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  •                                  NETFUTURE
                        Technology and Human Responsibility
    Issue #108     A Publication of The Nature Institute          July 6, 2000
              Editor:  Stephen L. Talbott (stevet@netfuture.org)
                      On the Web: http://www.netfuture.org/
         You may redistribute this newsletter for noncommercial purposes.
    NetFuture is a reader-supported publication.
    Editor's Note
    Golden Genes and World Hunger (Craig Holdrege and Stephen L. Talbott)
       Let them eat transgenic rice?
       Re-thinking the World as Information (Michael Curry)
    Announcements and Resources
       Techno-Eugenics Newsletter
    About this newsletter
                                  EDITOR'S NOTE
    The effort to rehabilitate the public reputation of genetic engineering is
    well under way.  The idea is to focus on applications that seem
    unassailably beneficial for mankind.  Weird (fish genes in strawberry
    plants) is out; overcoming nutritional deficiencies, increasing world food
    output (for example, with engineered salmon that grow five times as fast
    as normal), and "pharming" for precious drugs are all in.
    If this spin-control effort succeeds in soothing the public's fears about
    genetic engineering, it will only be because the public has lost sight of
    the issues that were the core of concern from the very start.  As part of
    an effort to place these issues in a clear light, Craig Holdrege and I
    take a look here at the new, genetically engineered "golden rice".
    I mentioned in the last issue some difficulties that were making it nearly
    impossible for me to keep up with email.  You can now add to those a case
    of pneumonia and, on a more ongoing basis, the sudden, unexpected
    responsibility, devolving upon my wife and me, for the care of an elderly
    woman requiring round-the-clock attention.  NetFuture's schedule will
    therefore remain extremely uncertain this summer, and I will be making
    almost no effort to deal with email.  For important business, please feel
    free to contact me at 518-672-0116 or send a fax to 518-672-4270.
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                                  Craig Holdrege
                                 Stephen L. Talbott
    One of the casualties of technology-dominated life has been the tradition
    of conversation around the dinner table.  Whatever words we do exchange at
    mealtime are more likely aimed at the minimal coordination of our
    centrifugally driven lives than at sustaining the richly patterned
    textures of meaning conversation can evoke.
    But our abandonment of conversation extends far beyond the dinner table.
    Our broader social relations, and also our dialogue with the natural
    world, have contracted toward mere informational exchange, leaving us