Genetic Engineering in Oryx and Crake

In Margaret Atwood’s novel, Oryx and Crake, one of the major issues that is found in the majority of the novel is genetic engineering. Not only does Crake create a whole new species of people, but even before him industries such as OrganInc Farms were creating new species such as the rakunk, pigoon, and wolvog. Many articles have been written on this issue. One of these articles is “Genetic Engineering: The Future of Foods,” published by the Food and Drug Administration. The article starts out by explaining the process by which a food is genetically altered. For example, fruits and vegetables such as the tomato, potato, soybean, and corn were altered so that they would not be destroyed by pests while growing. Also, chemical enhancements made it possible to ship tomatoes still on the vine and prevent them from rotting.

Another article that touches on this subject is “Have a Heart,” by Sona Pai, which discusses researcher Randall Prather’s work in pigs. His article discusses using pigs as donors for people waiting for organ transplants. These animals would be bread for nothing more than housing kidneys, livers, and hearts to people on the waiting list for a transplant. Prather feels that pigs would work best because their genetic make up is closer to human genetics than any other animal.

Margaret Atwood’s viewpoint on this subject is not presented as something that is for the good of mankind; rather it becomes a detriment. All of the scientific advancements have only caused the downfall of humanity. Crake has taken genetic engineering to the ultimate extreme by attempting to control reproduction in the BlyssPluss Pill which wipes out almost every human being in a rather excruciating way. Atwood’s novel could be perhaps considered as a warning for today’s society to proceed with extreme caution if we do not want this fictional society to become ours.


Copyright 2006 Dr. Michael O'Conner
All rights reserved.