Science in Society Archive

Living with the Fluid Genome

By Mae-Wan Ho

The biotech empire is fast collapsing because it has got the science wrong. Read this riveting inside-story of the fluid genome from a scientist who has been warning that genetic engineering is both dangerous and futile for over a decade.

This book is now out of print. Used copies are often available used and the book is still available electronically from the i-sis online store

Find out why the whole biotech enterprise, from GM crops and gene drugs to human cloning, is a phenomenal waste of public finance and scientific imagination, and, most importantly, what it means to be living with the fluid genome.

From the author of the international bestseller, Genetic Engineering Dream or Nightmare? Turning the Tide on the Brave New World of Bad Science and Big Business, 1998, 1999.

  • A personal account of one scientist's struggle against a corrupted scientific establishment bent on promoting genetic modification (GM).
  • A dossier of scientific evidence of the most serious GM hazards
  • An exposé of the degenerate research programme of mainstream biology
  • A death-blow to genetic determinism
  • A refreshing antidote to the Darwin industry

Honest * Hard-hitting * Humane

What people are saying about the book

"This enlightening book takes you through the theoretical and empirical evidence on why we must totally reject the creation of Frankenstein foods."
Edward Goldsmith, Founding Editor, The Ecologist

"Probably the most disturbing book of recent times, on a par with Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. Opens the lid on the intellectual corruption of Western science."
Noel Lynch, Green Member of the London Assembly, UK

"This book serves a need to describe the obvious to literate and astute masses! As educators, we need to critically analyse our failure to convey the fundamental biological insight of life as a continuum to our students."
Dr. R.H. Richardson, Professor of Integrative Biology, University of Texas, Austin, USA

"A trenchant, lucid and thrilling account of how a multi-billion industry has been built on fraudulent concepts."
Caroline Clarke, Concerned Citizens of Burnhams, UK

"An excellent scientific summary; explains in layperson's language the differences between GM and non-GM DNA, the problems of GM, and how GM has come from a flawed, narrow, reductionist concept of a static genetic structure. It brings to life the reality of the fluid genome as part of the dynamic, integrated whole."
Margaret Stronach, Friends of the Earth, Wokingham, UK

"Mae-Wan Ho is the tenacious champion of a heretical science that is fast-becoming the mainstream."
Dr. Finn Bowring, School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University, UK

"An exposé of the risks of genetic engineering and a warning to developing countries that new technologies are not necessarily beneficial, appropriate or needed."
Martin Khor, Director, Third World Network

The Author

Dr. Mae-Wan Ho, long-time critic of neo-Darwinism and pioneer of a 'physics of organisms', is one of the most influential and widely sought-after speakers in the new paradigm of organic science. As Director and co-founder of the Institute of Science in Society and scientific advisor to the Third World Network, she has had plenty of opportunity to put her science in action.

What this book is about

One of the most persistent dogmas in western science is genetic determinism, the belief that our genetic makeup, or our birth, ultimately determines who and what we are.

Genetic determinism was the guiding principle in the development of the modern science of genetics, which in turn gave rise to the eugenics movement that lasted at least until the mid 1970s in the United States and Europe. Not only were 'inferior races' persecuted, 'inferior' and 'disabled' individuals were also considered 'unfit' and targeted for elimination.

Eugenics is surfacing again as human 'genomic' science, spawned by the sequencing of the human and other genomes, is promising to identify all the 'bad' genes that cause diseases and disabilities, so they could be eliminated at conception or before birth, while the 'good' genes would be promulgated, and better yet, used for the 'genetic enhancement' of anyone who can pay for the privilege. This time round, eugenics will not be sanctioned by the state. It will be up to the 'global market' to decide. The poor will become a genetic 'underclass'. Social inequality will be redefined as, and transformed into genetic inequality.

Fortunately, science as knowledge of nature is never just subject to our arbitrary whim and prejudice. We can delude ourselves, but only for so long. Nature has a way of fighting back, of puncturing our illusions.

The story of the 'fluid genome' tells how geneticists came face to face with scientific findings that completely undercut the old genetic determinist paradigm. It makes nonsense of all the eugenicist claims and promises, and exposes the futility as well as the hazards of genetic engineering for the health of human beings and the entire life-supporting system that's our planet.

Read this book to find out what it means to be liberated from the genetic determinist myth and to be living with the fluid genome.

A few quotations from the book:

"This [neo-Darwinian] theory is very comforting for those who derive the most benefit from the status quo, and they are responsible for a huge 'Darwin industry' dedicated to 'explaining' why this is the best of all possible worlds, which is masquerading as mainstream science."

"An 'academic-industrial-military complex' has matured with the rise of gene biotechnology that's increasingly active in suppressing scientific dissent in the genetic engineering debate, threatening the survival of science and endangering lives."

"Genes and genomes are part and parcel of the entire physiological system that responds to the environment in myriad non-random, repeatable ways….It is ironic that Lamarckian principles should now be found to be operating at the molecular level."

"Doing science is rather like solving a murder mystery. You have to follow your hunches, which may often get you into blind alleys, you have to watch out for clues, interpret the evidence from experimental findings and connect them up into a coherent whole. And then, you have to present the case to your peers and the public, as though you are in a court of law."

"Genetic engineering greatly enhances horizontal gene transfer and recombination, the very processes that create new viruses and bacteria that cause outbreaks of infectious diseases and spread drug and antibiotic resistance."

"The responsiveness of genes and genomes to the environment makes clear that the only way to keep genes and genomes constant and healthy is to have a balanced ecology..… On the other hand, it is definitely futile to think that we can go on ruining our ecosystem and stay healthy so long as we have 'good' genes…Genes, unlike diamonds, are not forever."

"How molecules and cells can work together in the body is ultimately by intercommunication and reciprocity. In the ideal of quantum coherence, each gene and protein is as much in control as it is sensitive and responsive."

"What does quantum coherence look like in the body? Perfectly fluid, dynamic and scintillating, which is why the genome is fluid. Think of the diverse activities in the body as 'quantum jazz', where every single player, however small, is improvising freely from moment to moment, and yet keeping in beat and in sync with the whole. There is no composer or conductor, the music emerges spontaneously as it is played, in endless variations that never exactly repeat."

"The ideal organic whole, quintessentially pluralistic and diverse, works by total participation and intercommunication, and is at once most coherent and most free, for the parts as for the whole."


Publication date: 30 April 2003

Order an electronic (PDF) version of this book from the i-sis online store

Article first published 15/04/03

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