"Hope tiptoed back into the world, armed with sachets of benign bacteria," writes Nigel Calder is his new book The Green Machines (Putnam, 1986). It crept back into a world tottering on the brink of nuclear war, a world full of common people disgusted with the moral bankruptcy of the modern nation-state and the unwillingness of political leaders to do anything constructive to stop the madness. Writing from the vantage point of 2030 A.D., Calder envisions these people commandeering the "green machines "—engineered biotechnology systems—to create their own food, energy, housing, and other goods. Looking back on the 1980s, he reports that one burning question of that beleaguered time was "Should Science Be Stopped?" The following is adapted from the book.

By the mid-1980s, the latest hopes of checking the arms race were foundering on disagreements between the superpowers about strategic defenses in space, and it seemed that after 2,500...

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