Thursday, August 27, 2009

Monkey scientific advance raises hope for the “Genetically Engineered Child”.

  • Yes, it is true. In the future it looks like a child may be born from three biological parents. But just like the hype with human embryonic stem cells promising that “the paralyzed will walk”, here comes more “save mankind from disease” propaganda in an attempt to legalize genetic engineering and cloning of humans.

    A team of scientists from Oregon have cloned a monkey from three different parents using an advanced genetically engineered reproductive technique.

    Let me explain. In a natural birth in forming a fertilized egg, the mother contributes both the mitochondrial DNA and her female set of chromosomes in her egg, while the father contributes only his male set of chromosomes from his sperm. All three sets of DNA are needed for normal development of the fetus.

    In this monkey experiment, the scientists engineered a fertilized egg from three parents by artificial means: They isolated mitochondrial DNA from one female donor, isolated a female set of chromosomes from another female donor and retrieved a male set of chromosomes from a male donor. Add all three sets of DNA to an egg in a test tube and Waaaalaaa…a cloned genetically engineered fetus from three different parents! (Well the later was simplified a bit..but you get the point.)

    What was the scientist’s explaination to why they genetically engineer these baby monkeys? To cure inherited mitochondrial disease.

    What were their real reason to do this experiment?…To initiate the first step toward legalizing the ability to genetically engineer and clone human beings.

    The fact of the matter is that this technology CANNOT cure any born human being who carries a defective mitochondrial DNA. It can only be used to scientifically create a test tube baby whose one of two mothers has a known transferrable mitochondrial defect.

    Before we start singing alleluia over this scientific advancement we should ask ourselves these questions:

    If a woman KNOWS she has bad mitochondrial genes, then why doesn't she adopt a child instead of making a genetically engineered child that is essentially not naturally her own but is constructed from three different parents?

    Alternatively why doesn’t the mother who has defective mitochondrial genes choose to do surrogate birthing instead of the genetically engineered option?

    Why does our society have such a fetish of finding all types of scientific ways to create children, when our earth is already over-populated with limited resources?

    What purpose does this advanced reproductive technology really serve humanity in allowing parents to genetically engineer their children?

    What is the cost of this technology to our society?

    In light of our current healthcare cost and access woes, is our public funding of these advanced reproductive technologies being used efficiently and appropriately in regards to our limited resources?

    Again, this advanced reproductive technology cannnot be used to help any born human being. Using mitochondrial disease as an excuse to create cloned genetically engineered babies from three parents is the first step toward using advanced reproductive technology to clone human beings for any purpose.

    Yes, human mitochondrial disease is a very serious and debilitating disorder, but should we as a society permit genetic engineering of a fetus to make babies from three parents when there are other viable options? Or alternatively should parents have the rights to scientifically create any baby they want when society has to pay for the development of this technology?

    What do you think?

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