The Genetic Age review: Is genetic engineering a costly distraction?

Matthew Cobb’s latest book is a disturbing history of genetic engineering, which asks whether it is worth the money – or the risk

Humans 24 August 2022

Genetic engineering, conceptual illustration. Robot hand editing a DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) molecule to alter and rearrange an organism's genetic material. DNA is composed of two strands twisted into a double helix. Each strand consists of an outer sugar-phosphate backbone with nucleotide bases attached. The sequence of these bases forms the genetic code, determining each cell's structure, function and behaviour. Inserting new DNA into a section of original DNA will alter the instructions from this region.

Gene editing, exemplified by CRISPR technology, has elicited both hopes and fears

ELLA MARU STUDIO/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

The Genetic Age

Matthew Cobb

Profile Books

FOR more than 50 years, biologists have been genetically engineering organisms in increasingly precise ways. From the early, crude methods of the 1960s and 1970s, to the modern “gene editing” exemplified by CRISPR technology, genetic engineering has elicited great hopes and terrifying fears.

In his disturbing and readable new book The Genetic Age: Our perilous quest to edit life, biologist and science historian Matthew Cobb tells the story of this field. …

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