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The coming biotech age:the business of bio-materials

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Thanks to the impending completion of the human genome project and related endeavors, virtually everyone agrees, biotechnology will have as much economic and social impact on the start of the new century as the Internet had on the end of the last one. But Richard Oliver, a Vanderbilt professor and former marketing executive, makes even that prediction look restrained, as he broadens the playing field and assesses the future in The Coming Biotech Age. Focusing on what he calls "bioterials," Oliver provocatively projects nothing but good times from developments in biology and advanced materials--which encompasses technologies and businesses "whose aim is to understand, alter, or direct the function of a wide set of organic cells, including plant, animal, and human," as well as those "aimed at 'conquering' inorganic materials" likewise to meet commercial needs. Some may find the book too one-sided, as Oliver generally glosses over opposition to the revolution by simply dismissing those who challenge its inevitability or possibilities. Readers comfortable with this proselytizing position, however, will immediately pick up on his enthusiasm and grow to believe (as Oliver does) that this is the story of the 21st century. --Howard Rothman
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