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Life Changing: How Humans are Altering Life on Earth Reviews

Life Changing: How Humans are Altering Life on Earth  by Helen Pilcher

Life Changing

Helen Pilcher

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1 review

Imprint: Bloomsbury Sigma
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publication date: 6 Feb 2020
ISBN: 9781472956712

For the last three billion years or so, life on Earth was shaped by natural forces. Evolution tended to happen slowly, with species crafted across millennia. Then, a few hundred thousand years ago, along came a bolshie, big-brained, bipedal primate we now call Homo sapiens, and with that, the Earth's natural history came to an abrupt end.

4 stars out of 5
James McConnachie
19 Jan 2020

" It has some good lines and is richly entertaining throughout, but under the surface it is pretty serious."

For all the ethical doubts, Pilcher is for the most part upbeat and pro-science. She is excited by “pharming”, whereby GM bacteria, or goats or chickens, are used to make insulin, or anticoagulants, or enzymes — the latter in their milk and eggs. She is wry but enthusiastic about “atomic gardening”, the postwar scheme to deliberately trigger genetic mutations. Seeds were planted in huge circles around a source of gamma radiation — such as Cobalt-60, a product of nuclear reactors — and the seedlings with the most promising genetic mutations were selected and bred. You can find the results today in everything from soy sauce to sunflower oil, not to mention in your toothpaste and your beer, courtesy of the mint cultivar Todd’s Mitcham and the Golden Promise variety of barley.