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GM and cloning

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      25.11.2009 10:57
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      See op

      Food security is one of the biggest challenges we face, and we must find ways in which to produce more food while continuing to reduce the impact our agricultural practices have on the environment. The developed countries have a key role to play in helping to deliver this solution; however, as widely acknowledged, the current methods of production will not be sufficient to meet the increasing demand.

      GM technology has done much to empower small farmers - over 90% of those who choose to use GM crops are small-scale farmers living in developing countries. They grow them because quite simply - they work ! Contributing to exactly the kind of "sustainable intensification" which the developed countries called for - producing more food from a lighter environmental footprint.

      Additionally, it's worth noting that GM technology is highly accessible to small as well as large companies, and to university and public sector researchers, who have already developed GM crops of great potential value, such as virus-resistant papaya, insect-resistant vegetables for India, and vitamin-enriched "golden" rice. A recent Belgian study reported that "on average, two-thirds of the global benefits are shared 'downstream', ie among domestic and foreign farmers and consumers, while only one-third is extracted 'upstream', ie, by biotechnology developers and seed suppliers." In addition, a study published by Terri Raney, senior economist of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN, recently pointed out: "The benefits are shared by consumers, technology suppliers and adopting farmers, although non-adopting farmers are penalised as their competitors achieve efficiency gains they are denied."

      If we are serious about allowing farmers to produce more food at a fair price to consumers while safeguarding our natural resources, they must be given the freedom to choose modern, efficient farming methods based on tried and tested science. With that sentiment in mind, we should be pursuing a policy that recognises the demonstrable benefits that agricultural technology, including GM, can bring. Sadly, scaremongering about GM crops (particularly those who question the crops' safety, even though more than two trillion meals containing GM ingredients have been consumed, without a single substantiated example of harm to health). We need science-based decision-making, something our politicians clearly understand. The world has moved on, and it's time the anti-science activists did too.

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      15.08.2009 12:30
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      Profit over poverty

      The sugar price is at a thirty year high, put down to a particularly wet South American sugar season and a dry Indian one, those two countries the biggest suppliers, India the biggest user. The price rise is around 75% up on last year, increases likely to feed through to British supermarket baskets in around three months time, that basket very sugar dependent in the affluent west. It's an oddity that the poorest people in the west are often the fattest, certainly not the case in the third world.

      Last year we were told by the same people that maize and wheat would reach record prices due to a 60 million ton shortfall, they say this shortage likely to continue due too projected global warming summers. The grain price actually fell to record lows last year as the predicted hot weather failed to damage a bumper crop. The huge industrial farmers responded by planning to grow less next {this} year to increase the price, stopping world poverty, it seems, not on their agenda. And here lies the problem with the GM crop companies who want to come in and solve these supply problems with more fertile and durable crops - what is the real reason for the huge involvement from agrochemical companies like Monsanto if the giant farming companies they represent only want to grow enough grain to make a profit? Coupled with that global warming hype speculators can really make the prices volatile to make yet more money.

      Lord Sainsbury held a very prominent position in Blair's government, effectively the science minister, his arm of the supermarket chain wanting to pioneer genetically modified crops and introduce them into the British food chain, the so called "Frankenstein Foods", presumably why he wanted to be science minister in the first place and so be the guy who signed the official ok. But protesters organised themselves and hyped up the threat of GM and it was moved off the agenda, still today just two or three basic food crops like maize and soya modified and in the world food chain. But they are not in the third world improving yields but forced on to US farmers, some really suffering financially because of it. There's very little evidence that these genes help crops at all either. How do we know things like the dramAtic collapse of the honey bee population is a direct result of GM?

      If you ask me Monsanto's real objective is not to introduce super crops to help feed the poor but get their modified agro genes into the world food chain to earn a royalty off those basic food stuffs, simple as. Every grain of wheat with their gene patent in it, whether the farmer wanted it in it or not, will earn them a premium. An example of that happened in Canada where a genetically modified pollen Canola from a Monsanto facility blew into a nearby farm and pollinated the guy's crop, Monsanto demanding the farmer pay a 'technology fee', the farmer facing legal action when he wouldn't. Hundreds of North American farmers are going through the same thing every year and not winning the cases, this how the genes will eventually allow Monsanto to earn the worlds basic food stuffs.

      The reason many are suspicious of GM companies like Monsanto is because of their chequered histories, Monsanto the people who bought you Agent Orange no less, which was then dumped on Vietnam. From an article taken form an organic consumers website we discover that global water supplies that have been contaminated with the full range of Monsanto's chemicals, including PCBs and dioxins though various accidents and controlled venting, the company engineering a profitable market niche in response. As quoted 'It responsibly takes control of the public water resources they polluted, filters it, and then sells it back to the people'. Monsanto is making profit twice here by polluting the world's scarce freshwater resources, privately taking ownership of that water, filtering it, and selling it back to those who can afford to pay for it! That's what Monsanto are all about.

      On a Newsnight piece it showed how they recently tried to get their modified cotton gene into India, promising huge yields over the more conventional local strains. Eventual crop yields for Monsanto's cotton were five times less than traditional Indian cotton and the income from GM cotton was seven times less than conventional cotton, due to Monsanto's cotton having lower quality structures. If they can't do it in India then where can they do it? Maybe the science just doesn't work and this is indeed purely about getting their patent in everyday crops by the back door.

      Gordon Brown has recently perked up on GM crops and his people are once again calling for more trials in the U.K. This seems to tie in with his government's think tank comments saying there will be a world food shortage one day due to over population and global warming and so we will need to produce more crops and better yields here; presumably GM crops what he had in mind. Monsanto and the like pay well, contributing heavily to the Bush administration election campaigns, the Supreme Court lawyer that handed Bush the 2000 election also Monsanto's lawyer. If this GM stuff was good for us then why do they need to hand out donations to smooth the product into the food chain? Surely we would embrace such an innovative science if it worked?

      Ultimately though these crop price fluctuations have been partly driven by the so-called threat of manmade global warming. If the world is getting hotter and drier where most of the worlds crops are grown then why not grow more in the U.K., our crop and animal production falling an incredible 25% under Blair alone, Britain is clearly not suffering the effects of man made global warming as temps continue to fall every year. We are now a net producer of our own food. Cabinet Minister Hilary Benn wants to change up by going GM, yet it's pretty clear GM can't increase yields. The Monsanto's of the world are chemical and not food companies and should be no where near our food chain.

      As we know the U.K is becoming more obese, as I said earlier a quirky fact that the richer a country is the fatter their poor people are the reason why. There's no such thing as a fat gene in Africa! Paradoxically Britain's throw away a lot of food every year, some £6 billion pounds worth of unused product, around £610 annually per family in the U.K, according to the governments own website. If you want to feed the third world then that £610 quid's worth would do it. We have plenty of food but we waste it and eat too much.

      The reason our domestic food production is down is because the supermarkets run the food chain now and they undercut our local producers, getting farmers to produce at absolute bottom line, which drives them out of business so supermarkets increase importing. I worked at a very well know supermarket and we would chuck tons of perfectly savable food away every day, some five grand's worth a week, purely because it had past its user by date. A user by date doesn't mean it's gone off but just a legal pointer to deter law suits. The supermarkets put that waver there so they can resell you more stuff because you threw the last stuff away, a brilliant ruse and extremely wasteful for the consumer. The irony was the staff could buy the goods at half-price before it went in the bin. The world is not short of food but the fat people are eating it all.

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        17.11.2008 11:48
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        Just my view of cloning

        Cloning was until very recently, one of the cornerstones of science fiction, both pulp and serious science fiction. Depending on your point of view, cloning falls into one of two categories - an incredible scientific advance or an abhorrent crime against nature.

        Okay, I know these are two extremes, but it seems to be one of those issues where people have very strong pro or anti feelings. Personally, I believe that anything has the potential to improve our understanding of life, to advance medical science by providing the opportunity to prolong or improve the quality of life should be given the resources necessary for dedicated, extensive research.

        I am not one of those people who believe animals were put on this earth, or evolved for our use - however, nor am I a person who believes that all animals are our equal. If research on animals will advance our understanding without unnecessary suffering to them, I have no real problem with it. We all have heard and seen graphic demonstrations where animals suffer horrendously in testing - let me say categorically, I do not regard the testing of shampoo, makeup, soap etc on animals as acceptable.

        Cloning, I believe has many potential uses - the end to the extinction of entire species (but not as a replacement of species existing in their natural environment), a reduction in the need for organ donation and the need for anti-rejection drugs (grow your own replacement organs), love yourself? (have another you!) - What about IVF? I have close friends who are desperate to have children of their own - they see nothing wrong with using advanced scientific methods to help them conceive, but recoil visibly at the thought of cloning. Why? There is no evidence that cloning will result in a duplicate person, that looks, talks, and behaves as you do. (the old nature v nurture debate?).

        Seriously though, your child needs a transplant, none are available. What do you do? Hope? Pray for an fatal accident to happen so that someone loses a loved one but your child is saved because the unfortunate victim carried a donor card? Not a nice thought, but most of us would probably pray for this sad chain of events. I accept that some religious beliefs will be violently opposed to the idea of cloning and I appreciate that point of view. However, I am also a keen believer in the old adages 'live and let live' and 'each to their own' - I am tolerant of others beliefs and believe in individual choice, without prejudice.

        On the other hand, it does need to be carefully controlled and regulated, although how this is done I really don't know. How many stories have you read about 'illegal cloning', 'illegal experiments in cloning' etc?. It does, and will continue to generate shock!horror! headlines in the Sunday papers and daily rags. Some of the most respected scientists of the day have been publicly vilified for their support of cloning research - 100 years ago they would have declared heretic. Some would make the same claim today and who am I to say they are wrong?

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          03.02.2008 20:08
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          a summary of the advantages and disadvantages of gm crops

          Genetic Engineering within crops and the processes involved have come under serious scrutiny over the last several years since GM crops have become widely available. However, considering the ethics, what stance; in favour of or not, should be taken.

          Since the development of GM crops, issues of ethical concern have been envoked, particularly with regards to food crops within Christian groups. For example Rev. Roland Lesseps, Zambia, stated within "Church's Social Teaching and the Ethics of GMOs" in conlcusion that that "genetic modification does not meet the tests of the social teaching of the church for genuine integral development that respects human rights and the order of creation."Here it is no doubt that he opposes any form of Genetic engineering. Quite simply, many christians believe that God's creations are being 'disrespected'.

          Similarly, many scientists have opposed views. Many of them claim that proteins which cause allergies within plants which are then alterered genetically, may slightly modify the structure (preventing allergy). However scientists state that it is unclear if such a change in protein structure would then induce sections of the polulation to a new unknown allergic response.

          Environmental issues are also a cause for concern amongst some, since they have proven, on occasion, to cause harm to other crops unintentionally. For example a study of Bt Corn found that its pollen caused higher mortality rates in monarch butterfly caterpillars, despite the fact that the insect does not eat corn.

          There are also worries environmentally that some bacteria will become antibiotic resistant (superbug) making it much harder to treat diseases e.g. tuberculosis, and that insects will become 'out of control' as they become pesticide resistant.

          On the other hand, several benefits to GM crop introduction have been discussed, such as the genetic engineering of 'golden' rice. Unlike ordinary rice which lacks many essential vitamins and minerals, the 'golden' form is high in vitamin A. This is particularly significant in third world areas such as India, where rice is a primary food source and the people are therefore left malnourished. Often blindness is a consequence of this. On the surface, golden rice is therefore a solution to malnutrition in LEDCs, so long as it can be distrubuted.

          Similarly on a general scale, there is no doubt that GM crops have excellent health benefits in certain situations. This it seems will be come to greater importance since western soceities are developing 21st century epidemics of diseases such as diabetes. Modified staple foods such as barley may then be able to guard against these diseases by reducing the glycemic index of starch within the plant. Likewise, plants can now also be taught to make long chain omega 3 fatty acids that were originally only found in fish. If eaten regularly the increase in cardiovascular related diseases could therefore decline centrefold.

          In Conclusion I believe that genetic engineering can be of a benefit to humanity. However a lack of long term research based on the health affects of GM crops I feel are yet to be fully discovered. Therefore until then, the speed at which these new crops are developed should be slowed down entirely. Instead, focus should be applied upon a few crops which can be researched individually to a greater extent. Also any GM crops which do not entail health benefits; only comemercial, should be restricted for now, until several more years of research is completed.

          (also on helium as jac22)

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          03.02.2008 15:03
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          cloning, what is it, pro, against......

          Well I suppose this is probably going to be a tough review, the topic that's being covered here is not only sensitive, but also very powerful. The debate over what humans can and cannot do has been growing for centuries, during the 16th and 17th century, scientists were publicly humiliated, shun upon and even murdered because their belief over science outweighed the religious views of that period. We now have a period were the topic of science vs. God has created tension between many people. This review will give an analysis of the concept of human cloning, thereby introducing the concept and history of such cloning theories. I will give the main arguments for such concept, whilst also giving a balanced side as to why religious views can also be important to some extent.

          Concept:

          I suppose the most common misconception about cloning is that it involves creating a new human that is scientifically manufactured. However, one must note that there are three different methods of cloning; (1) DNA Cloning, (2) Reproductive Cloning and (3) therapeutic Cloning.

          DNA cloning refers to the transfer of one set of DNA codes from a living organism to something else, thereby replicating the DNA structures and elements.

          Reproductive cloning:

          Reproductive cloning is perhaps the most common practice that scientists have carried out in recent times. Scientists are able to create an animal that will have replicated DNA codes from an existing or dead animal. Most people will remember Dolly the Sheep. She was the first cloned sheep, way back in 1997, and this was seen by many as the breakthrough in cloning, if animals could be cloned soon humans could too. DNA from an adult somatic cell was fused together to create an animal embryo that evidentially created Dolly. Dolly lived from some 6 and half years.

          We finally have the third possible method of cloning, which is known as therapeutic cloning or (biomedical cloning). This process involves creating molecular carbon copies of tissues, and DNA strands, which would be used to help process the effects of mainstream illnesses such as cancel, and Parkinson's disease. This has perhaps been the most controversial one.

          The idea of cloning has probably split the world into those that believe it's immorally wrong, and those who believe let science take its course. I do understand most of the fear in human cloning lies with religion. It's seen as something that god would not approve. God created humans the way they were meant to be created and thus we have no power to change this, let life take its course. This section will weigh up why people can be both for and against the use of embryo cloning.

          For:

          Perhaps the biggest pro in cloning is its ability to help find and cure diseases such as Parkinson disease, which uses stem cell research to find the missing DNA links that would help provide a cure if not for this generation then for the next. Many countries, including the US have strongly condemned the use of stem cell research; I however am strongly against this. Having an uncle in America who suffers from Parkinson's it pains me to watch how much suffering he has to go through on a daily basis, when I recently visited America, it was evident, he couldn't come sightseeing with us, his speech impediment and in some cases his lack of mobility. So why is it, we have a plausible technique that could help find a possible reason as to why he suffers from this illness. Would this not be a good thing, research could help millions of people worldwide, if not in this generation than the next. However, this politically apposed approach, which is seen as against gods, will cannot be done because it's unethical. What's unethical is that these sufferers do not have their rights and opinions approved.
          Other illnesses such as heart disease and cancer can also be studied further if we were able to use stem cell research.

          Against:

          The arguments for the lack of faith in this approach stem to more of a religious matter in my opinion, but to some extent some scientist also believe their can be some serious downsides if we were to go ahead with human cloning.
          The main argument against this process is largely due to their beliefs on whether one can sufficiently label and embryo a human life organism. Most people, who believe in pro life, argue that life itself is created at the first stages of conception; thereby somatic nuclear cell transfer that allows us to carry out stem cell research is in sense a human life. The process of creating and egg during fertilisation is similar to that of when we carry at therapeutic cloning. In order to extract the cells for research we are in a sense killing the embryo and therefore taking a life. So therefore in the process of curing diseases it is said that we are killing a human life to obtain such goal. This idea can however be different depending upon one's own personal faith and belief.
          Some have also referred to the case of Dolly the sheep, after living for 6 years she evidently died from a tumour. The idea being that the process of cloning is still very risky and the concerns far outweigh the positive. Much research into cell cloning has found that the process can create tumours, and the body can also reject the cell.

          At present some 30% of Americans feel cloning should be stopped full stop. However, they do justify the cloning of food. People's personal beliefs are important, but can we not get an even perspective of human cloning.
          Im actually for the use of human cloning, science has paved the way for so many of lives greatness, faith is something everyone has and we cannot question it. However was may be unethical and UN Christian of some maybe a miracle to another. Having supported the stem cell research I feel it could pave way a new method of one day finding a cure. We have to accept the risks which are most defiantly evident, however as humans evolve isn't it just a matter of time before we can see a full use of human cloning.
          The process of human cloning is banned in most countries, partially those with strong religious ties. However if monitored and researched properly can we not suggest a common ground. There is a general bad feeling towards cloning, the most common being its not in gods will, what god has given you is what he was intending for you.
          Most people see this as something out of a science fiction movie; it's most natural therefore it's wrong. Could we not therefore say fertility treatment is wrong, because it's not a natural way of making a human life?
          Current Law on Cloning Humans:

          Most countries around the World have a strong rule against human cloning, and more to the point cloning of any kind. The US has banned the government of investing money into the research of such matter. This would mean no schools; universities or public institutions could research the matter. Likewise in the UK and most EU states the matter is widely not discussed.

          Animals vs. Human

          It seems as though most countries have no problem in implementing research into animal cloning, however once this idea moves into human cloning the subject it criticized. America is a strong supporter of banning human cloning, however in 2006, the FDA, approved a bill which meant companies could sell cloned meat to consumers without having it labelled on the packaging. So what can be seen as ok for one scenario is a no no for another one.

          It's a very tough topic to debate on, their can be no justified right or wrong answer, it's more to do with ones beliefs. But why can't we give this idea a chance, can human cloning be so bad?

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            14.04.2006 16:59
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            Cons of Technology

            I believe that we rely far too heavily on Technology and im hoping to present personal, professional and social dangers of Technology taking over.

            Firstly, i will confirm that by New Technology, im referring to digital/electronic microchipped technology used in society. To specify on the catergories, in terms of personal, i mean (intrapersonal communication), Professional, (Organisational Communication) and Social (Interpersonal Communication).

            Personal communication specifically refers to computers, Beauty products and Televisions to name a few. There are a few dangers of new technology in this area, so the cultural pessimists would believe. For example, increased dependency on computers and televisions not only takes away our ability to enteratin ourselves, obesity rates are increasing due to there being no need to leave the house anymore, with all the Technology on offer to us at home.Also, the increasing use of hair straighteners and body scanning are encouraging us to become self obsessed, an obvious danger in terms of personality and self esteem. Through the advanced and ever developing technology we are losing the ability to talk to someone face to face, therefore wasting the art of speech to indulge in text talk and emails, another obvious danger.

            Professional Communication is referring to that specifically used by companies and organisations. Obviously Technology is essential in this area, however the level of technology is far too advanced for the skills of the operators. This is therefore not only costing the company a lot for the technology, a trainer would need to be hired to bring the staff up to scratch with the new systems. The cultural pessimists would argue that at work, somneday in the future, all jobs will be done by machines and technology, causing a major fluctuation in employment figures, this is a serious danger to society. A company's succes and professionality can be automatically judged through the technology avaliable to them, surely this is unfair and creates a status hierarchy in business. (Marxist perspective). Self esteem can also be affected in the work environment with a lack of knowledge and understanding of difficult systems causing an employee to feel useless and incapable. This is a danger as these inner feelings often result in poor company performance and loss of morale.

            Social Communication is largely based on our interpersonal communication (with others). This refers to mobile phones, MSN Messenger, Email and Chatrooms. The ability to talk to someone in person appears to have lost importance with most now much preferring to log on a computer or text. A positive effect of this is that a global village is created, with us being able to contact those abroad and have a wider group of friends. However, with this global village comes dangers. Through chat rooms, personal data isnt needed, therefore this is an ideal environment for paedophiles to srike and for those unhappy with themselves to create their ideal self. This is clearly insincere and could create problems in terms of safety and security. Another danger with the use of mobile phones is that they can be tracked on a system, this is an obvious invasion of privacy.

            In conclusion to this that i have written, it appears that new technology is no longer a luxury, but more of a status symbol or point of identification. For example, it is now classed as unusual for a teenager to not have a mobile phone. This shows tolerance and dependence increasing.

            There are many positives for Technology taken from the Neophiliacs arguement such as new technology offering more choice and more individualisation. However, it appears that the cons of new technology meet or even outdo the pro's with their being a clear view that technology is ruling us rather than the other way around. For this arguement to change, these negatives needs to be made aware of and the government need to take more action (they have already warned the effects of too much TV and Websites (bullying, suicide)). However, it must also be said that parents need to be made aware and be able to act in protection of their children (censorship), however, this raises the problem of diminished privacy.

            In a final point, it appears that the cultural pessimists (the technological determinists) have a strong arguement in terms of new and developed technology.

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              09.04.2006 23:58
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              Always look on the bright side of life things arent as bad as they seem we are explorers after all.

              Im rather new to this site so bare with me but i like a good arguement i meen debate!
              Since the dawn of oor age man has struggled to do as much as he possible can either in a creative sence or distructive sense we do what we can.
              Basicaly thats what is happening now, we can clone, we can change the genetic make up of a strawberry so you have to chase it rather than pick it.
              We see an openning or idea and chase it down until we have it in our grasp and see if we can use it as a gift or weapon.
              (if you wrap it in a bow and give it away then it can be both).
              These days everyone trys to mix too much religion into everything.Yes it could be said we're playing god, but we are using the brain that god gave us,( its his fault for planting the tree of knowledge too close to us anyway), that imitation is the greatest form of flattery so it could be said that some of us are worshipping and praising god in the only way we know how.
              Everything in this world can go only one of two ways:

              1) in a possitive way where some good comes of it and life is improved.

              2) in anegative way where harm is done from which we can learn
              an either do something differently or leave it alone and never go there again( like certain parts of spain).

              Either way we'll never know unless we try and are not the best lessons in life the hardest ones? the failures?

              Im just one man i believe what i want to and see no harm in trying anything as long as it harms no-one or no-thing,( of a multi cellular nature of course).

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                21.11.2005 17:27
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                A definate NO NO at present

                I'm no writer, and I'm no philosopher so you might just have to bear with me a bit on this one.

                As I see it there are basically two sides to this argument and which side you fall on will probably depend on your beliefs.

                If you believe in GOD, which I do not in the conventional sense, then the probabilities are that you are against.I don't think the is hard and fast, but i do feel religion has a lot to do with how you view cloning.

                After all GOD is the creator, not the human race. I can't believe for a second that if Governments passed laws permitting cloning any limits imposed would be adhered too. I also find it hard to believe that there is not a lot of experimentation going on in this field that is not only illegal but immoral.

                Man is always pushing the boundaries of science; we are a naturally inquisitive species, and there is nothing wrong with that provided we set ourselves strict guidelines and adhere to them. The setting of and adherence to these guidelines are a major problem. Governing this research is a nioghtmare. there will always be someone somewhere prepared to break the rules, there always is.

                You could argue given there is a GOD and he made us what we are, that he also gave us the ability of thought, the imagination, the creativity. So therefor if he is all knowing he would surely have been able to predict that at some point we'd get round to cloning.
                This being the case then GOD obviously reckons that we are capable of dealing with any situation which may arise during the experimentation and implementation of the cloning process. Perhaps he did, and perhaps he thought we'd be up to it. BUT we are not are we?

                I seriously have doubts about this. There is the obvious conclusion that we end up playing GOD. Who lives, who gets cloned organs. Have you the money to PAY? Are you the right colour?

                Genetic engineering is not that far off from cloning. Picking the sex of your child, choosing it's colour of hair, the colour of it's eyes, etc etc. We don't know that doing this causes disastrous side effects. I think it is totally immoral. My beliefs are not based on my religious ones I just can't condone experiments on humans, or animals for that matter. If we have only to live 3 score and 10 so be it. Lets stop trying to make ourselves immortal.

                If you DO NOT believe in GOD then you will most probably fall into the pro camp, as yet I'm not 100% on either side but am most certainly leaning towards the anti camp.

                Some of the argument that cloning is of benefit to mankind are pretty feeble in my mind, but some have a good case. For example organ cloning. I know this would be of enormous benefit, but there as to many ifs and buts. I do not see it as a necessity. Sure there are lots of reasons why we should clone but we shouldn't be doing it just because we can. It would be great if some-one lost an arm in an accident and we could just clone one and refit it. But some-how this just doesn't seem right to me. They just would not be able to control it and it would become far more than organ cloning.

                There are far more important issues to be sorted out before we go anywhere near this topic. OK Dolly the sheep was one fascinating step in mans enthusiasm to extend his knowledge, but is it ethical.

                If we must do genetic or cloning experiments let it be on food , lets wipe out world starvation, but let us be 120% SURE AND SAFE IN WHAT WE ARE DOING.I see this as the way forward.

                As for cloning entire persons this is a definite NO NO. The possibilities in exploiting this are unthinkable.

                No I have to say that if I had to cast a vote now it would be anti-cloning. I cannot see any justification for it at present, perhaps sometime in the future and I mean the future.There would have to be some cast iron securities in place, and I cannot see how this would be policed.So for me it must be stopped.

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                  28.04.2005 01:56
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                  • "Hard to regulate/fund"

                  * * *

                  In this review I will be addressing the issues concerned with ‘ordering’ a designer baby. I aim to address the ethnical and scientific arguments as well as analyzing statistical and opinionated evidence on the subject. Personally I would not be liable to purchase a baby that although is genetically assured to be perfect, I feel it need not be artificially modified to suit the needs and stereotypically ‘perfect’ desires of humankind. If there ever were an age where people were able to ‘purchase’ a baby that looked and was made up to the specification of the person behind the dollar, society in my opinion would be bringing forward a market where human beings would be altered for money. I hope that this is really not what civilization wants, that we could lower ourselves to abusing science for the interests of ourselves, rather than using it constructively in an area where our race is not experimented.

                  To clarify the definition of a designer baby, the meaning itself is for a newborn to genetically have ‘traits’ that make it desirable for the parents. They will be able to have more control over how their child will develop and appear as well as being able to assess its biological make-up and alter any gene etc that may carry disease. There are numerous scientific techniques and procedures that have made the art of creating a designer baby possible. These are in the fields of Reproductive, Genetic and Eugenic technologies.

                  The primary advancement in genetics came as many couples turned to ‘in vitro fertilization’ to treat their infertility dilemmas. The first ‘test tube’ baby was created in 1983 in the North East of America, Yale. Here the process of conception was made possible to take place out of the womb. Normally fertilization occurs in the fallopian tube when the sperm and the egg unite to form an embryo that eventually will develop to form a fully developed fetus within nine months.

                  IVF treatment involves the female being given hormones that stimulate growth of ovaries. Then the physician will then inject the patient to finalize the ripening of the ovaries, also judging the likely time to arrange to retrieve the developed egg. The egg is taken in a separate process after obtaining and analyzing blood test results and ultrasound scans. They are then taken and the sperm of the male partner is added to the developed eggs then left under optimum laboratory conditions to successfully divide, forming embryos. Five days later the successfully developed eggs are re-inserted into the woman’s vagina to continue to birth.

                  This process created the ability to screen and examine embryonic cells in terms of their DNA structure. The way that this relates to ‘designer’ babies is that DNA can be identified and the baby can be chosen to be a certain sex and have an estimate on its chance of survival. Science argues that this is the best possible way for childless parents to conceive.
                  However I believe that we are not ready, and may not ever be ready to take the responsibility in ensuring that the birth of a child that is decided by genetic factors. It is objectionable to say that although a human being may not have a fully functional body, that it ought not to deserve a chance to live and be loved by a family. In terms of society, people can recall that there are persons such as the influential leader; Hitler who believed that a person with blonde hair and blue eyes was the ‘Supreme Being’. Personally this shows that there will always be the discrimination that could lead to the screening process fuelling and breeding racial hatred and racist preferences for a child. I would argue that the life of unwanted embryos would be inhumane to be frozen or sold for desperate couples to adopt. This is in effect abusing the gift that life has, the way that one child may be conceived but have other equally successful embryos left unwanted and not cared for. Conventional conception would not let an embryo be frozen or stored for somebody else.

                  The eradication of disease seems to be a beneficial item to mankind… But if you recall in 1980 how people worldwide were cured of the disease smallpox, by the vaccination in the form of a mild illness – chickenpox. Diseases are scientifically proven to also be beneficial, as those who are exposed to contamination and germs at an early age have been less susceptible to common allergies such as asthma and hay fever. The body’s immune system will be affected if there were no diseases that you encountered and did not recognize. Our very functioning and being able to have defense against the viruses and germs involve being exposed to a certain amount of them to have an effective immune system.
                  I believe that although Genetics may make headway in finding genetic replacements for diseases that lack a functional gene, the way this has been artificially created may result in an increase of cancerous cells that may behave abnormally. Doctors are already struggling under the amount of diseases we have now, over a million for humans. Except the modifying of genes could increase the amount of disease on the planet, some of which we may not even have the knowledge or time to understand and erradicate. The other factor that will be concerning is how quickly genetically modified cells can spread, we have no way of stopping this should a fatal error be made. After all we are humans, and humankind is renowned for our tendencies in making errors.

                  Recently in Britain our MP’s have been debating whether to allow IVF couples to choose the gender of their baby following a report. Labour MP Geraldine Smith refused to back the report on allowing IVF treatment saying to the Daily Mail that they had completely forgotten about ideas of humane, religious or philisophical arguments.
                  However, some cases where gene therapy has been successful are in the breakthrough with the disease Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). This disease affected many people and has since had no understanding and no cure known. This disease can be inherited or developed through an unexpected mutation of the gene SOD1 that produces the enzyme superoxide dismutase. The mutation itself is known as a "toxic gain-of-function" mutation because of the fact that proteins produced also have a superfluous function making it dangerous. Symptoms are a result of neurogical sickness, the disease itself breaks down motor neurones that direct the muscles. Victims gradually detoriate their movement, retaining their mental abilites but result in being unable to breathe, swallow or speak. Scientists in Switzerland succeeded in silencing the defective gene in genetically engineered mice with ALS using the technique of RNA interference. This is one of several cases that back the claims that genetic engineering is efficient and helpful.

                  In a report on ‘Protecting Research Participants’ that agree to have genetic research carried out, the National Bioethics Advisory Commission stated –
                  ‘Scientific discoveries have alleviated the suffering caused by disease or disability. Nonetheless, the prospect of gaining such valuable scientific knowledge need not and should not be pursued at the expense of human rights or human dignity. In the words of philosopher Hans Jonas, “progress is an optional goal, not an unconditional commitment, and its tempo compulsive as it may become, has nothing sacred about it” (Jonas 1969, 245).’
                  Subsequently I find that this would be the result of producing genetically engineered designer babies. Jonas expresses this in a truth that takes the advantages of genetic engineering and puts them into perspective… With the ability to create ‘perfect’ babies, it should not be an obligation to do so. Human Rights and dignity would be undermined by the creation of faultless babies; after it becomes legal it will have to be policed strictly by people who understand the processes that can lead to illegal profit and abuse of humanitarianism. A market for babies could also be created, ones with blue or brown eyes, boys or girls.
                  The issue I would also like to bring forward is the parents’ value on the child’s life. How could they appreciate a natuarally born baby if they thought their baby was ‘better’ or ‘purer’ than the other?

                  Furthermore Asian cultures especially those in India strive to give birth to male children as part of generations of tradition. 1,065,070,607 is the current population as of July 2004, 1.07 males to a female are born. Natural birth would be affected as many would try to have more males than females. In the country itself there are on average more males than females. The lives of the country as a whole would be affected by being able to create a baby that was a boy.

                  Genetics itself has has never been straightforward, all apart from Galton who managed to decipher the way hereditary genetics was created. A documentary that was shown on the BBC, in the ‘Horizon’ series explored the hazards of Genetics and presented the argument on designer babies and genetic exploration. Here it brought up the failures that they encountered at the Yale labratories; how the sheep that had been cloned had managed to have significantly mutated blood vessels, some even being born despite not being fully developed. This demonstrates how unexpected and dangerous genetic science is in practice. Although there were some scientists that debated that it was going to be safe and highly overlooked, the fact remains that their claims hardly had any evidence backing it, I could never empathize with their views.

                  Gregor Mendel was an Austrian monk in the 1800s. His work involved hereditary genetics and he is said to be the father of genetics itself because his work is a base for the many different divisions and discoveries that have been made. From 1856 to 1863 he experimented in cross-pollenating a variant of the pea-plant family. He recorded and analysed his results to show the way selective reproduction worked. However evidence is to show that Mendelian laws of genetics when applied to agriculture do not reap the desired effects. Eugenics is an area of Science concerned with creating better species through selective breeding good traits, based on Mendel’s laws. They claimed that a marriage between people who had a ‘good genetic stock’ was better than a marriage with people who had a ‘depleted genetic stock’. However this lead to mental illnesses as these involved many genes. This reveals how the uses of simple recessive and dominant gene ideas were unable to forsee the unexpected increase in persons with mental disabilities. The human body is complex, and our understanding may be poor… Having the ability to engineer our children is not going to be straightforward in practice.

                  All major ethnic groups of all religions prize the value of life. They feel that creating a designer baby would be wrong, abusing how God managed to create humans. This is the classic reference of ‘playing God’ that people debate. I feel that this would be playing God, using little knowledge to try to recreate something so complex and take away several of its genes that we feel now that we do not need. Putting humans in control of sexes and producing perfect children creates an industry for this, and along with that black markets will also be created. The outbreak of one fault will in turn spread and affect our society that we have now. What happens if your order on your child was the wrong eye color, would you have to return it? It is simple ideas like these that will cause unwanted children, devalued lives and also major public outcry. In conclusion, the way that Science is being selfless and blind to the fact that there are ‘anomalies’ in every experiment. I feel strongly that the way designer babies have been suggested at a time where there are things like cancer and HIV that we still have no cure for; we cannot say that we are all knowledgeable on the way genes can be manipulated. Taking into account that the result it creates is irreversible,

                  I would not order one.

                  * * *

                  Wow if you made it this far you must be pretty darn bored :P hope you liked it

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                    04.10.2004 13:49

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                    Double jepardy - Advantages: Could borrow their kit, send them to work - Disadvantages: overcrowding, freaks of nature

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                    29.09.2002 21:02
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                    • "Dangers unknown"

                    The wonders of science never cease to daunt me. The way human beings willingly tamper with things that they may think they no a lot about can lead to consequences people never thought imaginable… Here are some pros and cons of Genetic Engineering In both Medicine and farming: Medicine Pros *Cures for disease such as cystic Fibrosis *The ‘bad’ genes could be removed *People can be warned about exactly what is bad for them *Better vaccines *Offspring cured from parental diseases by the removing of the effected gene Cons *It’s genetic manipulation *The consequences can be dyer-aids, forms of cancer etc *Its deadly-The out come is not predicted *Scientists don’t yet know the DNA structures properly *People can die by careless mistakes *There are unpredicted side effects *Scientists don’t yet no that Genetic Engineering (GE) is safe yet Farming Pros *Longer surviving plants *Bigger Crops *Larger quantities of crops *More money for farmers *People in third world countries may be able to survive better Cons *Entire crops can fail *The dangers of GE crop farming are still unknown *The ‘new’ crops can have deadly side effects e.g. carrying viruses that can effect both humans and animals After reading these, I’m sure you will be able to draw your own conclusion but I think that the reality of GE is that it is dangerous, dirty and no where near as beneficial or safe as certain companies claim it to be. These types of industries show little respect for the earth and are powered by their greed for profits, regardless of people’s health and safety. GE involves the manipulation of DNA from 1 species which is basically shoved in at random into
                    another by scientists who know very little of the DNA complex. Quote from the web page ‘GE, the dangers’: “GE is like performing heart surgery with a shovel.” As a consequence of GE, many people have been taken seriously ill and have even died due to careless mistakes made by scientists who are trying to play god. More over, GE is very ‘hidden’. Scientists could have already cloned a human and we would not know. Take a minute to think of that innocent child growing up, living with test upon test never knowing a normal child or adult hood. Scientists ill-inform us every day of their recent ‘studies’. Additionally, I think it is important for people to acknowledge the dangers and be aware of the consequences of GE…

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                      23.08.2002 08:03
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                      My whole life I have never been good at anything; School, my jobs, sports, everything, I have only been mediocre or poor. Except certain video games, I have excelled at videogames and fantasy sports on the internet. But I have never been able to do anything useful. That is why this subject inspires me, I knew a man who is excellent at gene manipulation, but Ironically he can not give his contributions to the world due to circumstances beyond his control. I guess the sub theme of this opinion will be irony. What is irony? I was teaching a basic college writing course one summer at the local community college and I wanted to explain irony as a literary device. I had the kids read O Henry and we looked at the "Gift of the Magi" where the bloke sells his watch to buy his tart some combs but she sells her hair to buy him a watch chain. I asked the kids some examples of irony, and they did well, they came up with them so fast, I praised them for thier insight until I heard the song, "isn't it Ironic by Alanis Morrisette on the radio on the way home and then I found the class had been making sport of me by just regurgating the lyrics to that song. I was made. But I found true Irony the other day. I pride myself on being able to intimidate people and businesses to do what I expect out of fear of a scene or physical harm. I was getting the brakes on my Jeep done when a big black guy came in and began yelling at the proprietor. He was cussing and using profanity and then he started saying he would bomb the muffler shop and kill the workers and customers, which unfortunately meant me. Sadly I was trapped as my jeep was up in the air on the lift, and I had just asked if I could get my book and cigarettes out of it and they said "no". I was trapped and my gun was in my car so I was in trouble. I wouild have pulled my gun on the guy, I know it, he was saying he was going to kill us all. Anyways he starts referring to himself in t
                      he third person as "the Nigga" such as, "The Nigga is gonna git stupid and go back to the penetentiary if you don't give my money back". I was intrigued and listened to his very valid gripe about his treatment there, he had already paid, they said his car would be done yesterday and now he was stuck 100 miles from home for two days. I started to sympathize with him, (Stockholm syndrom???). And We talked for awhile. We both concluded, while they began working on his car leaving me to sit in their decrepit lobby which was dominated by a disassembled Harley, for three hours. But when I listened to Larry I discovered that he had been screwed and had every right to be mad. So what is ironic about this? The fact that the owner should of got his ass kicked, so why is that ironic? Because the owner had no ass to kick. He was chopped in two and was in a wheel chair kind of like the guy on Wild Wild West except this real guy had a big bag of piss hanging off his wheelchair that came from somewhere. I got all depressed, I thought I was the champion of complaining but this Larry guy showed me how feeble my skills were, as he got his car fixed before mine and a free oil change. So what has this to do with GM and cloning? It just reminded me of my Grandma's uncle (who wasn't like a real uncle, he was like only 4 years older than her). He was more like an older brother. He was an expert at cloning and all that but his work never helped the world. Rudi had been educated at the Best school in the world, Kaiser Wilhelm in Berlin. He was a great student, especially after he had his leg amputated from being bitten by a snake in Africa on holiday. I am not saying the snake bit his leg clean off, I am saying it got amputated from being poisoned. He worked at one of the camps that was set up for Russian former soldier who were then guest workers. He was a doctor there. He was into nutrition and the human body. His concern w
                      as that while so many brave German men were out risking their lives to defend Europe from Communism that all the slackers at the camps were living high on the hog off Red Cross meals and only contributing a meager 14 hour day working in the armament factories on site. He desperatly sought a way that they could contribute to the war effort in a more direct way. But prevailing political ideaology prevented the doctors from allowing guest workers to donate blood and plasma for the troops and this bothered Rudi. He saw the pampered guest workers as a prime resource for providing plasma for the wounded soldiers. Meanwhile he did research on the minimal caloric intake required for functioning of the human body and sought ways to create synthetic nutrients and vitamins. After the war Rudi was brought to the United States where he worked for the United States Army and shared with them his research. Afterwards he was essentially blacklisted from the world of science, as there were some very vindictive petty people who were very anti-German in regard to science, it was like his professional reputation was completely marred just for being a German. I often wonder if I will ever see it coming, what if my leader, GW Bush is the bad guy? What if he is the one starting WW3? Am I supposed to be able to sit here and ascertain that the actions of my nation are wrong? At what point am I to blame if my country does aggressive things? I worry about that a lot, especially when I think about Rudi and how he got shut out of research for what he had done. So Rudi ended up working as a nutritionist for a dog food producer. It was not glamourous or cutting edge work in his field, it was mere formulation of dog chow and testing samples to ensure that the advertising was accurate. I think he was bored with the work. I guess he had been thinking about DNA long before Watson and Crick had done their work and he had long sought a reliable genetic marker for racial traits that
                      would be more fair and accurate that the calipers and rulers you always see them measuring Ukrainian kids noses with on the War Channel. So Rudi found a particular interest in parasites as he wanted to ensure that his dog food did not bear parasites as it contained large quantities of offal and meat from diseased animals. He became instantly amazed by tapeworms. I think he was not entirely normal thinking about stuff. He began to refer to the host-parasite relationship as redistribution. He then got heavily into ringworms. I guess he should have been finding ways to eradicate them and keep them out of the Dog Chow but instead he became morbidly fascinated with them. He was overwhelmed by the simplicity of the modular type tapeworms and how it grew in segments. He determined that the structure was one of the simpliest organisms around and would be better suited for genetic research than fruit flies if it wasn't for the complexity of keeping the tapeworms alive outside a host. I think he lost it somewhere around 1987 when he was about 77 years old. He said he had cracked the genes of the tapeworms and was able to manipulate genes after he had managed to selectively breed monsterous varieties of tapeworms and ringworms. He was able to do genetic counseling he said. I went to patronize him and see his work the one day and I was aghast at what the man was doing. He had a clinic in downtown Columbus. He said he was dismayed at the dearth of volunteers for research in science and had taken to recruiting illegal Honduran aliens as test subjects. He always said, "Venn I Vas Yung ve hat many more peoples at za Kamps volunteer to help mit the studies, efery day ve had plenty ov people to want to do research now I haft to Pay zees people to do it". I saw stuff that blew my mind. He had developed a giant strain of Ringworm that he would attach to a persons belly. It would then grow outwards along the persons abdomen in
                      perfect 20X20 cm squares. He had all these Honduran guys hanging around his clinic talking Italian or whatever and Playing soccer and every one of them had these worms hanging off their sides, some of them were like up to a meter long and the guys would wrap them around their waist to play soccer. Rudy explained that the worm he had engineered actually thrived on fat and would devour the fat on a person. I was estatic, I saw the potential of his discovery to the weight loss community. It was like leeches they used back when, to draw off bad blood but in this case they drew off fat. He said the worm could be attached anywhere and would eat the fat on a person. He then showed me his ringworm studies. He had a number of Cambodians with ringworms hanging on their stomachs. It was sick. It looked like rolls of thick sausage on their stomachs. He said that once again he sought to metabolize fat but the ringworms took blood from the host. It made me puke. Then I did puke. Rudy took me into this little kitchen in the lab. It was like a kitchen you see set up on a cooking show (Damn the food network, they had the iron chef contest in France and this Japanese cook kept ripping lobsters tails off while they were still alive, what a bastard) it was all sterile and devoid of life, like coupons on the ice box and boxes of tea laying around. I knew what was coming. It was not bad. Rudy had extracted the DNA of Garlic and parsley plants and married it with the tapeworm. I guess it was practical, all even standard portions they were, easy to fry or bake. Rudy was triumphant. He proclaimed that world hunger could be cured. That all the fat people could now transfer thier useless, unsightly stored energy to poor starving people in the form of a delicous tasty sandwich. I thought it was too close to cannibalism. It was wrong. I mean when I was a kid the teachers always asked if we had a white stool and I would always say yes because my dad had this wh
                      ite chair that was an ottoman. I got sent home from school because my dad had a white chair, but it left me with the impression that worms are bad. And here he was growing them on people and cooking them to eat. All this twisted science and playing God must end. We must depend on the wisdom of the All merciful, the Benevolent to know what is right for us. Why would we let some immoral atheistic scientists play with the building blocks of creation? This is bad folks. No body should be jacking around with this stuff, we don't know enough about it to be playing with it, whether corn or beef. Nature has provided for us and we needn't pretend we have the wisdom to guide nature. Please help put a stop to all of this. Science is bad, it was bad when Copernicus was blasphemizing by sauying the Earth revolved around the Sun, it was bad when scientists tried to prove that Mice did not spontaneously generate from dry feed sacks and grain, and it was wrong when it said the soul wasn't in the Liver (how many people, good people have you met without a liver?) Just so you know, Uncle Rudy's research was ended abruptly as he was in a terrible car crash on May 8th 1995. Someone had tinkered with his brakes and he was haviing legal trouble anyways over some silly questions he didn't answer exactly correct when he emmigrated, he had forgotten that he was briefly technically a member of the SS, a one legged man, being a soldier? and there was a huge blow up about it in the newspaper and he was upset. He died and all his Hondurans ran off and the Dog food company shut down his lab in horror in just one day, the whole place was just gone. A huge building just disappeared overnight. It is bad. Don't play God. Ok, I will tell you what you wanted to know, It was like a cross sliced piece of liver in texture, it wasn't tough like beef, it was like liver. I think I would have used some olive oil maybe. But it was good, n
                      ot quite meat, more like a pudding I would say. The ringworm sausages were just awful. All fatty and tasting like sawdust or something. Rudy said if they kept eating rice instead of Big Macs during the hosting the suasgaes would be firmer and tastier.

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                        20.06.2002 15:36
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                        As much as cloning organs is a brilliant idea for medical purposes, I personally do not agree with the idea of cloning human beings. Take the cloning of children, for example: True, couples who have lost their kids would give anything to bring the child back to life, and that is very understandable - but by cloning that doesn't bring back a dead child (as we all know) - that merely presents a haunting replica of the child you once had. Do people not realise that by making a child from a dead child would most like result in another dead child? If the child died of a natural illness, then would this new replica not find themselves hooked with with the same illness also? What would the child think of himself (making the assumption that it is male)? Is it not rather disturbing to think that you are merely a COPY of somebody else? Is it not scary to think that you would not be who you are, nor would you look like how you look, if it wasn't for the dead version of yourself? It can get very complex. Is it fair on the child for him to be looked at like a human freak-show for the rest of his life because he is a clone - and not really a 'reeeal' human. People would discriminate, because many people would suggest that this human being (or 'product') should NOT have existed and people are playing God. Although I am not religious, and I don't belief in the notion of 'Playing God' - I just don't think it is fair on the person that will be cloned. Just imagine how they would feel. Oh - sorry, that's impossible.

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                          07.06.2002 23:08
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                          In May 2002 a new EU report, based on two years of studies in the UK, France, Italy and Germany, concluded that if GM crops were to be grown commercially in the UK, organic farming would be forced out of production here, and across (i.e. to the benefit of) Europe. Not surprisingly, its production (publication is probably not the word) was accompanied by a letter from the Director General of the EC’s Joint Research Centre, saying: “In view of the sensitivity of the issue, I would suggest that the report be kept for internal use within the Commission only.” In other words, keep it under wraps, old boy. Mustn’t alarm the riff-raff, what? I haven’t read this report. But I, and thousands of others, have seen a summary of its contents,* which tells us all we need to know at this stage. Its main conclusions are that organic farms will become so contaminated by genes from the new crops that they can no longer be licensed, or will have to spend so much trying to protect themselves that they will become uneconomic. Conventional non-GM farms will also be seriously affected. The report follows a study from the European Environment Agency, warning that genes from GM crops will travel long distances and create superweeds. It studies the effects of growing modified maize, potatoes and oilseed rape commercially on farms. It finds that, even if only a tenth of a country or region is planted with them, keeping contamination at a level that will allow organic farming to continue would be very difficult, if not impossible, for any farm-crop combination in the scenarios visualized. Moreover, it stresses that when contamination occurs every year through the widespread cultivation of GM crops in an area, organic farms would lose their organic status and face major problems in growing their crops according to EU regulations. Environmentalists have been saying this for some time, namely that it is simply not po
                          ssible for GM and organic farming to co-exist, and shoppers will therefore be denied the choice. The latter is not strictly true. Consumers will have the choice, as demand for organic produce is increasing throughout Europe, while resistance to GM food has persuaded many supermarkets not to stock it. But this organic produce will have to be imported from Europe. Does this matter? YES. Firstly, it does not make environmental sense to import food we eat from abroad if we can grow it ourselves. Think of the fuel costs, and impact on the environment, involved in transporting food from across Europe, from the USA, or further afield. Those would be wiped out at a stroke if your food is produced only a few miles away and you can buy it from your local grocery, eco-friendly supermarket or farm shop. Secondly, UK organic produce = more UK jobs. Sadly our Secretary of State for Agriculture, Margaret Beckett, who announced blandly last autumn that British agriculture would have to adapt or die, seems quite unconcerned at the increasing level of food imports, or to put it another way, the possible (or gradual) haemorrhaging of one of our long-established industries. And you thought the other Margaret was uncaring and out of touch? If you are bothered, Mrs B, you have a strange way of showing it. Look at the threat faced by a leading local supplier from my part of the world, Guy Watson, of Riverford Organic Vegetables near Totnes, Devon. He says that the introduction of more GM crops into the westcountry would spell the end of organic produce in this area. At present there are more organic producers in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset than in any other region of the UK. But within a comparatively small area like the westcountry, it would be extremely difficult to prevent cross-pollination if GM crops were widely sowed nearby. Measures to prevent contamination, such as monitoring and testing and staggering flowering times to reduce cro
                          ss-pollination, would increase the price of growing some crops by around 25%. This would price it out of the market. In 1998 there were official small-scale GM crop trials at a site near Totnes. An orderly demonstration of 600 people failed to prevent them from going ahead, part of the crop was subsequently destroyed, and charges were quite rightly dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service on the eve of the court case. (Ironically, both the ‘Daily Telegraph’ and the ‘Independent’ –an odd couple - have been united in anger at the acquittal or dropping of charges against eco-warriors in this and other cases). What, briefly, is the case against GM crops? It’s partly a matter of environmental damage, and partly the risks to human health. The health issue is a very convoluted one regarding effective animal testing (as an animal lover, this is something I find questionable to say the least – but let’s not drift too far off-topic) and the threat from allergies, cancer and other illnesses – which would take at least a couple of thousand words to go into fully. The environmental aspects can be summed up more briefly. Crops containing a herbicide-resistant gene will be sprayed to destroy every other living plant in the field, thus destroying all potential feed for insects and other wildlife. English Nature has recommended a moratorium on the commercial growing of GM crops, and as a compromise short-term trials are taking place. There is also the likely development, after several years, of ‘superweeds’, developing resistance to different herbicides by exchanging genes. Take the case of Mexico, where it has been found that 95% of samples have become polluted with GM genes, in some cases by up to 35%, demonstrating that infection by pollen drift is almost impossible to prevent. I could go on and on about the environmental impact. Suffice to say that our green spaces, ou
                          r meadow pastures, our native flora and fauna, are under enough threat already. At around the time that this report appeared, the Prime Minister was denouncing GM opponents as using ‘emotion to drive out reason’. Has he read Rachel Carson’s ‘Silent Spring’? I haven’t read it cover to cover, but I’ve absorbed enough to take in and agree wholeheartedly with the basic message. Just read the two-page opening chapter, ‘A Fable For Tomorrow’, with its bleak scenario of disease-ridden wildfowl and cattle, sudden unexplained deaths among the human population, withered and browned vegetation along the roadsides, and above all a spring without birdsong – get the picture? (Alternatively, there is an excellent review on dooyoo, courtesy of Jill Murphy). Carson died in 1964. Her warning was about pesticides poisoning the land, but since then science and technology have found new and not so wonderful ways of poisoning the land. Twice in the last few days (the first week of June), I have been for walks on Dartmoor (not far from Totnes). Getting there meant driving along roads lined with green hedges full of bright pink campion and foxgloves just starting to come out, and bluebells almost over for another year except on some upland areas. On the open moor, skylarks were in the nesting season; I saw several at close range, and heard them overhead almost without ceasing. On the ground, patches of yellow tormentil, blue-purple and red-magenta milkwort were growing at regular intervals, with small heath, small copper, green hairstreak and other butterfly species putting in the occasional appearance. Imagine a landscape, as Carson did, where these have been killed off. I’d rather not have to experience it as well. Finally, a quick look at what happened in Scotland in April. At the Liberal Democrat conference in Perth, Rural Development Minister Ross Finnie was defeated when h
                          e argued against the call for a halt to GM crop testing. Why? Because he said we had to accept European laws and allow the trials to continue; “we cannot be choosy about which European laws we accept and which we don’t.” Does this man blow his nose without permission from Brussels? That organic farming should be jeopardised, perhaps even wrecked in the UK, simply because a few politicians and businessmen are intent on smearing those who dare to argue with them as a bunch of tree-hugging Luddites standing in the way of progress, or because of what the EU tells us, seems to me quite wrong. * See ‘GM Crops Threat to Organic farming’, Geoffrey Lean, at http://www.commondreams.org/headlines02/0527-04.htm

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                            29.05.2002 02:04
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                            After much research and many hours of disscussing the topic at my debating society I have to admit that I still have very mixed feelings about cloning. Here are some useful facts that I found useful during my debates which helped many come to a further understanging of the topic: I think many people fail to realise that cloning, in scientific terms, started off being a natural phenomenon... identical twins, triplets, quads etc. are in fact clones! This is because they have identical DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), they are simply copies of each other. People often accept this since it is a natural occurance. However (as far as artificial cloning goes), there are many problems still associted with cloning that still, to the best of my knowledge, have not been overcome since the creation of Dolly (now many years ago). It has been observed by the scientists at the Roslin Institute (where Dolly was created) that she seemed to be aging more rapidly than 'normal' sheep. They concluded that this was due to the high levels of destruction to the telomeres (telomeres being little nubs of protein that protect the ends of the DNA strands; on each division of DNA, during mitosis, these nubs of protein become shorter and shorter until there is little or none left (at this point the cell 'commits suicide'.)) within her cells. There was already significant destruction of Dolly's telomeres when she was cloned because the scientists at Roslin used cells taken from an adult sheep. Cloning is still, not all that successful as a process. Although the actual process sounds relatively simple it's incredibly difficult to get it to work. There were something like 270 attempts made before Dolly proved that the theory behind cloning actually worked. It's also a long process and successful artificial insemination of the cloned embryo is required if it is to survive and grow into an animal or human being. Cloning could seriously re
                            duce biodiversity and reduce the gene pools of many species if it were to be used without strict guidelines. It also increases the risk of fatal DNA mutations although it is unlikey that these will be passed on. On the other hand I think cloning has provided the following advantages... It's allowed medical research to advance at fast pace. Scientists are now discovering alternative methods to find cures for diseases, because cloning is allowing them to discover more about genetics. Also, there are alternative methods of producing organs for transplant which do not involve the cloning of a person for 'spare parts'. (We have to remember that cloning people for 'spare parts' could be considered immoral since it is against human rights.) It is now possible to grow organs such as skin thanks to the technology provided and tested by the research surrounding cloning. The farming industry in this country could be helped greatly by cloning cattle that are definately BSE free. Farming in the UK may be able to get back on it's feet. Further and more accurate information can be found at http://www.roslin.ac.uk/ I hope you found this information useful.

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