Liberated from Nature or Shackled by It? The Costs and Impacts of Excessive Precaution
In May 2013, Hollywood star Angelina Jolie announced that she was carrying the hereditary BRCA1 gene mutation and that, as a result, her lifetime risk of breast cancer was 87%. By undergoing a preventive double mastectomy, however, she would reduce her risk to under 5%. Although dramatic, Jolie’s story is but one example of the benefits of our ever greater understanding of genes and, increasingly, ability to tamper with them. Interestingly, however, while most people can see the benefits of such interventions in the realm of medical science, they are much more reluctant to make use of this knowledge when applied to agricultural science. They shouldn’t be.