so you think you can 

2009年02月26日(木) 0時21分
Stem cell research has been a crucial part of genetic engineering research. Its contribution to different aspects on genetic alternation and figuration would become crucial turns of biotechnology advancements. However, extracting stem cells from animals is a controversy. The fact whether we humans are rightful to take away stems cells of other kinds of organisms, still remains a doubt. We may find it unfair, and inhumane to destroy animals' lives for scientific investigation. Animals are born with their chances and rights to live, instead of determined by humans. But sacrificing some of the 'lower-ordered' animals for the sake of our higher quality living is another issue. Values of lives and deaths are hardly something we the human race can determine but the nature. There would never be an end of story until one day values of men and all kinds of organisms on earth can be measured.-.-


2009年02月24日(火) 14時11分
Stem cell ethics - Is embryonic stem cell research ethical?

Stem cell research has become controversial because it focuses attention on moral and theological issues as well as medical ones.

When we consider stem cell ethics, we immediately find we are balancing what medical good might come from using embryonic stem-cell lines against the possible harm, not only to an embryo, but to a society that already may place too little value on human life.

Further complicating the issue is our very view of God. Some Christians believe that God Himself has blessed mankind with the ability to understand and act on complicated scientific matters. They feel we would be poor stewards of these gifts if we did not use them.

Others believe we are "playing God" if we delve into these mysteries; that these scientific "advances" are little more than extensions of Adam and Eve's ill-fated choice to eat of the tree of knowledge.

Christian theologian C.S. Lewis warns against separating nature from God in his book The Abolition of Man:

"We reduce things to mere Nature in order that we may 'conquer' them. We are always conquering Nature, because 'nature' is the name for what we have to some extent conquered. The price of conquest is to treat a thing as mere Nature. . . .The stars do not become Nature till we can weigh and measure them: the soul does not become Nature till we can psycho-analyse her.

". . .But as soon as we take the final step of reducing our own species to the level of mere Nature, the whole process is stultified, for this time the being who stood to gain and the being who has been sacrificed are one and the same. . . It is like the famous Irishman who found that a certain kind of stove reduced his fuel bill by half and thence concluded that two stoves of the same kind would enable him to warm his house with no fuel at all. . . . If man chooses to treat himself as raw material, raw material he will be."

We must be about more than just "doing good." We are called to discern God's will as best we can and implement it. We should be very careful when it comes to tampering with the very fabric of life.


2009年02月18日(水) 18時09分
Pros and Cons of Stem Cell Research - Embryonic Cells

The pros and cons of stem cell research come to the surface when we examine the third source of stem cells - embryonic cells. Embryonic stem cells are extracted directly from an embryo before the embryo's cells begin to differentiate. At this stage the embryo is referred to as a "blastocyst." There are about 100 cells in a blastocyst, a very large percentage of which are stem cells, which can be kept alive indefinitely, grown in cultures, where the stem cells continue to double in number every 2-3 days. A replicating set of stem cells from a single blastocyst is called a "stem cell line" because the genetic material all comes from the same fertilized human egg that started it. President Bush authorized federal funding for research on the 15 stem cell lines available in August 2001. Other stem cell lines are also available for research but without the coveted assistance of federal funding.

So what is the controversy all about? Those who value human life from the point of conception, oppose embryonic stem cell research because the extraction of stem cells from this type of an embryo requires its destruction. In other words, it requires that a human life be killed. Some believe this to be the same as murder. Against this, embryonic research advocates argue that the tiny blastocyst has no human features. Further, new stem cell lines already exist due to the common practice of in vitro fertilization. Research advocates conclude that many fertilized human cells have already been banked, but are not being made available for research. Advocates of embryonic stem cell research claim new human lives will not be created for the sole purpose of experimentation.

Others argue against such research on medical grounds. Mice treated for Parkinson's with embryonic stem cells have died from brain tumors in as much as 20% of cases.1 Embryonic stem cells stored over time have been shown to create the type of chromosomal anomalies that create cancer cells.2 Looking at it from a more pragmatic standpoint, funds devoted to embryonic stem cell research are funds being taken away from the other two more promising and less controversial types of stem cell research mentioned above.

life terminator 

2009年02月17日(火) 14時05分

genetic perfection, designer baby 

2009年02月14日(土) 11時11分
Some infants were unfortunately born with inherited diseases or disabilities which may cause lifelong miseries to themselves as well as to their families. With genetic make-up, foetus' genes can be altered and help avoid such problems. But there are worries behind, the natural conception of bearing a child now becomes artificial, and may even turn commercial. Children whose genes have been made up may bear other consequences, would they be called 'franken-children'? Will their health that's made up last long and forever?


baby make-up 

2009年02月13日(金) 22時08分
Building Baby From the Genes Up
By Ronald M. Green
Sunday, April 13, 2008; Page B01

The two British couples no doubt thought that their appeal for medical help in conceiving a child was entirely reasonable. Over several generations, many female members of their families had died of breast cancer. One or both spouses in each couple had probably inherited the genetic mutations for the disease, and they wanted to use in-vitro fertilization and preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) to select only the healthy embryos for implantation. Their goal was to eradicate breast cancer from their family lines once and for all.

In the United States, this combination of reproductive and genetic medicine -- what one scientist has dubbed "reprogenetics" -- remains largely unregulated, but Britain has a formal agency, the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA), that must approve all requests for PGD. In July 2007, after considerable deliberation, the HFEA approved the procedure for both families. The concern was not about the use of PGD to avoid genetic disease, since embryo screening for serious disorders is commonplace now on both sides of the Atlantic. What troubled the HFEA was the fact that an embryo carrying the cancer mutation could go on to live for 40 or 50 years before ever developing cancer, and there was a chance it might never develop. Did this warrant selecting and discarding embryos? To its critics, the HFEA, in approving this request, crossed a bright line separating legitimate medical genetics from the quest for "the perfect baby."

Like it or not, that decision is a sign of things to come -- and not necessarily a bad sign. Since the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003, our understanding of the genetic bases of human disease and non-disease traits has been growing almost exponentially. The National Institutes of Health has initiated a quest for the "$1,000 genome," a 10-year program to develop machines that could identify all the genetic letters in anyone's genome at low cost (it took more than $3 billion to sequence the first human genome). With this technology, which some believe may be just four or five years away, we could not only scan an individual's -- or embryo's -- genome, we could also rapidly compare thousands of people and pinpoint those DNA sequences or combinations that underlie the variations that contribute to our biological differences.

With knowledge comes power. If we understand the genetic causes of obesity, for example, we can intervene by means of embryo selection to produce a child with a reduced genetic likelihood of getting fat. Eventually, without discarding embryos at all, we could use gene-targeting techniques to tweak fetal DNA sequences. No child would have to face a lifetime of dieting or experience the health and cosmetic problems associated with obesity. The same is true for cognitive problems such as dyslexia. Geneticists have already identified some of the mutations that contribute to this disorder. Why should a child struggle with reading difficulties when we could alter the genes responsible for the problem?

Many people are horrified at the thought of such uses of genetics, seeing echoes of the 1997 science-fiction film "Gattaca," which depicted a world where parents choose their children's traits. Human weakness has been eliminated through genetic engineering, and the few parents who opt for a "natural" conception run the risk of producing offspring -- "invalids" or "degenerates" -- who become members of a despised underclass. Gattaca's world is clean and efficient, but its eugenic obsessions have all but extinguished human love and compassion.

These fears aren't limited to fiction. Over the past few years, many bioethicists have spoken out against genetic manipulations. The critics tend to voice at least four major concerns. First, they worry about the effect of genetic selection on parenting. Will our ability to choose our children's biological inheritance lead parents to replace unconditional love with a consumerist mentality that seeks perfection?

Second, they ask whether gene manipulations will diminish our freedom by making us creatures of our genes or our parents' whims. In his book "Enough," the techno-critic Bill McKibben asks: If I am a world-class runner, but my parents inserted the "Sweatworks2010 GenePack" in my genome, can I really feel pride in my accomplishments? Worse, if I refuse to use my costly genetic endowments, will I face relentless pressure to live up to my parents' expectations?

Third, many critics fear that reproductive genetics will widen our social divisions as the affluent "buy" more competitive abilities for their offspring. Will we eventually see "speciation," the emergence of two or more human populations so different that they no longer even breed with one another? Will we re-create the horrors of eugenics that led, in Europe, Asia and the United States, to the sterilization of tens of thousands of people declared to be "unfit" and that in Nazi Germany paved the way for the Holocaust?

Finally, some worry about the religious implications of this technology. Does it amount to a forbidden and prideful "playing God"?

To many, the answers to these questions are clear. Not long ago, when I asked a large class at Dartmouth Medical School whether they thought that we should move in the direction of human genetic engineering, more than 80 percent said no. This squares with public opinion polls that show a similar degree of opposition. Nevertheless, "babies by design" are probably in our future -- but I think that the critics' concerns may be less troublesome than they first appear.

Will critical scrutiny replace parental love? Not likely. Even today, parents who hope for a healthy child but have one born with disabilities tend to love that child ferociously. The very intensity of parental love is the best protection against its erosion by genetic technologies. Will a child somehow feel less free because parents have helped select his or her traits? The fact is that a child is already remarkably influenced by the genes she inherits. The difference is that we haven't taken control of the process. Yet.

Knowing more about our genes may actually increase our freedom by helping us understand the biological obstacles -- and opportunities -- we have to work with. Take the case of Tiger Woods. His father, Earl, is said to have handed him a golf club when he was still in the playpen. Earl probably also gave Tiger the genes for some of the traits that help make him a champion golfer. Genes and upbringing worked together to inspire excellence. Does Tiger feel less free because of his inherited abilities? Did he feel pressured by his parents? I doubt it. Of course, his story could have gone the other way, with overbearing parents forcing a child into their mold. But the problem in that case wouldn't be genetics, but bad parenting.

Granted, the social effects of reproductive genetics are worrisome. The risks of producing a "genobility," genetic overlords ruling a vast genetic underclass, are real. But genetics could also become a tool for reducing the class divide. Will we see the day when perhaps all youngsters are genetically vaccinated against dyslexia? And how might this contribute to everyone's social betterment?

As for the question of intruding on God's domain, the answer is less clear than the critics believe. The use of genetic medicine to cure or prevent disease is widely accepted by religious traditions, even those that oppose discarding embryos. Speaking in 1982 at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Pope John Paul II observed that modern biological research "can ameliorate the condition of those who are affected by chromosomic diseases," and he lauded this as helping to cure "the smallest and weakest of human beings . . . during their intrauterine life or in the period immediately after birth." For Catholicism and some other traditions, it is one thing to cure disease, but another to create children who are faster runners, longer-lived or smarter.

But why should we think that the human genome is a once-and-for-all-finished, untamperable product? All of the biblically derived faiths permit human beings to improve on nature using technology, from agriculture to aviation. Why not improve our genome? I have no doubt that most people considering these questions for the first time are certain that human genetic improvement is a bad idea, but I'd like to shake up that certainty.

Genomic science is racing toward a future in which foreseeable improvements include reduced susceptibility to a host of diseases, increased life span, better cognitive functioning and maybe even cosmetic enhancements such as whiter, straighter teeth. Yes, genetic orthodontics may be in our future. The challenge is to see that we don't also unleash the demons of discrimination and oppression. Although I acknowledge the risks, I believe that we can and will incorporate gene technology into the ongoing human adventure.

fogged up 

2009年02月11日(水) 18時52分
Even though scientists are working on projects and studies on biotechnologies, we were never sure about if we were doing right and were really making contribution to human lives. There are a lot of fogged up consequences of these developments which may turn out to serious destruction to the ecosystem. Continuous damages human beings are making to the earth have already turning out as alert to us, urging for our concerns and actions to improve and conserve the environment. While we make efforts in environmental protection, like reducing pollution and wastes disposal, are technologies doing more harm than all these? Can the advancement in technologies make it a better world when so many harmful effects emerges in the development?

to paradise, or to hell 

2009年02月09日(月) 17時44分
I never imagined people would patent plants and animals. It's fundamentally immoral, contrary to the Guaymi view of nature and our place in it. To patent human material ... to take human DNA and patent its products ... That violates the integrity of life itself, and our deepest sense of morality. -- President, Guaymi General Congress

In a cooler and therefore hungrier world, the US's near-monopoly position as a food exporter ... could give the US a measure of power that it had never had before ... -- CIA

One wonders, in fact, if those who contribute to keeping these masses hungry do not know exactly what they are doing, since famished, lethargic, diseased people are notoriously bad at overthrowing anybody. -- Susan George

If you don't own any land, you never get enough to eat, even if the land is producing well. -- Indian labourer

The foreign aid program of the 1960s - as it was in the 1940s and 1950s - is planned and administered to serve the vital interests of the United States. It is a prime instrument of US foreign policy. -- Dean Rusk, former US Secretary of State

Hungry people cannot eat that which is exported. Nor are they likely to eat from export earnings or benefit from so-called development achieved through these export earnings. People will escape from hunger only when policies are pursued that allow them to grow food and to eat the food they grow. -- Frances Moore Lappe & Joseph Collins

You can judge my reputation better than I can. I regret very much being put in a situation where I had to undertake what I had to undertake. -- Dr Andrew Millar, former scientist British Biotech

It is clear that everyone is in it for the money. The risks can be dismissed by appealing to the benefits, and when the benefits are not forthcoming, the promises have to be kept alive. Biotechnology is the South Sea Bubble at the end of the millennium. -- Mae-Wan Ho

We send today a very clear message to all those who have invested in Monsanto in India and abroad: take your money out now, before we reduce it to ashes. -- Karnataka State Farmers Association, India

One is left to wonder why, if the products are as safe and wonderful as claimed, they could not be segregated, as organic products have been for years, so that consumers are given the choice of buying what they want. -- Mae-Wan Ho

If in some countries the public wants GM-free products then [Unilever] will try to find them, whether this means buying other ingredients or reverting to traditional raw materials. If we fail to respect consumers views, we should not be doing our jobs properly. -- Morris Tabaksblat, joint chairman of Unilever

Labelling is the key issue ... If you put a label on genetically engineered food, you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it. -- head of Asgrow, Monsanto seed subsidiary

One of the ironies of this issue is the contrast between the enthusiasm of food producers to claim that their biologically engineered products are different and unique when they seek to patent them and their similar enthusiasm for claiming that they are just the same as other foods when asked to label them. -- Julian Edwards, director of Consumers International

What makes genetic engineering biotechnology dangerous, in the first instance, is that it is an unprecedented, close alliance between two great powers that can make or break the world: science and commerce. -- Mae-Wan Ho

what little we know of genetic engineering so far teaches us that the only thing that can be predicted is that the impacts are unpredictable. -- Helena Paul

Most biotechnology companies use micro-organisms rather than food plants as gene donors, even though the allergenic potential of these newly introduced microbial proteins is uncertain, unpredictable and untestable. -- Dr Nestle

Transgenes transferred into the wider environment cannot be tracked down and simply recalled to the laboratory. A ripple effect on other species will take place, even if it cannot be predicted when such an effect will occur, to what extent, or in which species. -- Ricarda A Steinbrecher

My worry is that other advances in science may result in other means of mass destruction, maybe more readily available even than nuclear weapons. Genetic engineering is quite a possible area, because of these dreadful developments that are taking place there. -- Joseph Rotblat, Nobel Prize Laureate

The large-scale release of transgenic organisms is much worse than nuclear weapons or radioactive nuclear wastes, as genes can replicate indefinitely, spread and recombine. There may yet be time enough to stop the industry's dreams of turning into nightmares if we act now, before the critical genetic 'melt-down' is reached. -- Mae-Wan Ho

If something does go badly wrong we will be faced with the problem of clearing up a kind of pollution which is self-perpetuating. I am not convinced that anyone has the first idea of how this could be done, or indeed who would have to pay. -- Prince Charles

There is substantial opposition from the public, from the media, and not least, from retailers. -- leaked internal Monsanto report

medicines of the time 

2009年02月07日(土) 15時24分
Nowadays insulin are manufactured by artificial synthesis, much more preferred than traditional production from serum of cows. The current production method is way better than the one in the old times when cows were taken blood and had their insulin extracted. The new technology has increased the amount of humulin produced and is a much safer method. Infection of diseases from cows and rejection are now minor worries and have small chances of happening. Advancement in the medical areas are beneficial to humans most of the time, when other animals often sacrifices during investigations and development. For now we have taken so many lives for our own sake and future, should we do something to pay back?

medical applications of genetic engineering 

2009年02月05日(木) 21時22分
Genetically engineered microorganisms hold great potential for the production of drugs and vaccines, for improvement of agricultural crops, and for other products and processes.The drawback however is that it can't be stopped either, it can't be switched off. And furthermore, the theory doesn't hold up with reality. There is not any particular reason or evident regarding the working of a “new” gene for a limited amount of time and then “falls silent”, as well as there is no way to know in advance if this will happen. Genetic Engineering will not only use the information of one gene and use it with the promoter of another gene, but will also take fragments and sections from other genes and other species. This is aimed to benefit the expression and function of the “new” gene.
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