ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

Date:  28 October 2000


More items on GM humans:
1) Resources for opposition: books and links
2) An article published this week supporting techno-eugenics
3) Pig-human hybrid article url
4) CAHGE Applauds criticism of UK Government over cloning [excerpt]

Item 2 below was forwarded by Richard Hayes co-editor of the TECHNO-EUGENICS NEWSLETTER. Richard has written elsewhere that the kind of predictions in articles such as this can seem too patently absurd or futuristic to need taking seriously, but in fact:

"Well below the radar screen of both the general public and policy makers, a concerted campaign is underway to perfect and justify the technologies that would allow the engineering of ‘designer babies.’

Support for the inevitability of this technology is coming from within the heart of the science establishment - for examples, see:

And, of course, the biotech industry is actively developing the technologies that would make it possible to offer human germline engineering on a commercial basis.  Believe it or not - we suspect you will believe it! - this work is almost completely unregulated.  For example, Richard writes:

"Geron Corporation of Menlo Park, California, holds patents on applicable human embryo manipulation and cloning techniques.  Advanced Cell Technologies (ACT) of Worcester, Massachusetts, announced last year that it had created a viable human/bovine embryo by implanting the nucleus of a human cell into the egg of a cow.  No laws exist that would have prevented this transspecies embryo from being implanted in a woman’s uterus in an attempt to bring a baby to term.  The baby would contain a small but significant proportion of cow genes."

As ever, the commercial interests are rife while regulation is lax, and as Richard says, the campaign is underway.

Far from being a grotesque joke, this is a real agenda.


[Thanks to Marcy Darnovsky for much of this information]

Books opposing Human Germline Modification and Cloning:

Andrews, Lori.  The Clone Age: Adventures in the New World of Reproductive Technology.  New York: Henry Holt, 1999.

Appleyard, Bryan.  Brave New Worlds: Staying Human in the Genetic Future. New York: Viking, 1998/ published in the UK in paperback as ‘Brave New Worlds: Genetics and the Human Experience’ by Harper Collins

Hubbard, Ruth and Elijah Wald.  Exploding the Gene Myth.  Boston and UK: Beacon Press, 1997

Kimbrell, Andrew.  The Human Body Shop: The Engineering and Marketing of Life.  New York: HarperCollins, 1993

Rifkin, Jeremy.  The Biotech Century  New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher /Putnam, 1998./ published in the UK in paperback by Phoenix

Websites opposing Human Germline Modification and Cloning (and related issues)

The Council for Responsible Genetics

The Campaign Against Human Genetic Engineering (UK)

Genetic Engineering and Its Dangers
Ron Epstein, SF State

The Foundation on Economic Trends
Jeremy Rifkin’s group

Campaign for Responsible Transplantation

The Corner House
In-depth essay on animal cloning

For a traditional Jewish view on cloning:

2. The Montreal Express, 25 October 2000
By Michael Hanlon, Science Editor in San Diego
The idea of having sex in order to have babies will be dead within 20 years, one of America’s leading scientists predicted yesterday.  The "messy business" of procreation will, in the richest parts of the world, be consigned to history as humans take control of their evolution and turn instead to the creation of "designer babies".

Addressing the world’s largest ever gathering of fertility experts, in San Diego, Professor Greg Stock of the University of California, Los Angeles, predicted that a number of new technologies would mean that parents wishing to have children will turn to science rather than letting nature take its course.

 "This is the beginning of the end of sex as the way we reproduce," he predicted. "We will still have sex for pleasure, of course, but we will view our children as too damn important to leave it to a random meeting of sperm and eggs."

Professor Stock, a biologist and expert on the genetics of reproduction and ageing, acknowledges that his theory is controversial.  But he said that several technologies - including conventional IVF treatment, pre-implantation genetic screening, and a new technique on the horizon which will allow women to produce thousands of eggs to store for later use - would revolutionise reproduction.

"It is likely that younger women will want to store their eggs before they have any plans for children or any idea of who the father will be," he said.  When egg extraction becomes cheap and simple, he predicted, many women will choose to conceive in the lab rather than leave it to chance in the bedroom.

Genetic screening to reduce the chances of having a baby with diseases such as cystic fibrosis, for example,will be widened in scope as more genes are identified.  "We will be able to screen for lots of genetic diseases. We will, in essence, be able to take a single cell from an embryo in the lab and calculate from that how the child will develop.  Effectively, the child will have to pass a test before it is even born. Eventually it will be thought as reckless to have a child without genetic screening as to have a child without pre-natal screening, as happens today."

Genetic screening is controversial because it allows doctors to decide which embryos created in the test tube should be implanted into the woman’s womb and which should be rejected.  While most experts support using the technique to eliminate deadly diseases, Professor Stock said they would have to face the reality that parents would also want to weed out children who would turn out to be obese or mentally retarded. Genetic counsellors would, he predicted, be needed in their tens of thousands to help parents make difficult choices.  Most controversially, Professor Stock advocated a technique called "germline manipulation".

Conventional genetic therapies involve altering the genes in the body of an individual. Germline genetic engineering means altering the genes in the individual’s sex cells as well, meaning the new genes are passed on to future generations.  Most scientists say that although this will soon be possible, it should not be attempted as humanity would effectively be redesigning itself, with unforeseen consequences.

But Professor Stock said there would be safeguards built in.  He told the annual meeting of the American Society for Human Reproduction that the technology would be available within 10 to 20 years.

3.  Cloning teams cross pig and human DNA ­ by Jonathan Leake and Nick Fielding
     October 8 2000    AUSTRALASIA

SCIENTISTS have successfully produced an embryonic pig-human hybrid.  Human DNA was inserted into pig cells which became tiny embryos.

4.    The Campaign Against Human Genetic Engineering
PO Box 6313 London N16 0DY phone 0208 809 4513 fax 0207 502 7516
For immediate release September 7th 2000
CAHGE Applauds European criticism of British Government
There will be no ‘free vote on cloning’
The Campaign Against Human Genetic Engineering(1) welcomes the European Parliament’s (EP) criticism of the Blair government’s position on human cloning (2).  The EP said that the government was employing ‘linguistic sleight of hand to to erode the moral significance of human cloning’.  It says that creating an embryo purely for research ‘irreversibly crosses a boundary’ and is contrary to EU policy (3).   The resolution encourages the use of adult stem cells as an alternative to cloning.

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