton White House's ties with the agribiotechnology industry, Fox calls for widespread public involvement in the decision-making process of how this new technology is applied, and he sets forth bioethical criteria, including safety, environmental and animal welfare considerations. Fox's succinct book is the most cogent and persuasive to date on a global issue that, if he is right, has already reached nightmarish proportions. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

With arguments similar to those of activist Jeremy Rifkin, veterinarian and bioethicist Fox disclaims the value of current biotechnology applications and proceeds to enumerate the inherent dangers that can result from the molecular manipulation of the genomic fabric. By going beyond evolution in creating plants and animals with recombinant DNA to achieve desired and immediate outcomes based on human and market values, the long-range effects of these engineered organisms on the environment cannot be assessed. The time-tested process of natural selection would be bypassed and the resulting ramifications could lead to irreparable damage to the natural and necessary interactions among members of communities, cause destruction of ecosystems, and hasten the diminution of biodiversity. Citing the course of the leading agroindustries in developing genetically engineered crops, these new products are seen as misapplied technology because more problems than solutions toward increasing food productivity are anticipated. The bioethics of manufacturing transgenic plants and organisms is examined, as well as the market influx of food and medical products resulting from these chimera. Using recent examples of genetically engineered products, Fox argues that the introduction of human designed genomes poses an environmental risk. This one-sided, emotional plea to restrain biotechnology offers few pragmatic solutions. General readers; undergraduates; two-year technical program students. R. A. Hoots; Woodland Community College