Wednesday, December 4. 2013
I have always said that if you want accurate information about stem cell research and its possibilities, you should be reading the business section. Anything else is probably misleading, hyped or even flat out lies. In other words, follow the money. The money will tell you what is truly promising research.
The money is painting a very clear picture of what pro-lifers knew all along: adult stem cells are worth investing in. Embryonic? Well, they haven't lived up to the incessant hype surrounding their potential.
In just a few years, budgets that used to go almost entirely to embryonic stem cell projects are being quietly allocated to adult stem cell research.
Continue reading at Creative Minority Report>>
Tuesday, November 26. 2013
King's College in London is proud that they have provided 16 new embryonic stem cell lines to the United States' National Institutes of Health (NIH) registry of stem cell lines eligible for federal funding. On the King's College website they explain that they have created these stem cell lines with a variety of genetic disease for US researchers to work on:
Scientists from King’s College London have announced that 16 human embryonic stem (hES) cell lines have been approved by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and placed on their Stem Cell Registry, making them freely available for federally-funded research in the USA. The stem cell lines, which carry genes for a variety of hereditary disorders such as Huntington’s disease, spinal muscular dystrophy and cystic fibrosis, are considered to be ideal research tools for designing models to understand disease progression, and ultimately in helping scientists develop new treatments for patients.Where are they getting these "disease-specific" embryonic stem cell lines? By looking for IVF embryos with genetic disease and ripping them open for their stem cells. At least they clearly admit it:
Embryonic stem cell lines are grown from frozen embryos donated by patients undergoing preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) in conjunction with IVF treatment. Unlike ‘adult’ stem cells, embryonic stem cells can differentiate into any type of cell within the body and are considered to be more useful for stem cell-based therapies. Disease-specific stem cell lines are created from embryos found to be affected with genetic disorders and therefore not suitable for implantation, but offer huge potential for research into disease development.The article says these embryos are "not suitable for implantation." That means that because of their genetics, these embryos are deemed are not suitable to live. (Does that mean every human being with genetic diseases like cystic fibrosis are not suitable to live. Are they also better utilized for research?)
Does anyone see how horribly Orwellian this practice is? There is a seek-and-destroy mission for embryos with genetic disease. They are condemned in pursuit of cures for others with their same genetic condition. They are being destroyed for research that is intended to help them; that is if they were considered "suitable to live." And our tax dollars can go to fund research using cells from these lives sacrificed on the altar of medicine.
All of this is unnecessary, of course, because disease-specific pluripotent stem cell lines can be created with induced plutipotent stem cell technology. Instead of searching for and destroying embryos with genetic disease, researchers can create pluripotent stem cells by reprogramming cells from a patient with a genetic disorder. iPSC technology allows for the creation of stem cell lines for disease research without destroying the very lives the research is supposed to help.
Friday, November 15. 2013
It seems that integration of technology into our otherwise healthy bodies may be on the horizon. Motorola has applied for a patent for a throat tattoo that can act as a microphone for many devices. PC Mag has the story:
Motorola has applied for a patent for an electronic skin tattoo that acts as a mobile communication device.Other stories indicate that Motorola, owned by Google, mentioned a lie detecting capability:
The patent states that this temporary tattoo could “include a galvanic skin response detector.” If the user is “speaking falsehoods,” the tattoo can detect skin response caused by nervousness.PC Mag says this is "permanent" while others say it is a "temporary" tattoo. This seems like a big detail. If it is a permanent microphone tattooed on your neck, then that is clearly transhumanism. If it is temporary then I would say it is just technology that can be removed at the user's discretion.
Motorola does not seem to want to talk about it, declining to make a statement about their application.
I suppose, we shall see.
Monday, November 11. 2013
The piano player at my parish died last week. Her name was Maralyn. We barely knew each other. I didn't even know her last name. But I will miss Maralyn every Sunday, probably until the day I die.
Let me explain.
Continue reading at Creative Minority Report >>
Tuesday, November 5. 2013
Chelsea puts together another awesome episode of BioTalk:
Wednesday, October 30. 2013
Google has launched a new company called Calico (California Life Company) whose focus is to "solve death." CNN reports:
Last month Google announced a new medical company called Calico, whose explicit aim is to take on aging itself. But what will Google's approach be? And what other research into prolonging life already exists?...The article, titled "How Google's Calico aims to fight aging and 'solve death'," speculates about everything from cryogenics to cloning to nanotechnology as Calico's focus.
Calico may be looking at diseases like Alzheimer's, heart disease and cancer initially, but I speculate that part of Calico's approach will be working on an interface between man and machine. This is a Google company after all.
Continue reading at Creative Minority Report >>
Friday, October 25. 2013
To stop the latest of the Brave New World movements, we need a cacophony of resistance. Luckily, it is not just pro-lifers that are sounding the alarm about three-parent IVF, also called mitochondrial replacement (MR).
People from all sides are voicing their concerns about the ethics and safety of this technique where a donor egg's nucleus is removed and replaced with the nucleus of a woman with mitochondrial disease. That genetically-engineered egg is then fertilized with sperm creating an embryo that has genetic material from three persons, the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from the donor, and nuclear DNA contributed by the parents.
And while it sounds like a nice thing to be able to help women who have mitochondrial disease to have healthy children (a woman with a mutation in her mtDNA cannot help but pass on that mutation because we inherit our mitochondria from our mother), there is a laundry list of ethical issues that finally seem to be gaining traction.
Jessica Cussins, an IVF-conceived adult, pretty much hits them all in her piece at the Huffington Post.
There is the fact that there is a shocking lack of animal studies which means that no one really knows that this is safe, and yet many are willing to move forward with this blatant experimentation on the next generation.
There is also the fact that this is a germ-line genetic modification which means it will be passed on to further generations. I will add that the only way to prevent that would be to toss out all the female embryos and transfer only males since they could not pass on their mitochondria. This has been suggested already.
Finally, Cussins points out something I have yet to cover: the fact that mitochondrial replacement has more in common with SCNT, better known as cloning, than it does IVF. In both cloning and MR, the nucleus of a donor egg is removed and replaced with another. In cloning, the egg is made to think it has been fertilized. In MR, the egg is fertilized.
We know that SCNT in animals has had some serious problems. Cloning trials in agricultural animals in New Zealand were halted because an unacceptable number of the cloned animals and their gestating mothers had to be euthanized.
So, I just can't agree with the recent article in The Scientist, which compared the unease around mitochondrial replacement techniques to the initial unease surrounding traditional IVF. I'm glad that people were concerned about the welfare of us IVF kids, but mitochondrial replacement (which is much closer technically to reproductive cloning than it is to traditional IVF) is exponentially more problematic.On a certain level, she is right. This is not just another reproductive technology. We are on a threshold. Will we move forward in genetically-engineering our children, forever changing the course of humanity? Cussins points out the importance:
There are larger social and ethical considerations that mitochondrial replacement also forces us to confront. Most importantly, this technology raises one of the thorniest questions humanity will ever face: are we willing to genetically modify future generations of humans?Cussins last thoughts hint at the same suggestion that I have made. Instead of engineering people to not have mitochondrial disease, how about we focus on cures and treatments for mitochondrial disease, not just for future generations, but for people who are living with it right now:
I hope that this discussion will also raise awareness and improve access to healthcare for the people who are already alive and struggling with mitochondrial diseases today.Of course we Catholics reject IVF in all its forms and we understand that the three-parent IVF is just a logical progression of making life outside the body. But, we have allies in this fight against the creation of genetically-engineered children in those who may disagree with our views on reproductive technologies. I am certain it will take all our voices together to halt this bullet train.
Tuesday, October 22. 2013
This is so horrific and evil that it almost defies reason. Officials have rescued a girl from Somalia that was brought to the UK to harvest her organs. They are sure that this is not an isolated incidence. The Telegraph has the story:
The unnamed girl was brought to the UK from Somalia with the intention of removing her organs and selling them on to those desperate for a transplant.This is exactly what I mean when I say that we abandon the embryo at our own peril. Once we accept the exploitation of one of our species for parts, then we all start to look like harvestable biological material that could be used better somewhere else.
Is it just a coincidence that as the West creates and destroys embryos on a massive scale, exploitation of those in the third world for their body parts by rich Westerners is on the rise? I doubt it.
This is the world we live in. Without a fundamental shift back to the understanding that human life is sacred no matter the stage of development, skin color, or socioeconomic status, this is going to continue and likely get worse.
Maybe it is time to consider Scott Carney's proposal to get rid of anonymity in the flesh trade. Carney is an investigative journalist who has covered the red market, the market in human parts, all over the world. His book, The Red Market: On the Trail of the World's Organ Brokers, Bone Thieves, Blood Farmers, and Child Traffickers, covers everything from blood transfusions, to kidney transplants, to egg donation, to surrogacy. The book sadly exposes the exploitation of the poor and weak that is rampant.
Carney asserts that it is the anonymity of organ transplants, blood transfusion and even egg donations that allows body brokers to exploit the poor and allows the recipients of ill-gotten parts to turn a blind-eye. Would you be so quick to accept that kidney if you knew it came from a girl from Somalia? Would a doctor transplant such an organ?
Obviously, anonymity is in place to protect both donor and recipient. But that is in a wholesome system were parts are obtained ethically. Anonymity in a world such as ours, where the West seems to have an insatiable appetite for parts, just protects the black marketeers and keeps their victims out of sight. No one is responsible because no one knows anything.
It is time to bring sunlight to the dark shadows of a growing organ market. Maybe getting rid of the anonymity that clouds the trade in body parts is a step in the right direction.
Friday, October 18. 2013
This is going to be a fascinating documentary:
If you are not reading Wesley Smith's blog Human Exceptionalism, you should be.
This clip reminds me of Wesley's quote on Starbucks cup The Way I See It #127 (which sits on my desk holding a variety of writing implements):
Wesley is completely correct.
Continue reading at Creative Minority Report >>
Monday, October 14. 2013
This year scientists announced a major breakthrough and a possible gene therapy for Down Syndrome. In cells taken from a person with Downs, they were able to silence the extra 21st chromosome. This may mean a targeted therapy to help fix the health and cognitive problems caused by have that extra bit of genetic material.
Reactions were mixed. Some thought that people with Down Syndrome are perfect as God made them and we should do nothing to change them. I understand this reaction very well. We live in a society that kills 90% of people with Down Syndrome before they make it out of the womb. It is entirely natural to want to protect those with Downs because they are wonderfully lovely people that, frankly, the world needs more of, not less.
I saw this breakthrough a bit differently. I found the news exciting and full of hope. I too believe that God made those with Down Syndrome as perfect people, but they are not defined by their chromosomes. They do have an extra that causes all kinds of problems from cognitive difficulty, to heart defects, to cancer. I feel it is important to treat these issues. We would not hesitate to treat cystic fibrosis or Huntington's disease or even autism if there was gene therapy available.
That being said, I find it hard to comment on these very important discussion because I do not have a special needs child. I look to other parents of special needs kids to help guide me. This piece, Down Syndrome Research, Hope for My Daughter, by Leticia Velasquez at Amy Julie Becker's Thin Places blog is so fantastic I had to share it with you. Leticia is the author of the blog Cause of Our Joy, co-founder of KIDS (Keep Infants with Down Syndrome), and the editor of A Special Mother is Born. She also has a daughter, Christina, with Down Syndrome who has regressed over the years. Christina no longer speaks. Leticia hopes this breakthrough will help bring her daughter back:
My daughter is trapped by Down syndrome’s confused messaging in her brain. Do I love her as she is, even if she never speaks again? Of course I do! Do I want her to speak with all my heart so that she can find more happiness in the world, in friendships, reading, and fulfilling work?Beautiful. I share Leticia's hope that someday all people with Down Syndrome can live the fullest lives possible. I think gene therapy may be a step in that direction.
Wednesday, October 9. 2013
This week the genetics world exploded with discussion about a new patent just issued by the U.S. Patent Office to a California company, 23andMe. 23andMe is a direct-to-consumer genetic testing company that offers genetic information to anyone who sends in a saliva sample and a fee.
23andMe was offered a patent on their inheritance calculator, a feature where prospective parents can figure out the likely traits their children will have. The controversy surrounds the patent's extension into the fertility industry where this technology could be used to screen donor egg and sperm to create a child with desired physical attributes.
Nature reports some of the options listed in the patent:
Figure 4 of the patent application lists the following alternative choices: “I prefer a child with”: “longest expected life span”/“least expected life cost of health care”/“least expected cumulative duration of hospitalization.” Figure 6 visualizes a choice between the “offspring’s possible traits” of “0% likely endurance athlete” and “100% likely sprinter.”
Continue reading at LifeNews>>
Friday, October 4. 2013
I worry for young people these days. I know every generation says that about the one that follows, but today's youth may face a world where simply being human won't be good enough. Augmentation may be required to participate in society. A cyber-brain here, a bionic limb there with some genetic engineering and a few nanobots sprinkled in for good measure. Being without such tech integrated into their bodies may be a one-way ticket to second-class citizenship, maybe even slavery. Choosing to live as God created them could become a great sacrifice.
I have argued many times that once we must violate our bodily integrity with technology, not to get ahead, but to just keep up, that is the moment when we no longer are masters of our technology. That is the point where technology is our master. That is when we become slaves to the things we have created.
Ironically, the very technology that might enslave the human race is being sold today as the only thing that can liberate us. Case in point, this interview with "Elysium" and "District 9" director, Neill Blomkamp, where he is clear that, to level the playing field, we must genetically enhance. Blomkamp told The Guardian:
You'd literally have to change the human genome to stop wealth discrepancy.... The only way things will change is if we're smart enough to develop technology that can think us out of this, meaning augmenting ourselves genetically to be smart enough to change sh**.
Continue reading at Creative Minority Report>>
Wednesday, October 2. 2013
I have said many times that we abandon the embryo at our own peril. Once we allow some human organisms to be ripped apart for their cells, then we all start to look more and more like harvestable biological material.
No where is this more apparent than in the debates about organ donation. Donating organs in the event of death used to be considered something that should be completely voluntary and without incentive. But because the demand for organ outweighs the supply, more and more we are hearing that organ donation should be "opt-out" instead of "opt-in" where doctors presume consent unless otherwise specified and family members have no say in the matter.
After all, you are a bag of organs that could be used better elsewhere.
Ted Rall, American columnist and cartoonist, goes one step further and says organ donation should be mandatory, no "opt-out" allowed, and the government should just take organs for those who need them. From "Mandatory Organ Donation":
On the other hand, it is estimated that 18 people die every day due to a national shortage of organ donations. This crisis can be solved.First of all, of those 2.5 million American deaths every year, only a very small percentage of those would be eligible for organ donation. A patient has to have suffered brain death where their brain is no longer functioning but, with the help of a ventilator to keep oxygen flowing, their heart is still pumping blood keeping their other organs intact.
Does anyone really want a bunch of government employees running around hospitals deciding who is brain dead as who is not?
Even doctors get this wrong. Just ask Caroline Burns who woke up on the operating table as doctors were about to harvest her organs. Or Sam Schmid, a 20 year-old college student who woke up from his coma after doctors declared him brain dead and were prepared to harvest his organs. Or Steven Thorpe, a British teenager that was declared brain dead by four specialists. His parents were approached about organ donation, but they were sure that there was still life left in Steven. They persisted and Steven was reevaluated. Two weeks later he woke from his coma.
How many others like Caroline, Sam or Steven have been misdiagnosed as "brain dead?"
How would Caroline, or Sam, or Steven faired if the government had decided that their organs were better used by someone else? Would the cries of Steven parents have been heard? Or would the decision have ceased to be theirs?
That is the problem with making organ donation mandatory. The assumption really is that your organs are of better use somewhere else. Once brain death is "established" then you become a bag of harvestable biological material, a "hunk of flesh" according to Rall. You are no longer valuable other than for your parts. (Sounds like the plight of the embryo.)
And does anyone really trust the government to make those determinations?
I certainly don't.
Hat Tip: Deeps of Time
Tuesday, September 24. 2013
In the last year there has been a push in both the United Kingdom and the United States for permission to create children with three genetic parents. This technique, often called mitochondrial replacement (MR), is presented as a simple switching out the mitochondria in the eggs of women with mitochondrial disease. We inherit all of our mitochondria from our mother, so a woman with mitochondrial disease cannot help but pass that onto her offspring.
In reality, the technique is far from simple. The nucleus of a donor egg is removed and replaced with the nucleus of the woman with mitochrondrial disease. This creates a genetically-engineered egg where the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in the cytoplasm of the egg is from the donor and the nuclear DNA, the chromosomes we all learned about in biology, is from the woman with the mitochondrial disease.
The embryos created with IVF using these genetically-engineered eggs have the nuclear DNA of a woman and a man, like all other embryos, but would also have the mitochondrial DNA of the woman who donated the egg. These children would have the genetic material from three individuals.
In addition, these genetically-engineered children, well at least the girls, could not help but pass this engineering onto their offspring. This is a modification that would affect generations.
In the UK, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust all came out in favor of pursuing the technique saying that because the chromosomes were unaltered, mitochondrial replacement was analogous to "replacing batteries in a camera" and would have no effect on other traits in the children.
Also, there are suggestions that sex selection be used in conjunction with MR. If all the female embryos are tossed out and only male three-parent embryos are transferred to the womb, then the modification will not be passed on to further generations because only women pass on their mitochondria. This is would be a fail-safe in case some defective mitochondria hitch a ride with the nucleus into the donor egg or something else goes wrong.
During all of this debate, I have wondered where is all the data to suggest that this technique is safe. There is a delicate balance of signals between mtDNA and nuclear DNA. Where is the evidence that replacing mtDNA has no ill effect? How can we even be discussing moving forward with this kind of human genetic engineering unless it has been shown to be safe in generations of animal studies? Where are those studies?
A recent paper in Science exposes the reality that there is little data on this technique and the data we do have suggests that MR is not just like "replacing batteries."
So far the only primates created with this technique are four macaques that have only reached 3 years of age. Other animal models show that in males, a mtDNA-nuclear DNA mismatch has some serious effects that may not be apparent until adulthood:
Studies on model organisms, ranging from mice to fruit flies, indicate that MR can profoundly change the expression profiles of nuclear genes and affect a range of important traits such as individual development, cognitive behavior, and key health parameters. These studies also suggest that males of reproductive age are particularly sensitive to MR-induced effects....So here is the reality: many are willing to move forward with this technique in humans when 1. there are no primates created with this technique that have reached adulthood or even had another generation and 2. it is clear that mtDNA does have an affect on the nuclear DNA and a mismatch between the two could have serious effects that may not be apparent until later in life.
This would be pure human experimentation with little or no regard for the people who are being experimented on.
So I ask: When will it be enough?
At what point will we stand and say, "No more unethical experimentation on the next generation!"
When will we turn to parents and say, "Sorry but your desire for a child does not trump the health and safety of that child."
When will we turn to academics in their Ivory Towers and ask them why they have such little regard for the health and well-being of future children?
I would say now is a good time.
Friday, September 20. 2013
Earlier this year, Dr. Robert Sparrow published a paper in the Journal of Medical Ethics entitled "In Vitro Eugenics." In it, Sparrow explores the possibility of creating generations of human beings in the laboratory.
He explains that the stem cells from embryos could be used to make egg and sperm cells, which, in turn, could create more embryos.
This would bring human reproduction into the laboratory not just for one generation, but for generation after generation. Sparrow explains that these embryos would be "orphaned at conception." They "would have no genetic parents: There would be no living individual … who could be described as the genetic progenitor of such embryos."
Sparrow calls this new possibility in human reproduction "in vitro eugenics."
While this sounds like something that could only happen in science fiction, producing egg and sperm from stem cells is now a reality. Scientists have already accomplished this in mice and are discussing doing the same in humans.
Why would anyone want to create multiple human generations in a laboratory?
Sparrow suggests it could become a "method to bring into existence children with a desired genotype."
Continue reading at the National Catholic Register >>
Wednesday, September 18. 2013
One of the modern zeitgeists that scares me the most is the growing love affair with eugenics among the elite. Whether the masses are aware of it or not, elite ideas trickle down and infect our subconscious. More and more dropping from Ivory Towers are notes that say, "Eugenics is good," and "The problem last time was the state," and "Personal choice is the key to success."
These days eugenics, which means "good birth" is being presented as a worthy endeavor as long as there is no coercion from government. Parental choice is paramount and we are told that if parents can choose what kind of child they want, what kind of child would be a "good birth", then the horrors that accompanied eugenics last time (i.e. millions exterminated as "unfit") will not repeat themselves.
The latest push for this view is a paper entitled "Eugenics and the ethics of selective reproduction" by two UK academics, Stephen Wilkinson and Eve Garrard. They discuss at length what eugenics is and what it isn't and they conclude that eugenics is simply "the attempt to improve the human gene pool." Then they conclude:
But even where selective reproduction is eugenic (which it sometimes is) it does not follow automatically from this that it’s wrong (despite the fact that many instances of eugenics historically have been morally abhorrent). For provided that the means used are ethically acceptable, and that people freely consent, it’s not clear that attempting to improve population health (‘the gene pool’) is a bad thing for us to be doing. On the contrary, it seems on the face of it to be a good thing – given the high value that most of us place on good health, and on preventing ourselves and our loved ones from acquiring diseases or impairments.Continue reading at Creative Minority Report >>
NeoStem, a New York adult stem cell company that has partnered with the Vatican to increase awareness about adult stem cells, has been awarded two grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue their work.
NeoStem works with what they call VSELs (Very Small Embryonic Like cells) which are adult cells found in the bone marrow that seem to be pluripotent, or able to become most or all of the cell types in the body.
One of the grants is to study the effect VSELs have on skin wounds in mice that mimic symptoms of scleroderma. Scleroderma is an auto immune disorder that attacks the skin and other organs making them harden. Over 300,000 Americans live with scleroderma.
Continue reading at LifeNews>>
Wednesday, August 28. 2013
School is upon us. With two now in high school, I am beyond swamped. Senior pictures, registration, try outs...oh my!
To focus on the coming year and get a good start, I will be taking a couple weeks off of blogging.
In the meantime, peruse this excellent article on the iPSC human trial starting in Japan. Yours truly is quoted throughout. From Catholic News Agency:
Quest for ethical stem cells prompts moral questionsContinue reading at CNA >>
Wednesday, August 21. 2013
Back in May I wrote a piece for LifeNews on H.R. 2164, Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2012. This proposed legislation would ban all somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) in humans. The point I wanted to make was that many times "cloning bans" do not actually ban the cloning of human embryos; they just ban the transfer of those cloned embryos to a womb for gestation. I highlighted that H.R. 2164 would actually ban all SCNT in humans for both reproductive and research purposes and urged pro-lifers to support it.
Dr. Dianne Irving at LifeIssues.net took me to task for that piece. She has some good points. Her issue with H.R. 2164 is that it only bans SCNT when there are other ways to produced humans asexually. (Asexually means reproduction without the union of sperm and egg producing a genetically identical organism.) Dr. Irving writes:
The Taylor article itself, as well as the proposed bill, define "human cloning" only in terms of one kind of human cloning technique -- somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) -- a form of cloning, by the way, that most researchers have long abandoned because of the scientific problems involved. Instead they have been and will continue to do research using dozens of other different kinds of cloning -- none of which will be banned by this bill, all of which can be used both for destructive research purposes as well as for reproductive purposes.She is right. There are many other ways to asexually produce human embryos besides SCNT.
In hindsight, I should have mentioned that the legislation proposed is incomplete and only a step in the right direction. I struggle with keeping posts informative without being overwhelming for the average reader. I truly just wanted to get readers to be aware of the fine print in cloning bills.
I saw the support of a ban on SCNT, even though it is not comprehensive, just like I do a ban on late term abortions, or abortions based on sex or gender. Such legislation is not ideal, but a step in the right direction. Once a ban on one type of asexual reproduction in humans is passed, I felt it would likely be easier to implement more. Not ideal of course, but progress.
In private correspondence, Dr. Irving responded that she holds this is not a case of incrementalism. To legally define human cloning as just SCNT is problematic. To which she wrote:
...to formally define "cloning" per se as only SCNT in a legal document is to create a legal loophole for other kinds of cloning to continue.She has an excellent point that I had not considered. Will legislation that legally defines human cloning as SCNT only give a green light to other types of human cloning? This is an important question to consider when reading and deciding on human cloning "bans."
So besides checking to see if a cloning ban only bans a transfer of cloned embryos for reproductive purposes, we should also look carefully at the procedures defined as cloning. Are they sufficient to gain our support?
Clearly, the best legislation would ban any and all means of asexual reproduction in humans. Short of that, a pro-lifer must decide whether to support a human cloning ban with a limited definition of human cloning or not because such legislation may cause more problems in the long run by allowing other forms of human cloning to continue.
Monday, August 19. 2013
Could it be that people are starting to notice that the fertility industry puts parental desire and profits above the health and well-being of children?
Looks that way in the United Kingdom. The Telegraph reports on a study to reduce regulation costs where the authors recommend that fertility clinics be required to report complications:
Safety drive to stop IVF clinics putting profit before embryosIf only the lawmakers in the United States were willing to look closely at our fertility clinics which remain the "wild west" of the fertility industry around the world. Only in the United States would cost-conscious couples be able to get cheaper embryos made in bulk.
I think if we took a very close look at what goes on in the fertility clinic we would be shocked and horrified by the full scale commodification of human life.
Tuesday, August 13. 2013
Just in case you haven't had enough of the "ethics" coming out of Oxford these days, here are more disturbing musings by Oxford ethicist, Rebecca Roache. You may remember Roache co-authored "Human Engineering and Climate Change" with Matthew Liao where they explore engineering humans to have cat eyes or to be smaller as a way to combat "climate change."
On the Practical Ethics blog in a post titled "Enhanced punishment: can technology make life sentences longer?," Roache laments the "laughably inadequate" sentence of 30 years in prison for Magdelena Luczak and Mariusz Krezolek. Luczak and Krezolek were convicted of murdering Luczak's 4 year-old son, Daniel. Daniel was beaten, starved and basically tortured before his death. These are terrible acts of evil that rightfully inspire anger in anyone who knows about the case.
Roache points out that Luczak and Krezolek will get what Daniel never did: humane treatment.
Continue reading at Creative Minority Report >>
Monday, August 12. 2013
Autism researchers at the Autism Center of Excellence in San Diego have found a network of genes that they say signal a risk of autism. A blood test for this “genetic signature” for children as young as 1 year old is in development.
A GENETIC “signature” of autism in babies as young as 12 months has been identified for the first time, an international conference is to be told.Continue reading at LifeNews >>
Monday, August 5. 2013
Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
Barnaby Jack uses a mannequin equipped with an insulin pump to show the vulnerabilities of wireless medical devices.
Barnaby Jack was a "good guy" using his hacker skills to expose risks in these critical medical devices. His work raises serious concerns about the ability to wirelessly control medical implants by "bad guys." Clearly medical device makers need to address these flaws in implants for the safety of patients who need them.
Barnaby's work got me thinking about transhumanism. In the case of pacemakers and insulin pumps, these devices are needed for medical reasons. But transhumanists want such devices for their otherwise healthy bodies. Neural implants, nanobots, cyber-brains, all integrated into our organic systems.
Why would someone voluntarily expose their healthy body to a cyber-attack? Is it naiveté that nothing bad will happen? Is it a trust in companies that their products will be "hack-proof?"
The truth is we can't trust software companies to create hack-proof software. I doubt any of the enhancement devices that transhumanists dream about will be any different. I ask, "Why put your bodily integrating at such risk?" If you have a medical need that is one thing, but just to be augmented? I don't get it.
Of course, Bryan Singer, has already addressed this scenario in a fictional format. Singer, creator of The Usual Suspects and the X-men movies, has made a digital series on transhumanism called H+.
In H+, a company provides an implant that connects the user's nervous system to computers and the Internet. Everything we love about technology, social media, music, sports, all accessible directly to our brain without any other device. This implant may even replace doctors. It seems to be a technological triumph until someone creates a virus that remotely kills everyone with the implant.
Here are the first 6 episodes:
Wednesday, July 31. 2013
One of my friends, who doesn't really follow the biotech scene, said to me one time, "When you tell me to worry about it, I will worry about it." I replied, "Worry. Now."
Human cloning is not coming. It is already here. It is time to stop pretending that this is a problem for our children and grandchildren. This is our issue to tackle.
In the latest episode of BioTalk, Chelsea and I discuss the realities of human cloning and what we can do to stop it.
Tuesday, July 30. 2013
You remember Julian Savulescu, the Oxford "ethicist" who is telling parents that we are morally obligated to choose the child among many "possible children" that is determined by genetic testing to have the "best life." He wants us all to use IVF, whether we are infertile or not apparently, to create a batch of embryos and choose the best of the bunch based simply on their genetics. I have discussed Savulescu's wrong-headed, scientifically-suspect notion of "procreative beneficence" already.
Of course, in our "right is wrong," "wrong is right," "wait...there is no such thing as wrong anymore" culture, Savulescu won't be outdone in his race to CrazyTown. Some other Oxford "ethicists" want to take it one step further. (I am telling you, something wicked this way comes...out of Oxford.) Thomas Douglas and Katrien Devolder argue that parents should consider not just choosing the child that has the possibility of the "best life," but also the one that will be genetically better for the rest of society. They call their principle "Procreative Altruism."
Continue reading at Creative Minority Report >>
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