Science and Technology Innovation Program
Book Launch: Intervention
New York Times columnist Denise Caruso's new book, Intervention: Confronting the Real Risks of Genetic Engineering and Life on a Biotech Planet (Hybrid Vigor Press, 2006, http://hybridvigor.org/intervention), was launched on 6 March 2007 at an event held by the Foresight and Governance Project at the Wilson Center. Caruso's book adds a sobering dimension to the global debate surrounding genetic engineering and biotechnology, by challenging the methods by which these risks are assessed, and offers a sensible new approach to science and policy risk assessment that supports innovation and progress while protecting the public.
At the event, Joel Garreau, a staff writer for The Washington Post, interviewed Caruso. Garreau told audience members that he loves the way the book "meshes with scenarios for the future," specifically in the way it pertains to coming technologies that are focused "inward" on modifying individual characteristics and progeny. He praised Caruso for focusing her book not on ethical issues of right and wrong, but on bringing people together to come up with innovative solutions to shortcomings in current risk assessment.
Part of Caruso's motivation for writing Intervention was her own concern over transgenic products. She spoke specifically about the use of transgenic pigs in xenotransplantation. Part of her book details a study she conducted where experts in a number of different fields were asked to discuss possible risks associated with using the organs of transgenic pigs in humans. The experts brought up a broad range of interesting and important issues, from how to raise the pigs to how to dispose of them to how to monitor transplants and human patients. She argued that deliberations like these are needed in risk assessment because federal agencies are understaffed and overwhelmed by the rapid commercialization of new and novel technologies.
Caruso continually stressed the need to get more people to the table to discuss evolving issues with the risk assessment of new technologies. Baruch Fischoff, Ph.D., the head of the Center for Integrated Study of Human Dimensions of Global Change and a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, who participated in the event via conference call, commended Caruso for advocating a return of risk assessment to its roots and the involvement of experts—in often unrepresented but critical sciences—who are capable of giving a better appraisal of the risks and benefits of new technologies.
A short reception followed the event.
About the book
"[P]erhaps the most balanced and readable look yet at assessing the risks of genetic engineering." -- Michael Rogers, "The Practical Futurist," MSNBC.com
Are we are driving the products of biotechnology into the market so quickly that we've become blind to their real risks? Yes, according to a timely new book by New York Times columnist Denise Caruso entitled, Intervention: Confronting the Real Risks of Genetic Engineering and Life on a Biotech Planet (Hybrid Vigor Press, 2006 - http://hybridvigor.org/intervention).
Intervention adds a sobering dimension to the global debate surrounding genetic engineering and biotechnology, by challenging the methods by which these risks are assessed. Drawing on a large body of peer-reviewed research and examples, Caruso, a veteran technology analyst, paints a vivid picture of the alarming state of regulation in the world of genetic engineering and biotechnology, unwrapping layers of power, money, and politics along the way.
Ultimately, Intervention offers a sensible new approach to the science and policy of risk assessment that supports innovation and progress while protecting the public.
"[A] powerful and essential new book...Denise makes it clear how 'spectacularly nearsighted we tend to be when evaluating radical new advances ... Fortunately, we have people like Denise Caruso to improve our vision." -- Stephen Berlin Johnson, author of the bestsellers, The Ghost Map and Everything Bad is Good For You