Biotech is thrusting us into new political territory | abcdef |

Nobody is immune from the feeling that change is accelerating with each passing year. This sense of "future shock" is perhaps most closely associated with information technology. We've all experienced the anxiety, frustration and resentment that accompanies the introduction of a new version of software on which we depend, or the realisation that people younger than ourselves have adopted a new technology that makes their lifestyle seem very different from our own.

Worries about rapid change also bubble up in response to scientific progress, especially when it raises moral questions. We've seen this time and again with controversies over evolution, reproductive rights, the origin of the universe and nearly all issues in science that relate to human values.

Biology is an especially volatile source of sensitivities. The old biology was mainly observational, but the new biology, or biotechnology - including stem cells, embryo research, synthetic biology and reproductive technology - has unprecedented power to change basic life processes.

Via Szabolcs Kósa