Virus-free mosquitoes, resurrected dinosaurs, designer humans. Such is the power of the science of tomorrow. But this idea that we have only recently begun to manipulate the natural world is false. We've been meddling with nature since the last ice age. It's just that we're getting better at it – a lot better.
Drawing on decades of research, Beth Shapiro reveals the surprisingly long history of human intervention in evolution through hunting, domesticating, polluting, hybridizing, conserving and genetically modifying life on Earth. Looking ahead to the future, she casts aside the scaremonger myths on the dangers of interference, and outlines the true risks and incredible opportunities that new biotechnologies will offer us in the years ahead. Not only do they offer us the chance to improve our own lives, but they increase the likelihood that we will continue to live in a rich and biologically diverse world.
Beth Shapiro is a Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UC Santa Cruz. She has appeared on the BBC, National Geographic and Discovery, and written for the Financial Times and Observer. She is the author of the award-winning How to Clone a Mammoth.