Human beings will be happier - not when they cure cancer or get to Mars or eliminate racial prejudice or flush Lake Erie but when they find ways to inhabit primitive communities again. That's my utopia.
One of the key themes of the novel is the corrupting influence of commerce on science. When business interests dominate "you enter a skewed universe where science can no longer operate as science," Atwood says. The book takes this to extremes. For example, biotech company HelthWyzer puts "hostile bioforms" into vitamin pills while at the same time marketing antidotes. "The best diseases, from a business point of view," the author writes with irony, "would be those that cause a lingering illness."
... ) When pressed for present-day concerns in science ethics that prompted her book, Atwood says she feels particularly strongly about the loss of independence of scientists, citing the suppression of negative data by corporate sponsors. "If you get results that are contrary to what you want to market, the temptation to suppress those results is very strong," she says. Such competing interests are becoming increasingly common as governments across the world encourage more and more scientists to become involved in commercial enterprises.