The Gene by Ted Everson

book jacket with dha strand backgroundThe Gene: A Historical Perspective by Ted Everson (a Greenwood Guide to Great Ideas in Science series), 2007

What an excellent book! Probably a good series; I will have to pick up some of the others at the library. I was planning on just skipping to some of the contemporary issues, like how GMO has changed food (for the worse in my opinion although I have read that some changes really are beneficial, i.e. not all are equal. However, it seems to me (being from farm country) that if you have to buy seed from specific sources for the profit of investors, and said seeds are not going to reproduce, thus forcing the farmers to buy new seed each year, that is morally, ethically, and uniquely modern wrong. The lawsuits about privatized seeds crossing into another’s farm and suing that farmer for unfair use or some such crap is appalling. Indeed many aspects of our actual lives have or may become privatized and then it will be a true dystopia, like “The Water Knife” describes (water have and have not), or news reports of Nestle chairman saying water isn’t a right, and proprietary food will be next. There aren’t enough antique seeds left in the world to sustain non-proprietary food seeds. Similarly I am concerned that there will be patents on gene splicing that could cure multiple sclerosis (imagine what that or cancer cures would bring in for revenue! 🙁 from research funded by the government of course).

Anyway, the book covers some of this, and ethical issues like pre-existing condition clauses in insurance (but as long as Obamacare holds, that is less a concern than it was in 2007.

The really interesting part was the first chapter actually! The history. I assumed there wouldn’t be much since genes were not discovered until modern times, but it turns out Aristotle and some others had a clue! Fascinating to see how such ancient people could figure out so much only to have it squelched by religions. Pity as a species we have seemed to killed off all the best in senseless wars and even noble wars, because clearly there are no longer people like Aristotle possible.

Good read, well written.

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