The Gene Connection; A New And Deadly Science
When first hearing the stories about the exciting new
discoveries in genetics and how the mapping of the human DNA coil would soon lead to amazing cures and even a block to the
aging process, I was optimistic.
But not anymore.
While many labs are directing their research in areas
of human health, I am alarmed at the potentially deadly directions it also is taking us.
New Science magazine has just published a report that
a scientist for the University
of St. Louis, who is funded by the U.
S. government, has deliberately created a deadly form of mousepox, a relative of the smallpox
virus, through genetic engineering. This virus is so deadly among the laboratory mice that there is no known cure. Nobody
knows if what would happen if this virus accidentally escapes from that lab or if it can jump species.
If this science team hasn't done it with its mousepox
experiments (for the military), I suggest that it will only be a matter of time before a group like it makes the perfect doomsday
virus. Once unleashed, it kills everything and there will be no cure.
If you think I am joking read on.
The Washington Post recently said that J. Craig Venter,
a noted gene scientist, and Nobel laureate Hamilton O. Smith are working on a plan to create a new form of life in a laboratory
dish. They want to create a single-celled, partially man-made organism with enough genes to sustain life.
If their experiment works, the tiny microscopic and man-made
cell will feed and start dividing to create a population of cells that will be unlike anything now known to exist on the planet.
Acknowledging that they are potentially creating Shelley's
long dreaded Frankenstein monster in miniature, Smith and Venter say that safety precautions will be taken. They say the cell
will be deliberately hobbled to make sure it can't infect people. They also promise that it will be confined, and designed
to die if it ever manages to escape into the environment.
And while this is going on, another group of genetic scientists
are playing deadly games with our food chain.
We are all aware of the controversy over Monsanto's genetically
modified corn, soybean, canola and most recently wheat seeds, but we haven't heard the whole story yet. The U.S. PIRG, a national
lobby for the state Public Interest Research Groups, has issued a shocking report titled Weird Science: The Brave New World
of Genetic Engineering.
The report suggests that genetic scientists seem to be
going wild in their research, happily breeding plants with the genes of humans, chickens, cows, mice and other animals, mostly
to test ways of making new drugs and cures that can be consumed in food products. I get the sense that they are playing with
the genetic mixtures because they discovered that they can.
What is scary about these experiments is that the U. S.
Department of Agriculture, obviously under political and financial pressure from big industry, has approved the open air test
plantings of various plants, including corn, with bizarre gene combinations.
Corn is especially dangerous because it cross pollinates
with the help of the wind. Corn pollin has been known to travel for miles.
U.S. PIRG warns that such plantings, where cross pollination
with other common food crops can occur, is unpredictable and potentially dangerous. Environmental advocate Richard Caplan
said the biotechnology industry, the food industry and the U. S.
regulatory system are failing to protect human health and the environment.
Some of the gene combinations reported are:
-Corn with hepatitis B virus and the simian immunodeficiency
virus, experimentally planted on 53.5 acres in Nebraska
-Safflower genetically engineered with carp growth hormones
to produce pharmaceutical proteins, grown on 11 acres in North Dakota and Nevada in 2003.
-Wheat genetically engineered with chicken genes to produce
fungal resistance. Three separate field tests were granted in Nebraska
between 2002 and 2003.
-Crossing the genes of the Norwegian rat to alter the
oil profile in soybeans. The first test was authorized in May 2003 on an acre in Kentucky.
My worst fear in all of this is the militarys need for
power and the zest by big business to make money without regard to the impact their actions have on our planet, our environment,
and the safety of mankind in general.
Unfortunately it is the military and big business that
have the biggest bankrolls to finance most of the research now going on in genetics. Instead of cures and a bright future,
we are creating monsters that will someday turn on us.