The Challenge of Biotechnology and Public Policy

3. Genomics

Genomics goes well beyond human genetics in that it concerns all living organisms. …Ultimately, transgenic “pharming” will not only produce plants and animals that carry vaccines and that have therapeutic properties but also the development of tissues or even organs transferable to humans (xenotransplants).

Genomics goes well beyond human genetics in that it concerns all living organisms. New life sciences companies manipulate “life” for therapeutical and environmental properties. They span basic research to the clinical and industrial applications of DNA-based technologies, to the culture and reproduction of plants and animals and include the study of pharmaceutical properties. Such “biotic” possibilities place all of living organisms into research and permit the study of homologies and differences between the species. Ultimately, transgenic “pharming” will not only produce plants and animals that carry vaccines and that have therapeutic properties but also the development of tissues or even organs transferable to humans (xenotransplants). These life science industries promise “biotic” possibilities of increased productivity, of resistance to adverse events, and the development of nutraceuticals. Concerns for the preservation of species integrity and biodiversity have placed these life sciences at the forefront of public debate. Classical approaches to the safeguarding of ecosystems may no longer be sufficient. As we co-evolve and co-adapt with the plant and animal species, the natural environment itself presents new viruses for which we have no treatment (e.g., BSE in animals; the new variant of Creutzfeld-Jakob in humans). Together then genetics and genomics will transform life in its pure biological form and in its lived human forms. Are humans then just another form of living matter in this new biotic universe?

Are humans then just another form of living matter in this new biotic universe?

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