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Old 11-21-2004, 04:36 PM   #1
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Genetic Engineering

Well here is a topic that hasn't been around here in a good long while, what are peoples thoughts on genetic engineering.

Is it a worthy cause to use such a tool to better mankind or is that reckless and playing god?

I want answers people
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Old 11-21-2004, 04:49 PM   #2
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Yes it is worthy , it is the future .
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Old 11-21-2004, 04:53 PM   #3
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Sustainable agriculture is predicated on a holistic, ecological perspective anathema to reductionist mechanistic science. Mechanistic science has been thoroughly discredited in the course of the 20th century. Mechanical physics went first of all with relativity and quantum physics. Biology was the last to go with the new genetics.
The new genetics is radically ecological, organic and holistic. That is why genetic engineering, at least in its current form, can never succeed. It is based on misconceptions that organisms are machines, and on a denial of the complexity and flexibility of the organic whole.
The challenge for western scientists is to develop a holistic science to help revitalise all kinds of non-corporate sustainable agriculture and holistic medicine that can truly bring food security and health to the world.
--Dr. Mae-Wan Ho, Taking Science Seriously in the GM Debate, 16 Apr 2000

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To try to understand disease in terms of genes and protein interactions is worse than trying to understand how a machine works in terms of its nuts and bolts, simply because the parts of the organism, unlike those of a machine, are inseparably tangled up with one another. Mechanistic understanding in terms of interacting parts is extremely unlikely to lead to the design of better drugs. For that, we require knowledge of the design of the human organism. And no amount of information on genes and protein interactions will ever add up to the complex, entangled whole that is the organism.
--Dr. Mae-Wan Ho, Human Genome--The Biggest Sellout in Human History, 2000

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The debate on genetic engineering biotechnology is dogged by the artificial separation imposed between "pure" science and the issues it gives rise to. "Ethics" is deemed to be socially determined, and therefore negotiable, while the science is seen to be beyond reproach, as it is the "laws" of nature. The same goes for the distinction between "technology" -- the application of science -- from the science. Risk assessments are to do with the technology, leaving the science equally untouched. The technology can be bad for your health, but not the science. In this article, I shall show why science cannot be separated from moral values nor from the technology that shapes our society. In other words, bad science is unquestionably bad for one's health and well-being, and should be avoided at all costs. Science is, above all, fallible and negotiable, because we have the choice, to do or not to do. It should be negotiated for the public good. That is the only ethical position one can take with regard to science. Otherwise, we are in danger of turning science into the most fundamentalist of religions, that, working hand in hand with corporate interests, will surely usher in the brave new world.
--Dr. Mae-Wan Ho, The Unholy Alliance, 1997



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Old 11-21-2004, 04:56 PM   #4
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I think GE is ok to a point & the worst case scenario is when it is monopolized by the big shot pharmaceutical corporates. Which is already happening, of course.

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Old 11-21-2004, 05:02 PM   #5
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What is your definition of genetic engineering in the context of this debate?
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Old 11-21-2004, 06:26 PM   #6
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Dr. Ho might be correct in asserting that genetic engineering may have unforseen consequences, but the sentence about mechanistic science being discredited by relativity and quantum physics is pure gibberish.
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Old 11-21-2004, 06:46 PM   #7
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I am saying everything from gene therapy up to transgenics and eugenics style applications for human beings.
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Old 11-22-2004, 04:29 AM   #8
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Originally posted by speedracer
Dr. Ho might be correct in asserting that genetic engineering may have unforseen consequences, but the sentence about mechanistic science being discredited by relativity and quantum physics is pure gibberish.

I'm not sure what you mean, but I'm guessing it is being read out of context, for when she writes "quantum physics" she is really referring to the theory that everything is interrelated. Hence the further quote on promoting a more holistic view of science, not just viewing humans as mechanisms. That, I believe, is the main thrust of the quote(s).

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Old 11-22-2004, 08:54 AM   #9
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i think ppl know where i stand on this issue, with or without pictures

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Old 11-22-2004, 09:08 AM   #10
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That is why genetic engineering, at least in its current form, can never succeed. It is based on misconceptions that organisms are machines, and on a denial of the complexity and flexibility of the organic whole.
I wonder what Dr. Ho's opinion would be of current GE successes. Golden Rice comes to mind immediately.

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To try to understand disease in terms of genes and protein interactions is worse than trying to understand how a machine works in terms of its nuts and bolts, simply because the parts of the organism, unlike those of a machine, are inseparably tangled up with one another. Mechanistic understanding in terms of interacting parts is extremely unlikely to lead to the design of better drugs.
To understand disease in terms of protein interactions is rather a reasonable approach. What causes disease? Viruses and bacteria. The disease properties of a virus or bacteria are completely dependant on the properties of the proteins that compose it.

In fact, it is completely impossible to design a drug without considering individual protein interactions. What will this drug do, if not interact with individual proteins? That's really the ultimate goal of drug design, to get a drug that will specifically and strongly interact with a specific protein and nothing else.

Mechanistic understanding of disease organisms as a collection of interacting parts is how drugs are made.

I wonder if Dr. Ho has ever seen a chart of the metabolic pathways. Horribly complex as they are, they are just a bunch of interacting systems. To suggest that they cannot be understood as such is preposterous.

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In other words, bad science is unquestionably bad for one's health and well-being, and should be avoided at all costs. Science is, above all, fallible and negotiable, because we have the choice, to do or not to do. It should be negotiated for the public good. That is the only ethical position one can take with regard to science. Otherwise, we are in danger of turning science into the most fundamentalist of religions, that, working hand in hand with corporate interests, will surely usher in the brave new world.
The ultimate goal of a scientist is to add information to the body of knowledge commonly known as "science". I must say, I happen to fall solidly into the catgory of folks that think that there is no bad information, just bad applications.

Take, for instance, the sudden interest in atomic science during World War II. What did this lead to? A more fundamental knowledge about the world, a new source of power, and a bomb that has the potential to snuff out an entire city.

Trying to stop "bad science" is impossible. The same basic principles create aspirin and phosgene. Science creates yeast that can produce insulin. The very same science can also create fast-mutating smallpox that'll blast right through a vaccine.

To answer the question at hand, genetic engineering is a valuable tool.

But I'm not saying that I'd trust it in the hands of of Monsanto or the like. When pure profit gets involved, dangerous applications can come from the best of science.
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Old 11-22-2004, 12:23 PM   #11
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That GE has an uncertain and perhaps ominous future, there is no doubt. I don't believe one can stop it.

For myself, I don't vehemently oppose GE. We've been messing with genes for centuries, earliest eg. dog breeding by monks. There are some boundaries that I won't cross, though, like organ pharming, which has happened already with the human ear being grafted on a mouse a few years ago. http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/issues/2001/6/News

What do you think of the GFP Bunny

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Old 11-22-2004, 12:46 PM   #12
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Growing new organs isn't genetic engineering. It just requires that a suitable scaffold can be constructed to support tissue growth from a donor. Sort of like biological construction.

The GFP bunny (in a scientific sense) is a fascinating proof of concept. I find the "transgenic art" to be more than a bit peculiar.

I think people have been able to put genes for the production of Green Fluorescent Protein in just about anything.
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Old 11-22-2004, 01:33 PM   #13
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This science stuff is way over my head.


I'm more of a humanities person. However if it will save a persons life without great cost, I say why not? But then I don't understand it very well so I shouldn't be making judgements.
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