Strange Natures

Conservation in the Era of Synthetic Biology

Kent H. Redford and William M. Adams

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A groundbreaking examination of the implications of synthetic biology for biodiversity conservation

Nature almost everywhere survives on human terms. The distinction between what is natural and what is human-made, which has informed conservation for centuries, has become blurred. When scientists can reshape genes more or less at will, what does it mean to conserve nature?
The tools of synthetic biology are changing the way we answer that question. Gene editing technology is already transforming the agriculture and biotechnology industries. What happens if synthetic biology is also used in conservation to control invasive species, fight wildlife disease, or even bring extinct species back from the dead?
Conservation scientist Kent Redford and geographer Bill Adams turn to synthetic biology, ecological restoration, political ecology, and de-extinction studies and propose a thoroughly innovative vision for protecting nature.

Kent H. Redford is Principal at Archipelago Consulting and has worked for The Nature Conservancy and the Wildlife Conservation Society. William M. Adams is Emeritus Moran Chair of Conservation and Development at the University of Cambridge.

“Brilliant, challenging and fresh: Kent Redford and Bill Adams’s focus on genetics as a means of conservation raises fascinating ethical and scientific questions, and helps us understand why we so often fail.”—Fiona Reynolds, author of The Fight for Beauty

“A fantastic, readable primer on genetic technologies for conservationists and on conservation for geneticists—with the ultimate aim of charting an ethical course forward for both fields.”—Emma Marris, author of Rambunctious Garden and Wild Souls

Strange Natures is a ground-breaking work, the first book to investigate the multiple challenging questions of synthetic biology in biodiversity conservation for a broad audience.”—Thomas Brooks, International Union for the Conservation of Nature

"At last: Strange Natures goes to the very heart of the intersection of gene technology, conservation and ethics. Kent Redford and Bill Adams are thoughtful, sure-footed guides through this scientific and ethical thicket. An amazing book!"—Thomas E. Lovejoy,  University Professor of Environmental Science and Policy, George Mason University

“An essential guide to the future of nature; a future that you may not know is already underway. Strange Natures succinctly introduces a most urgent dilemma that all life has a stake in.”—Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, artist/ lead author of Synthetic Aesthetics: Investigating Synthetic Biology’s Designs on Nature

“Synthetic biology blurs the line between nature and artifice to the point where conservation seems to have lost all meaning. Strange Nature offers eloquent evidence that technology can be an instrument for reflection and that the natural still matters.”—Sheila­­­­­­­ Jasanoff, author of Can Science Make Sense of Life?

“The Earth is dancing with life. Will we dream a next dance or despair in dysfunction? Redford and Adams inspire all to learn and dream together.”—Drew Endy, Stanford University

ISBN: 9780300230970
Publication Date: June 22, 2021
296 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
9 b/w illus.