Monday's fish wrap

Readers of the British press and participants in an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) colloquium on Science and Technology at the Millennium last week were treated to very different manifestations of the same phenomenon: the presentation of imaginary threats posed by biotechnology as if they are real and imminent dangers. Like all good bedtime stories, both used real events as points of departure.

In the British case, it was a fish tale, about a real salmon that has been genetically engineered to rapidly reach normal size. By the time the British press was done with it, the thing had reached mammoth proportions and threatened to eat up all the other fish in the sea.