Cover image for Redesigning humans : our inevitable genetic future
Redesigning humans : our inevitable genetic future
Stock, Gregory.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 2002.
Physical Description:
277 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


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Material Type
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Item Holds
QH438.7 .S764 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
QH438.7 .S764 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Forget worries about cloning people. In the future, technological advances will bring far more meaningful and controversial changes to our offspring, says Gregory Stock. As scientists rapidly improve their ability to identify and manipulate genes, people will want to protect their future children from diseases, help them live longer, and even influence their looks and their abilities. Stock, an expert on the implications of recent advances in reproductive biology, clearly shows that neither governments nor religious groups will be able to stop the coming trend of choosing an embryo's genes.

Author Notes

Gregory Stock is director of the Program on Medicine, Technology, and Society at the School of Medicine of the University of California at Los Angeles.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Rather than worry about the ethics of human cloning, Stock (Metaman; The Book of Questions), director of the UCLA School of Medicine's Program of Medicine, Technology and Society, believes we should focus our attention on the idea that we'll soon be able to genetically manipulate embryos to develop desired traits a more immediate and enticing possibility for most parents than cloning. He gives a lucid overview of the new biotechnology that will allow scientists to delay aging and to insert genes that enhance physical and cognitive performance, combat disease or improve looks into embryos. Stock thoughtfully weighs the ethical dilemmas such advances present, arguing that the real threat is not frivolous abuse of technology but the fact that we don't know the long-term effects of these genetic changes. In any case, Stock insists, there's no turning back, and government bans "will determine not whether the technologies will be available, but where, who profits from them, who shapes their development, and which parents have early access to them." Stock demonstrates that much of the current criticism of human genetic engineering sounds remarkably similar to what was being said about in vitro fertilization when it first appeared. He believes that we will come to accept laboratory conception of all offspring and the addition of artificial chromosomes stocked with designer genes as readily as we have come to accept in vitro fertilization. Along the way we are sure to have many ethical issues to confront, issues that Stock does an impressive job of outlining. (Apr. 25) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



1 The Last HumanGod and Nature first made us what we are, and then out of our own created genius we make ourselves what we want to be... Let the sky and God be our limit and Eternity our measurement. -Marcus Garvey (1887-1940)We know that Homo sapiens is not the final word in primate evolution, but few have yet grasped that we are on the cusp of profound biological change, poised to transcend our current form and character on a journey to destinations of new imagination. At first glance, the very notion that we might become more than "human" seems preposterous. After all, we are still biologically identical in virtually every respect to our cave-dwelling ancestors. But this lack of change is deceptive. Never before have we had the power to manipulate human genetics to alter our biology in meaningful, predictable ways. Bioethicists and scientists alike worry about the consequences of coming genetic technologies, but few have thought through the larger implications of the wave of new developments arriving in reproductive biology. Today in vitro fertilization is responsible for fewer than 1 percent of births in the United States; embryo selection numbers only in the hundreds of cases; cloning and human genetic modification still lie ahead. But give these emerging technologies a decade and they will be the cutting edge of human biological change. These developments will write a new page in the history of life, allowing us to seize control of our evolutionary future. Our coming ability to choose our childrens genes will have immense social impact and raise difficult ethical dilemmas. Biological enhancement will lead us into unexplored realms, eventually challenging our basic ideas about what it means to be human. Some imagine we will see the perils, come to our senses, and turn away from such possibilities. But when we imagine Prometheus stealing fire from the gods, we are not incredulous or shocked by his act. It is too characteristically human. To forgo the powerful technologies that genomics and molecular biology are bringing would be as out of character for humanity as it would be to use them without concern for the dangers they pose. We will do neither. The question is no longer whether we will manipulate embryos, but when, where, and how. We have already felt the impact of previous advances in reproductive technology. Without the broad access to birth control that we take so for granted, the populations of Italy, Japan, and Germany would not be shrinking; birth rates in the developing world would not be falling. These are major shifts, yet unlike the public response to todays high-tech developments, no impassioned voices protest birth control as an immense and dangerous experiment with our genetic future. Those opposing family planning seem more worried about the immorality of recreational sex than about human evolution. In this book, we will examine the emerging reproductive technologies for selecting and alterin Excerpted from Redesigning Humans: Our Inevitable Genetic Future by Gregory Stock All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

1. The Last Humanp. 1
2. Our Commitment to Our Fleshp. 19
3. Setting the Stagep. 35
4. Superbiologyp. 62
5. Catching the Wavep. 78
6. Targets of Designp. 97
7. Ethics and Ideologyp. 124
8. The Battle for the Futurep. 153
9. The Enhanced and the Unenhancedp. 176
Appendix 1 Regulatory Paths in the Era of Germinal Choicep. 205
Appendix 2 Challenges to Comep. 210
Acknowledgmentsp. 213
Notesp. 215
Bibliographyp. 245
Indexp. 260