8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
R. Heinberg present in 8 essays the basis of recombinant DNA technology and its implications in science, politics and environment. Personally, the core of the book is presented in three chapters (3, 4 and 7). Anyone who needs to clarify concepts about genetic modification using DNA recombinant technology and the ethical issues around it should put attention to chapters. Chapter three describe the differences among "traditional biotechnology" and biotechnology including DNA recombinant. Concepts of gene splicing and cloning are also included. The chapter also presents journalistic information about unexpected results that underline the possible risks of genetic modification in that are organisms poorly understood. One of the drawbacks of the chapter three is its lack of specific references to scientific journals and documents that can be referred for further reading. In addition, the reader should be aware of the controversial profile of some of the quoted references. The chapter four (Patents and Profits) includes examples that allow the reader to decide for the benefits and implications in the patenting of DNA sequences and how the adopting this regulations can result in the limitation of research and exchange of genetic material for research purposes. Unfortunately, one of the most controversial issues involving gene patenting regarding the appropriation of genetic resources from countries that lack these legal instruments is not discussed. The chapter finishes with technical issues involving transgenic crops losing their focus in the patenting topic. However, the information presented informs the reader about the agencies and companies involved and how the regulatory mechanisms affect the user of the technology. It is difficult write a document with information that question the technology and at the same time maintain the fairness that allow the reader decide without being inclined to follow the writer position. The chapter six, seven and eight allow the reader to analyze in overall the technology and form own aptitude. Cloning the Buddha is an informative book for the common layperson who needs to clarify their view about this controversial topic.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Midwest Book Review
- Published on Amazon.com
Written by Richard Heinberg (journalist, essayist, lecturer, and publisher of "MuseLetter"), Cloning The Buddha: The Moral Impact Of Biotechnology is a serious and thoughtful ethical study of the divisive issues arising from modern biotechnology. Starting with the successful cloning of the sheep Dolly in 1997 and stretching through a wide spectrum of possibilities, such as cloning organs for surgery or ending infertility, Heinberg showcases all of the major issues that are involved in today's national policy debates. However, Cloning The Buddha also asks if the seemingly "beyond natural" powers of science are putting our lives and souls at risk. Drawing upon the latest plant and animal research, as well as featuring interviews with religious leaders and a thorough moral analysis, Cloning The Buddha makes for compelling reading for modern times fraught with both discovery and peril -- and is strongly recommended reading for students and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in ethics, morality, science, and biotechnology.
4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Frankly I was disappointed by this book. The jacket and back cover promised an analysis of the moral issues of biotechnology from several different viewpoints. Instead, the book takes an almost exclusively anti-biotech, anti-corporate stance. I have no objection to this but would have liked to have a better representation of the book prior to purchasing it.
Heinberg does bring up several good issues on biotech patents, genetically engineered seeds that "expire", and related issues.
However, on the most hard-core scientific issues, he displays a certain lack of detailed understanding. For example, he talks about the issue of genes inserted in one engineered plant spreading to other nearby plants. However, he fails to point out that this happens almost exclusively between closely related plants - not just any two crops or weeds that happen to be physically near each other.
Similarly, Heinberg says that DNA taken from one species and inserted into another may express a different protein in the second species than it does in the first. This is true, but he far overstates his case. Alternative splicing produces small variations on an a protein, not radically different ones.
Heinberg also fails to tell the reader that one of the first things humans do in digesting food is to denature the proteins, breaking them down into their component parts.
Finally, Heinberg also fails to mention that the FDA already has testing systems in place that check to make sure that no proteins that humans are commonly allergic to (certain peanut proteins, for example) find their way into other foodstuffs.
All in all, while the book has a few thought provoking parts, it's extremely selective in only presenting evidence and arguments *against* biotech, while trying to maintain a thin veneer of objectivity. I find that kind of writing to be more aggravating than illuminating, because on the few points he makes that do resonate with me, I find myself wondering what counterpoints he's not presenting.