Mehru is a wonderful person. She got me Invisible Frontiers: The Race to Synthesise a Human Gene as a birthday present. I haven't made my way through all of it yet, but consider a few lines from the preface for just a moment. Not just a preface by anyone, but by James D. Watson (I'm not adding a link here, you should be ashamed if you don't know who he is):
"Recombinant DNA-based experimentation was temporarily banned in law by Cambridge [following the race by three labs to make the first recombinant DNA molecules] and made difficult to do elsewhere in the world through governmental regulatory edicts... To most biologists' relief, sanity finally prevailed, and our legislators concerns turned real as opposed to hypothetical dangers. Recombinant DNA procedures became unshackled and allowed to underlie most of the major advances of biomedical research over the past 25 years. This technology so far has been the safest yet employed by human beings. No one has even sneezed, much less been made sick, as a result of recombinant DNA research anywhere in the world."
This isn't of course to say that scientific research isn't often insidious and horrible. Maybe then we begin to draw lines between what counts as mainstream, 'real' (dare I say Nobel-Prize winning?) science and "fringe" science. Either way, it was never right for scientists to advance at the cost of the environment or shamelessly uproot wildlife. But the paradox is this: governments gave scientists money, scientists found ways to make life better, and now they're having to pay for the government's shortsightedness in implementing those policies. Besides, who should be the more principled anyway?
While we're on the environment, how brilliant was Germany's Die Grunen? One of the first actually green parties. Now that's a kind of party I would like to join.
The environment also reminds me how beautiful Nathiagali was when we visited a week back. Who wouldn't like to preserve that?