that gave birth to a geep. The strange new animal chimera has the head of a goat and the body of a sheep. None of these experiments could have been accomplished through classical breeding technologies. Although it is possible to use traditional breeding to cross some biological boundaries-for example, crossing a horse and a donkey to create a mule-nature places limits on what is possible. The new gene-splicing and cell-fusion techniques allow scientists to cross virtually all biological boundaries, recombining genes from totally unrelated species. Species are no longer viewed in organismic terms as indivisible entities, but more as mainframes containing programmed genetic cassettes that can be reedited, resequenced and recombined by proper manipulation in the laboratory. From a production perspective, the importance of gene splicing lies in the ability to manipulate living entities, for the first time, on the level of their component parts-to treat life as an assemblage of individual genetic traits. By eliminating the constraints imposed by biological boundaries, and by reducing microorganisms, plants, and animals to their constituent building blocks, scientists can begin to organize life as a manufactured process. The tremendous economic potential of biotechnology has drawn chemical, pharmaceutical, agribusiness, and medical companies together into a new life-science complex whose commercial clout is likely to equal or surpass that of the petrochemical complex of the past century. In 1980 the U.S. Supreme Court awarded the first patent on a genetically engineered creature-a microorganism created in the laboratories of General Electric that was designed and manufactured to eat up oil spills on the high seas. In 1987 the Patent and Trademark Office extended patent protection to any “man-made” creature, recognizing life, for the first time, as a manufacture. Today, thousands of microorganisms and plants have been patented as well as six animals. More than 200 genetically engineered animals are awaiting patent approval at the Patent and Trademark Office. By granting broad patent protection over genetically engineered life forms, the government is giving its imprimatur to the idea that living creatures are reducible to the status of manufactured inventions, subject to the same engineering standards and commercial exploitation as inanimate objects. The global agribusiness complex hopes to make the transition from petrochemical-based agriculture to gene-based agriculture in the coming century. Toward this end, researchers and corporations


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