New Scientist's Prejudicethoughts & comment — 27 Apr 2009
LAST MONTH (14 March edition) New Scientist published the article Second genesis by Bob Holmes which outlines the imminent development of synthetic life forms in the lab, estimated to be about 5 or 10 years away. Of course, the potential danger of creating completely alien life forms on this planet would far exceed that of genetically modified organisms. I was amused, therefore, to see although the author at first glance highlighted this concern by having a separate highlighted "Frankenstein's microbe?" box, he actually dismisses these dangers within that quarter-page boxed section and even quotes a Catholic theologian concerned about moral issues which further makes the dangers seem more religious than scientific. This is typical of the mainstream scientific media which, like any medium, has to reflect the views of its advertisers, in this case biotech and pharmaceutical companies, as well as universities (which have very close ties where the money is — biotech and big pharma).
I won't go into the dangers of introducing totally alien life-forms to our eco-system because they should be pretty obvious to anyone without a commercial interest in being ignorant of them.
The moral of this tale is that if you want an interesting scientific read, try New Scientist. But if you really want to understand the limits of science and its place in society, avoid this propaganda sheet at all costs for it is just the mouthpiece for Science Inc.
(Actually … that would make a good focus for an article … Science vs Science Inc. Might have to write it someday.)