Saturday, October 7, 2023

Asher D. Cutter's "Evolving Tomorrow"

Asher D. Cutter is a Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto, Canada. A former Fulbright Scholar, Cutter trained at Tufts University, USA, James Cook University, Australia, the University of Arizona, USA, and the University of Edinburgh, UK. He authored the textbook A Primer of Molecular Population Genetics (2019) as well as nearly 100 scientific articles on the topics of genome evolution, population genetics, speciation, and the biology of Caenorhabditis nematode roundworms.

Cutter applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Evolving Tomorrow: Genetic Engineering and the Evolutionary Future of the Anthropocene, and reported the following:
Page 99 is the last page in a chapter titled “Genetic welding”, and does a good job of touching on some of the key themes explored in my book Evolving Tomorrow as a whole. This page points out how a cutting-edge version of genetic engineering presents a new and distinct force of evolution that has the potential to shape the DNA of entire species in the wild. It includes a quote by writer Elizabeth Kolbert that states, “In a world of synthetic gene drives, the border between the human and the natural, between the laboratory and the wild, already deeply blurred, all but dissolves.” Page 99 also lays out a brief roadmap for how later parts of the book will explore some of the complications that this provocative idea presents, for example, in relation to ethics and ecosystem alterations and if we were to alter the genomes of our own human species. One aspect of this page that is not representative of the book overall is that much of the rest of the book presents stories of interesting biology of organisms and the natural world, or about laboratory research, or about bioethical quandaries. As the final page of a chapter, page 99 does not provide this sense of compelling storytelling that I hope is found throughout many of the other pages in the book. Nonetheless, I think it is fair to say that Evolving Tomorrow passes the Page 99 Test.
Learn more about Evolving Tomorrow at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue