How inequality will shape the biotech revolution, and vice versa

Among the concerns ushered in by the approaching revolutions in genetics and biotechnology is the issue of what they will mean for the distribution of health and, indeed, genetic traits themselves.

On the former, some worry about development of a “health genomics gap” between the rich North and poor South and suggest that genomics should be included into the Millennium Development Goals set forth by the UN in 2000.

But it is the latter issue that raises sharper and more dire concerns. Francis Fukuyama’s Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution raised the spectre that a revolution in genetic engineering will undo the by and large natural, genetic equality upon which equal humans rights and liberty are (ostensibly) predicated. (Here’s a review of the book.) In the extreme, he fears, speciation among us will create uncomfortable issues for politics and ethics. Some opponents of restrictions on genetic engineering and Fukuyama debate the issues here.