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Unnatural Selection: How We are Changing Life, Gene by Gene

This is a very well researched book with many references and footnotes.. It is written clearly and rationally which makes it easily accessible for most people to read and understand. Many other scientists have been involved in sharing their research to clarify points, and others to read and comment on chapters to retain the integrity of the issues.

It will come as no surprise to readers to learn that diseases, weeds and people are evolving, some more rapidly than others. The drugs we use affect various viruses and bugs, helping them to reinvent themselves to survive. The author examines some diseases that we are “actively trying to beat back, from agricultural pests to life threatening bacteria”

The first chapter deals with the invention, and need for antibiotics, and their gradual overuse  More and more we are seeing the resistance to antibiotics of all kinds, and concede that we have contributed to the rise of the super bug. “’Unlike us bacteria share genes with siblings, friends and neighbours. This horizontal gene transfer provides bacteria with an unimaginably deep and interconnected gene pool” ”In the USA 37 million pounds of antibiotics are consumed” This doesn’t include those given to animals.

Future prospects suggest that “living things have a deep well of genetic variability to draw upon” This will help us in the fight against resistance to antibiotics and pesticides, but will not help fight against synthetic chemicals.

The author suggests the study of : “Epigenetics may provide an opportunity for differences in gene expression” and is an avenue to explore for our future. However, we have to be aware that pollution and overuse of drugs will continue to challenge our health and society.

This is a fascinating book to read, certainly for anyone with an eye to the future and the development of societies. It gives a great overview of the historical development of drugs and their use over time.

AuthorEmily Monosson
PublisherIsland Press