Forum Posts by
Gregory E. Kaebnick
- Fix the Planet, or Change the Creatures In It?
Posted on September 27, 2017
Possibly as many as half of the coral reefs that existed 100 years ago have been destroyed, sometimes by removing them, covering them up, or blowing them up, but mostly just because of climate change, which is gradually heating the water and making it more acidic. The solution everyone who cares about the reefs most… Read more
- Human Gene Editing Report: Moving Forward Incrementally
Posted on February 14, 2017
It’s the conversation that really interests me. The NASEM report is plop in the middle of a national and indeed a global inquiry into how genetic science can let us tweak the world—human beings, human nature more generally, other organisms, ecosystems, the biosphere at large. What are the terms of that inquiry?
- Challenging Evolution?
Posted on July 22, 2016
We have long had the ability, we humans, to work outside the bounds of evolution. Dairy cattle, maize, and all sorts of dog breeds attest to that. It is unlikely that natural evolution alone would have produced these things. They depended on human intervention. However, in the past, the scope of human intervention was rather… Read more
- Are Arguments about GMO Safety Really About Something Else?
Posted on August 28, 2015
The scientific consensus that food containing genetically modified organisms is safe seems ever stronger, yet the social controversy about GMOs seems only to grow as well. “Unhealthy Fixation,” a long article published this summer in Slate and reporting on what author Will Saletan says was close to a year’s worth of research, argues very strongly that GMOs are generally… Read more
- Altering Nature to Preserve It
Posted on February 6, 2015
Perhaps the biggest challenge in talking about something like de-extinction is simply being clear on what it is you’re really talking about. Emerging technologies can be surrounded with so much hoopla that one can lose sight of what the technologies actually accomplish. Somebody recently expressed exactly this caution to me about de-extinction: “That is not… Read more
- De-Extinction: Could Technology Save Nature?
Posted on February 7, 2014
This past November, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature declared the western black rhinoceros of Africa, last seen in 2006, officially extinct. It also concluded that most other rhino species are in danger, even “teetering.” Yet at the same time, over the past year, some scientists and others have been declaring that the… Read more
- Doctors Googling Patients
Posted on October 8, 2013
In the current issue of the Hastings Center Report, two teams of physicians and ethicists at Penn State consider the ethics of using online research and social networking tools to learn more about a patient who came to them with a request for a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy. The patient’s story doesn’t quite sound right to the… Read more
- The Hastings Center Looks Forward to the Obama Era
Posted on January 23, 2009
The Hastings Center staff gathered together in the Robert S. Morison Library on January 20 to watch together the auspicious inauguration of America’s first black president. With Americans—and people—everywhere, we affirm the significance of this event in our nation’s history. Ethics, which precludes discrimination on the basis of race, gender, and skin color, is the… Read more
- Taking Control of Biology
Posted on November 10, 2008
Most people have not even heard of synthetic biology, but a growing number think it represents a kind of epochal turning point in the life sciences. With synthetic biology, they say, biology is turning the same corner that chemistry rounded about one hundred years ago, when chemists began to go beyond merely studying chemicals to… Read more
- Beatie’s Story
Posted on April 16, 2008
Ten years ago, after deciding that she had been born into the wrong body, Tracy Beatie had her breasts removed and received masculinizing hormone treatment. She kept her original reproductive organs, though – apparently thinking all along that she might someday want to use them to have children. Now a man and named Thomas, Beatie… Read more
- Human Nature and the Nature of Sports
Posted on June 18, 2007
One thing no one denies about Oscar Pistorius is that he’s a world class sprinter with the heart of a champion. Pistorius is billed as “the fastest thing on no legs.” Because of birth anomalies, both of his legs were amputated just below the knee when he was eleven months old. Now 20 years old… Read more
- The Scientist Down on the Farm
Posted on February 5, 2007
Differing views about nature have a way of turning into pitched, winner-take-all battles in which each side wonders about the sanity of the other. The Food and Drug Administration’s proposed policy to allow the sale of food produced from cloned livestock is a recent case in point. Last fall, when the FDA first hinted at its… Read more