Bird's eye view of biotechnology is useful

BIOLOGICAL sciences have witnessed a continuous revolution since 1953, when James Watson and Francis Crick elucidated a double helical structure for the DNA molecule. To comprehend fully all the transformations the subject has undergone requires the reconstitution of a body of related information, which was formerly classified as genetics, biochemistry, cell biology, microbiology and immunology. These varied disciplines have been united by a group of techniques collectively referred to as molecular biology, which have allowed the unification of experimental biology in its language and concern. Biotechnology is the result of applying these techniques in real life.

Biotechnology derives its philosophy from eugenics (science of improving the population by controlled breeding for desirable inherited characteristics) and has been shaped by a Cartesian view of the living system. Naturally, no textbook of biotechnology can avoid such biases. The book is otherwise extremely readable, well-illustrated and provides a useful overview of this newly emerging field, while maintaining a balance between high and appropriate technologies.

However, there are some lacunae: The role of computers has not been dwelt upon and there is no subject index. Moreover, any such book should discuss the economic aspects of technology as well as the hazards and ethics involved. Ethics are particularly important when you're playing God.