Monday, May 16, 2016

Remaking humanity to order

The Pope links gender theory to those who exploit the environment: because both ignore that personal selfish wishes do not trump reality, and that distorting reality leads to an ecological collapse (as the US is seeing in the collapse of the family).

Ah but it won't stop there: Be afraid. Be very afraid.

NYTIMES: scientists are discussing making an artificial human genome.

ethics? We don't need no stinkin' ethics:

Dr. Endy, though invited, said he deliberately did not attend the meeting at Harvard because it was not being opened to enough people and was not giving enough thought to the ethical implications of the work. 
oh, but such things aren't being discussed, another claims:

George Church, a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and an organizer of the proposed project, said there had been a misunderstanding. The project was not aimed at creating people, just cells, and would not be restricted to human genomes, he said. Rather it would aim to improve the ability to synthesize DNA in general, which could be applied to various animals, plants and microbes.

think GM food and animals, but worse.

Actually I have no problem on GM food that will feed people: e.g. inserting a gene to make it resistant to bugs or fungi, so the farmers don't have to use toxic chemical pesticides etc.

Scientists and companies can now change the DNA in cells, for example, by adding foreign genes or changing the letters in the existing genes. This technique is routinely used to make drugs, such as insulin for diabetes, inside genetically modified cells, as well as to make genetically modified crops. 
yet even these could lead to lethal bacteria or new diseases as unforseen consequences of the manipulation.

But the real problem is the next sentence:

And scientists are now debating the ethics of new technology that might allow genetic changes to be made in embryos.

But full chimera? Inserting human genes so pigs can be organ donors? (Will the pigs have a high IQ as a "side effect?) Dr. Moreau or Cordwainer Smith's Underpeople come to mind.

other NYT articles:

 Scientists Seek Moratorium on Edits to Human Genome That Could Be Inherited DEC. 3, 2015

 British Researcher Gets Permission to Edit Genes of Human Embryos FEB. 1, 2016

Article about genetic modification of embryos.

Catholics would note that experimenting on and then discarding these "unwanted" embryos is morally evil.

correcting defects or modifying humans?

Same moral problem here, even if done to prevent disease, you are discarding/ killing a lot of "unwanted" embryos.

PopeFrancis  on GM food: his main problem is the "big ag" problem that destroy the biological and social ecology in poor countries, but as I like to point out: uh, who else will grow food for the city folks?  This is a good, nuanced article that discusses the pros but does insist we note the cons...

An old policy paper about the pros and cons of the human genome project here.

The Cathlic Church has not made any formal statements about the Human Genome Project as such. But the present Pope, John Paul II, has commented, albeit very briefly, on various aspects of genetic manipulation. Genetic interventions which are therapeutic (e.g. gene therapy), namely, directed to the correction or amelioration of a disorder are acceptable, in principle, provided they promote the personal well being of the individual being so treated. Genetic interventions which are not therapeutic for the specific individual involved but are experimental and directed primarily to improving humans as biological entities are of dubious moral probity, but are not necessarily to be totally rejected out of hand. To be morally acceptable such genetic intervention should meet certain conditions which include due respect for the given psychological nature of each individual human being. In addition, no harm should be inflicted on the process of human generation, and its fundamental design should not be altered. Any genetic manipulation which results in, or tends to, the creation of groups with different qualities such that there would result a fresh marginalization of these people must be avoided. It has been also suggested by a few that because the Son of God took on a human nature in Jesus Christ, one may not so alter the human genome that a new distinct species would be created....

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