Frankenstein and the Miracle.
Perhaps more than any other issue, genetic engineering or recombinant DNA captures both the hopefulness and the unease that characterized feelings about science in the 1970s. It held out the hope of fantastic health benefits, promising to make drugs easy to synthesize and diseases treatable. Yet it also threatened the specter of Frankenstein: artificial life escaping from the lab and unleashing new diseases on the world. In 1974 scientists concerned about such a scenario called a halt to genetic engineering work. By the end of the decade environmental activists and much of the general public were deeply worried by these experiments, but most biologists were convinced they could control it. Entrepreneurial companies like Genentech, formed in 1976, were looking for ways to exploit the commercial potential of genetic engineering. The U.S. government, after first imposing strict guidelines on recombinant DNA...
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