Instantly after reading the first couple of pages of The Wind Up Girl I was excited. I love the thought process behind genetic modifications and engineering even though it posses great controversy in today’s society. The truth is that with genetic modification and splicing we are able to increase the natural resistance of many plants as well as increasing the size and any other desirable features we could want. This story starts off great a with Mr. Anderson Lake marveling over this exotic hairy green, seemingly “new” piece of fruit that the Thai people couldn’t possibly be fazed with. “A few people stop to examine Anderson’s purchase, but even if Anderson thinks the price is low, they apparently find it too expensive and pass on.” (1: pg 4). The biggest problem crossing the minds of scientists currently however is how far can they ethically go to improve life? Either animal life, or crossing over into human life.
Since the early days of civilized society, there has been a strong effort to bring about the desired features of animals as well as eliminate the undesirable ones through selective breeding. This was an proactive role of evolution forced upon creatures with no choice. But with recent medical discoveries involving CRISPR, or clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, genetic rewriting is becoming a very real option at any point in life. Through removal of specific gene points on the DNA with a cas cell that targets pretty precisely it’s then an easy matter of injecting the desired gene near the target area for it to take root in the sequence. (2) This is a problem in the world because all though this is feasible currently, the world is collectively against these “designer babies” that could result from desired genetic outcomes and then we have a Gattaca Problem where only the rich can have the desired jobs.
This desired attributes of animals is made obvious during an encounter with the enraged megodont. “the beast’s four tusks have been sawn off for safety, but it is still a monster, fifteen feet at the shoulder, ten tons of muscle and rage…” (1: pg 26) This feat of godly power of manipulation of genes is brought up again later as Hock Seng looks at the animals mutilated body, “its head lies at an angle now, half-severed from the rest of the body. More and more, the carcass is taking on the appearance of separated parts. Not an animal at all, more a child’s play-set for building a megodont from the ground up”. (1: pg 39) this is a metaphor for humanities role in playing god and not being realizing it’s possible consequences and that nature is more like organized chaos and not always controllable.
Bacigalupi, Paolo. The Windup Girl. San Francisco: Night Shade, 2009. Print.
“CRISPR.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2016.