Craig Venter’s Island of Dr. Moreau

From the Loom:

Craig Venter said this in passing, almost under his breath, as he spoke Wednesday night about the future of biology at the Oxonian Society in New York. It was a perfect Venterism. Venter, of course, is the scientist who declared he would lead a project to sequence the human genome faster, better, and much cheaper than the official government effort. He’s the guy who then had the audacity last year to publish the most accurate genome sequence to date–his own. He’s the guy who sailed around the world and trawled six million new genes, which he hopes to use to engineer a microbe that will overthrow the petroleum industry and save us from what he considers the biggest threat to civilization: global warming. He’s the one trying to synthesize a genome from scratch–what some might called creating life. That guy.

Actually, Venter doesn’t much like science fiction. When people asked about the ethics of cloning, he complained that people bring science fiction plots to the problem, imaginging things like armies of killer clones, destroying everything that came across their zombie-like march. He pointed out that the clones would be no more similar to one another than twins. In fact, he said, the problem isn’t that scientists are too wild in their ambitions. The problem is that they’re boring.

Amen. Though it’s hard to trust someone who doesn’t like Science Fiction!


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