Shapiro shows that the molecular tools of biotechnology are just the latest in a long line of innovations stretching back to the extra food and warm fires that first brought wolves into the human fold, turning them into devoted dogs. Perhaps more importantly, Shapiro offers a new understanding of the evolution of our species and those that surround us.
... thoughtful and entertaining ... while there is some equivalence between, on the one hand, the indirect manipulation of genomes through breeding and environmental degradation and, on the other, the biotechnological modification of genomes, genome engineering carries far greater repercussions; the case for its widespread implementation should be treated as a separate dilemma. Our enthusiasm and optimism for the new age of genomic engineering that is already upon us should be accompanied by an appropriate degree of caution and humility. We know precious little about most organisms and their ecosystems. To meddle with their structures is to play with technologies that may eventually facilitate the rewriting of human nature.
The scientific study of ancient DNA preserved in extinct species and the possibility of de-extinction (employing biotech to bring back extinct species in the manner of Jurassic Park) make for truly fascinating reading. Employing just the right amount of paleontology, history, genomics, and archaeology, Shapiro warns that we stand on the precipice of fashioning a new, unnatural nature. The risk of messing up the future of other species and even the planet itself looms large.