Thursday, April 18, 2013

Emily Anthes's "Frankenstein’s Cat"

Emily Anthes is a science journalist and author. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Wired, Scientific American, Psychology Today, BBC Future, SEED, Discover, Popular Science, Slate, The Boston Globe, and elsewhere. Her new book, Frankenstein’s Cat: Cuddling Up to Biotech’s Brave New Beasts, was published in March 2013 by Scientific American/Farrar, Straus and Giroux. She is also the author of the Instant Egghead Guide: The Mind.

Anthes applied the “Page 99 Test” to Frankenstein’s Cat and reported the following:
Frankenstein’s Cat is an exploration of how biotechnology is shaping the future of animals, and it covers everything from genetic engineering to animal prostheses, from cloning to remote-controlled, cyborg critters. Page 99 of Frankenstein’s Cat comes toward the end of a chapter about scientists who are trying to use cloning to save endangered species—and even revive extinct ones. (Could there be cloned mammoths and dodos in our future?) It’s a sexy idea—the notion that we can use biotechnology to protect threatened wildlife—but it’s also a hugely controversial one, even among conservation biologists. Page 99 introduces some of their criticisms: “To many biologists, cloning is all sizzle and no substance, a high-tech spectacle that fails to address habitat loss, poaching, pollution, and the other human activities that put wildlife at risk in the first place.”

This debate over whether cloning has a role to play in conservation illustrates a theme that arises repeatedly in Frankenstein’s Cat: Even among those who love animals, there can be—and often is—legitimate disagreement about how best to safeguard their welfare and wellbeing. Biotechnology is giving us profound new power over animal lives and bodies. How should we be deploying these high-tech tools? In short: What does it really mean to be good stewards of this planet and the creatures with whom we share it?
Learn more about the book and author at Emily Anthes's website.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Emily Anthes & Milo.

--Marshal Zeringue