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Bill McKibben in Conversation

April 30th, 2003

"Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age"

Human cloning? Designer babies? A new eugenics?

Join the Center for Genetics and Society for an evening with Bill McKibben, renowned author of the new book Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age, along with Anuradha Mittal, Marc Lappe, and Marcy Darnovsky. The conversation will explore the human genetic technologies that could soon give scientists the ability to re-engineer our children and undermine our common humanity.

Find out what we can do to stay human in an engineered age.

Date: Wednesday, April 30, 2003 - 7:30 PM
Location: The Green Room of the Veterans Building, second floor
San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center
401 Van Ness Avenue (at McAllister)
San Francisco, California

BART: Civic Center Station
Civic Center Garage - 355 McAllister (under Civic Center)
Performing Arts Garage - 360 Grove (at Franklin)
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Bill McKibben, author of Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age
Anuradha Mittal, Co-Director, FoodFirst / Institute for Food and Development Policy
Marc Lappé, Executive Director, Center for Ethics and Toxics
Marcy Darnovsky, Associate Executive Director, Center for Genetics and Society

To receive regular updates on important developments concerning the new human genetic technologies, you can subscribe to Genetic Crossroads, the monthly electronic newsletter of the Center for Genetics and Society.

More About Enough

Editorial Reviews and Quotes

Brief Excerpt

Speaker Biographies

Printable Flyer - Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader, available for free download.

Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age
by Bill McKibben

From the best-selling author of The End of Nature comes a passionate plea to limit the technologies that could change the very definition of who we are. We are on the verge of crossing the line from born to made, from created to built. Sometime in the next few years, a scientist will reprogram a human egg or sperm cell, spawning a genetic change that could be passed down into eternity. We are sleepwalking toward the future, argues Bill McKibben, and it's time to open our eyes.

In The End of Nature, nearly fifteen years ago, McKibben demonstrated that humanity had begun to irrevocably alter-and endanger-our environment on a global scale. Now he turns his eye to an array of technologies that could change our relationship not with the rest of nature but with ourselves. He explores the frontiers of genetic engineering, robotics, and nanotechnology-all of which we are approaching with astonishing speed-and shows that each threatens to take us past a point of no return.

We now stand at a critical threshold, poised between the human past and a post-human future. Ultimately, McKibben offers a celebration of what it means to be human, and a warning that we risk the loss of all meaning if we step across the threshold. His wise and eloquent book argues that we cannot forever grow in reach and power-that we must at last learn how to say, "Enough."

Enough will be available in your local bookstore by the first week of April, or can be ordered now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Powells.

Editorial reviews and quotes

"Readers will come away from his latest brilliantly provocative work shaking their heads at the possible future he portrays, yet understanding that becoming a pain-free, all-but-immortal, genetically enhanced semi-robot may be deeply unsatisfactory compared to being an ordinary man or woman who has faced his or her fear of death to relish what is. This is a brilliant book that deserves a wide readership." -Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"We may well look back a the publication of Enough as a threshold event. In this impeccably fair argument of the most complex technologies ever created by humankind, the consequences of large-scale tinkering with life are brilliantly laid out. It is not an exaggeration to compare human germline engineering to nuclear technology. While the horror of atomic weapons is the destruction of human civilization, the shadow cast by engineering Homo sapiens is the obliteration of what it means to be a human. Bill McKibben has flooded the debate with a new light that shows that the old arguments, pro or con, did not touch the essence of the crisis we face." -Paul Hawken, author of The Ecology of Commerce

"Your book, I think, will be recognized as indispensable. It makes an informed, careful, always intelligent response to the now inescapable question: Are we willing to submit our freedom and our dearest meanings to a technological determinism imposed by the alignment of science, technology, industry, and half-conscious politics? Your answer is sensible and difficult: We can, if we will, say no. The difficulty is in the next question: Is it possible for us to refuse to do something that we can do? This is not a happy book, but it is, in its courage and its affirmation of what we have to lose, a book that is hopeful and hope-giving." -Wendell Berry, from a letter to the author.

More quotes about Enough at Henry Holt and Co. Brief excerpts from the book are also available. 

Speaker Biographies

Bill McKibben: Born in Palo Alto, California, McKibben graduated from Harvard University, and immediately was hired as an editor at The New Yorker magazine. At age twenty-six, dissatisfied with the frantic pace of urban life and work, he quit his job and moved with his wife to an isolated house in the Adirondack Mountains, in New York State. There, his concern over the growing threat to the earth's ecosystem posed by chemical pollution led him to the research and reflections described in his book The End of Nature.

McKibben's first book, The End of Nature is a groundbreaking account of global environmental problems. It has been translated into 16 languages. Another of his books, The Age of Missing Information, examines mass media and environmental deterioration. He also has written Hope, Human and Wild, which is an account of places around the world where "people live more lightly on the planet." Other books include Hundred Dollar Holiday, Maybe One, and Long Distance: A Year of Living Strenuously. His work also has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, Natural History, Outside, Rolling Stone, Esquire, and Audubon.

McKibben lives with his wife, Sue Halpern, and their daughter Sophie in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York, where he is lay leader of a small Methodist church.

MittalAnuradha Mittal, a native of India, is the Co-Director of Food First. Prior to her employment as the Co-Director, she was the Institute's Policy Director and coordinated Economic Human Rights: The Time Has Come!, a national campaign in the United States, which organized several Congressional hearings on growing hunger and poverty and the loss of family farms in the US.

She is the co-editor of America Needs Human Rights (Food First Books, 1999). Her articles and opinion pieces on trade, women in development and food security have appeared in numerous national and international news papers and journals including, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, Bangkok Post, The Times of India, Economic and Political Weekly, Seattle Times, and The Nation. Anuradha is a jury member of the Right Livelihood Award (also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize) and is a Board Member of the Turning Point Project.

Trained as a Political Scientist in India and England, she was a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley and has taught at the New College of San Francisco and Dominican College of San Rafael. Prior coming to the US, Anuradha worked with Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA), a major development group in India.

Marc Lappé, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Center for Ethics and Toxics. Marc has spearheaded numerous campaigns to regulate or control toxic substances and is widely regarded as an environmentalist and non-fiction writer. He wrote the first book to urge restraint on the over-use of antibiotics (Germs That Won't Die, Doubleday/Anchor, New York, 1978). He has since authored or co-authored 13 books and 120 articles or chapters on ethics, genetics, immunology and the environment, including Chemical Deception and Evolutionary Medicine (Sierra Club Books, San Francisco, 1993 & 1995); The Tao of Immunology (Plenum, New York, 1997); and The Body's Edge (Henry Holt, New York). He holds a doctorate in experimental pathology from the University of Pennsylvania. His training includes a five year stint at the nation's first bioethics institute, the Hastings Center, where he is a Fellow. In 1982, he received a four-year National Science Foundation/National Endowment for the Humanities Award. He has directed the State of California's Hazard Evaluation System, the Office of Planning & Evaluation and the Office of Health Law and Values. His teaching includes stints at the State University of New York, the University of California at Berkeley, Sarah Lawrence College, Northwestern University and the University of Illinois College of Medicine where he held a tenured Professorship of Health Policy and Ethics (1986-1993). He currently teaches a course in Science and Ethics at the College of Marin.

Marcy Darnovsky, Ph.D., is Associate Executive Director of the Center for Genetics and Society. She has taught courses on the politics of science, technology, and the environment at the Hutchins School of Liberal Studies at Sonoma State University. She has over forty publications to her credit, and has worked as an activist in a wide range of progressive political movements. The book Redesigning Life? The Worldwide Challenge to Genetic Engineering (New York: Zed Books, 2001) contains her chapter on "Designer Babies." Ms. Darnovsky holds a Ph.D. from the University of California at Santa Cruz.


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