Class differences and the issue of biotechnology

Food Processing Brief introduction about Biotechnology:

Class differences and the issue of biotechnology

How will genetic science and technology change the world? It used to be that scientists practiced their craft in universities or in big drug companies and didn't talk to each other too much.

When the technology of recombinant DNA came along in the early '70s, it occurred to a few very bright people that biology suddenly wasn't just a descriptive science any more; it had the Class differences and the issue of biotechnology to make products, and make products very quickly.

Nowadays you get that kind of action on Wall Street with chicken companies, but in those days that was an unusual Wall Street event, and it got the attention of a lot of people who knew nothing about biology let alone biotechnology to pay attention.

Biotechnology started to become synonymous over the years with very high risk and high reward. I have heard from friends who work on Wall Street that the biotechnology companies that are doing the best right now are not companies that have products which are an extraordinary minority anyway ; they are companies that have stories.

They come in and tell investment bankers the story: Those stocks are doing better than the companies that have products, because if you have products you can test them and find out whether they work in a finite period.

But biotechnology is an interesting thing: It's changed the landscape of how biology functions in universities and in the relationship between pharmaceutical industries. So I think we want to start out by asking, What is biotechnology capable of achieving?

Is biotechnology going to do anything different for us, with all its investments and capital coming in, from what would have happened if there weren't this industry?

I certainly think that biotechnology has the potential for this. What we've been doing in the past a lot of the time is descriptive biology. It's using the genetic variations that exist around us. But in the future--already--we can create our own genetic variations.

In the field that our institute is in, we're introducing human genes into cattle and sheep to produce therapeutic proteins in their milk.

The creation of material by genetic engineering wouldn't happen without biotechnology, without the revolution in understanding molecular biology and the structure of DNA.

Class differences and the issue of biotechnology

So I think that the potential is there for something quite different than we have had in the past. Barry, from where you sit, is biotechnology changing the world?

Not yet, but I think the word that you will hear an awful lot here is potential. Biotechnology is the application of science to dreams--and not everybody in the past in science has dreamt either very deeply or far, or in a practical way.

Robert Oppenheimerone of the people who made the first atom bomb, said that the deep and profound truths in science were arrived at not because they were important, but because it was possible to find them.

I think the potential to harness the imagination and reduce it to products is a marriage that has been very inefficient. One group of people look for knowledge; another group of people in companies look for products. It was a very slow process, trying to link the two.

This happens on an hourly basis in biotechnology. I appreciate that Barry Bloom has referred to a great, now dead physicist for a reference on biotechnology, and I'd like to do the same. A colleague of mine, now recently dead, Robert Serber, was No.

This laboratory is a marker of America's late-stage potential loss of leadership in high-energy physics, as its big cyclotron looks never to be built, but when Serber was building Brookhaven in the '50s, he says in his autobiographyhe noticed that the time it took to get out to Brookhaven was constant even as the technology of getting there kept changing for the better.

When he began, he had to drive out on back roads. Then the Long Island Expressway opened, and then the Long Island Railroad changed its stations, but getting to Brookhaven always took an hour and a half over a year period.

Class differences and the issue of biotechnology

I want to use that story as an excuse not to answer Bob Bazell's question. That is, I don't think we know--and I don't think it's wise to speculate linearly from what we know--what the technology will look like in 20 or 30 years.

I'd rather answer the question to say what it will feel like to be inside of whatever technology is likely to come, rather than speculate on how many new products there will be or what they will look like.The strength of Science and its online journal sites rests with the strengths of its community of authors, who provide cutting-edge research, incisive scientific commentary, and insights on what.

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Issues in Biotechnology Course Students taking this biotechnology class examine common ethical, legal and political issues in the field, as well as current developments.

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