Humans have always selected plants, animals, and micro-organisms in order to meet their needs in a more satisfactory way. Today, advanced biotechnology allows us to transfer genes between organisms that would not be able to crossbreed naturally. The great unpredictability of the effects of such actions is one of the crucial themes in the current debate over gene modification. The volume describes the mechanisms that regulate the fine balance which lies at the foundations of life and shows why we must be so careful when we modify this balance in such a drastic manner. Ignoring both naive enthusiasms and irrational fears, the author then discusses, with the aid of examples, the relationship between global markets, research, and biotechnological applications and identifies suitable methods for correctly assessing risks. He also sketches out a system of rules capable of guaranteeing a transparent, fair market, promoting a new phase of scientific research and safeguarding life and the natural environment.
Marcello Buiatti teaches Genetics at the University of Florence.