Jeremy Rifkin: fears of a brave new world

Will wars be fought for the control of genes in the 21st century? Jeremy Rifkin fears the worst and explains why...

"Our futurists have too narrowly defined the twenty-first century as the information age. In fact, a far more profound shift is taking place in the global economy. Computers and genes are beginning to fuse into a single powerful technological and economic force that is laying the foundation for the biotech century. Computers are increasingly being used to decipher, manage and organize the vast genetic information that is the raw resource of the new global economy. Already multinational corporations are creating giant life-science complexes from which to fashion a bio-industrial world.

There are tremendous short-term benefits—new plants and animals, new pharmaceuticals and energy sources. But it is naive to believe that these benefits come with no costs. The environmental, social and ethical implications of this science are chilling. Will the creation of cloned, chimeric and transgenic species mean the end of nature? Will the mass release of genetically engineered organisms into our biosphere mean genetic pollution and irreversible damage to the biosphere in the twenty-first century? What are the risks of making a “perfect” baby?"

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