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David Suzuki

David Suzuki

Biotechnology:The Future

Date Recorded: Apr 29th, 2004
Recorded At: Conscience and Science Forum, Vancouver, BC
Recorded By: Thomas Hicks, Necessary Voices Society
Duration: 59:00


Topic Background

Biotechnology is the application of living organisms to other matter with a desired effect of producing products or processes for specific uses. Although only recently has it become a household word, Biotechnology has been around for centuries. Microorganisms have long been used in the production of bread, yogurt, alcoholic beverages, antibiotics, and enzymes.

In the past few decades, techniques in biotechnology have expanded to include genetic engineering. With this technology scientists can move the genetic material of one organism into another. The genetic insert can allow the receiving organism to express desired characteristics. A wide variety of organisms can now be routinely altered in such ways, and the diversity of traits that can be conferred is nearly limitless. The most publicised form of this appears in genetically modified foods, which advocates claim will ensure an adequate food supply for a booming world population through developing pest resistant, herbicide tolerant, and disease resistant crops.

Criticism of the technology is intense and spans social, political and geographical boundaries. The three primary concerns are environmental hazards, human health risks, and economic concerns.

Dr Suzuki speaks on the future of this technology.

Speaker Biography

David Suzuki is an acclaimed geneticist and environmentalist, renowned scientist and broadcaster, lecturer and civil rights activist, and founder and chair of the David Suzuki Foundation. He and his twin sister Marcia were born in Vancouver in 1936. Although a third-generation Canadian, in 1942, Suzuki was sent with his family to an internment camp in the Kootenay Region of British Columbia’s interior, as a wartime measure following the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbour, an experience which surely influenced Dr. Suzuki’s future civil rights activism. The family later settled in London, Ontario. Suzuki went to college in Amherst, Massachusetts, and got a PhD in Zoology form the University of Chicago in 1961.

Dr. Suzuki’s desire to popularise science lead him into broadcasting; in 1971 as host of the weekly CBC Television show Suzuki on Science, and as the founder of CBC Radio’s science programme Quirks and Quarks in 1975. Four years later, Suzuki became the host of The Nature of Things, which became one of CBC Television’s most popular and respected shows.

Dr Suzuki has received numerous awards for his work, including a UNESCO prize for science, a United Nations Environment Program medal and the Order of Canada. He has written 42 books, the most recent of which is Tree, published in 2005. He lives in Vancouver.

For more information about David Suzuki visit

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