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August 12, 1998

The GeneThe Biotech Century: Harnessing the Gene and Remaking the World

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Copyright 1998 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.1998American Medical Association

JAMA. 1998;280(6):575. doi:10.1001/jama.280.6.575-JBK0812-4-1

Jeremy Rifkin's biotechnology revolution has seven "strands." The first two are the underlying methods: recombinant DNA and computational technologies. The third is the change in patent policies, which provides "the commercial incentive to exploit the new resources." Fourth, using the methods and the patent policies permits, "the wholesale reseeding of the Earth's biosphere with . . . an artificially produced bioindustrial nature designed to replace nature's own evolutionary scheme" and, fifth, "the wholesale alteration of the human species and the birth of a commercially driven eugenics civilization." The remaining two strands provide the ideological justification for acceptance of the fourth and fifth: "studies on the genetic basis of human behavior and the new sociobiology that favors nature over nurture are providing a cultural context for the widespread acceptance of the new biotechnologies." Finally, according to Rifkin, "a new cosmological narrative" maintains that biotechnology's willful manipulations of species "are amplifications of nature's own principles and practices and, therefore, justifiable."

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