Commentary By: Gordon King
So this is what it’s come to. Test tube meat? Synthetic hamburger? Sounds delicious doesn’t it? Not! Have we gone so far over the edge that our next meal will come from a test tube? You know we are living in the end times when all living organisms are now engineered or manipulated in test tubes. Plants, animals, fuel, babies and now our meat! What’s next on the world agenda? Hmmm….sort of reminds me of a movie I once saw…”Soylent Green”! Does something sound fishy here or is it just me? The bible talks about genetic manipulation in the days of Noah with the Nephilim. He also says that the end times will be like that in the days of Noah! In Genesis 6:4 “There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” And also after that, meaning the Nephilim would be around after the flood! I believe that the Nephilim are among us now and are playing a role in all of this genetic manipulation. What do you think?
A Dutch scientist hopes he’ll change minds about the viability of test tube meat when his first genetically engineered hamburger, made from billions of stem cells, is served hot off the grill.
Mark Post, the head of physiology at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, has spent years growing the synthetic hamburger from bovine stem cells, which his team turned into thin strips of muscle tissue before mincing them into a patty.
While the process has taken time and run up considerable expense – the project received $325,000 from an anonymous donor – Post told the New York Times he hoped the cost of cultured meat could come down in the future, making it a viable food source.
After conducting an informal tasting, Post gave the synthetic tissue his seal of approval, telling the Times, it “tastes reasonably good” and that he planned to add just salt and pepper before serving it, perhaps at an event in London this summer.
Post told ABC News in 2011 that he expected meat consumption to double in the next 40 years.
After an announcement last year that a series of experiments in the United States had resulted in the birth of 30 healthy genetically modified babies, genetics experts are now debating whether or not further development of designer offspring should be banned.
Just 16 years ago, the concept of genetic perfection was the stuff of Hollywood movies like “Gattaca.” Fast forward to just over a month ago, however, and experts were busy debating over whether genetically engineered babies should be prohibited in a session hosted in New York City by Intelligence Squared U.S.
Arguing for prohibition were Professor Sheldon Krimsky of Tufts University and chair of the Council for Responsible Genetics, and Lord Robert Winston, professor of Science and Society and emeritus professor of Fertility Studies at Imperial College.
Arguing against prohibition was Nita Farahany, professor of Law and Philosophy and professor of Genome Sciences & Policy at Duke University. Filling out her team was Princeton University professor and author Lee Silver.
Among the audience who were asked to vote on the debate question before and after the presentations was Jim Watson, one of the discoverers of the structure of the double helix DNA.
In his opening arguments, Krimsky told the audience: “Enhancement through genetic engineering of human germ plasm is a fool’s paradise and will lead to no good.”
His first objection to the research was the fact that it would require clinical trials. “No set of animal studies can ensure the safety and efficacy of human prenatal genetic modification. It is unimaginable that any humane, democratic society would permit such a trial with public or private funds; the risk would so outweigh the societal benefits,” argued Krimsky.
He further argued that traits being considered for genetic modification could not be simply enhanced by a modification of one or two genes. “Traits like intelligence, personality, muscle tone, musicianship … are complex and not only involve dozens if not hundreds of genes but are the result of nutrition, social and environmental factors, genetic switches that are outside of the DNA and the gene-gene interactions that occur in human cells,” said Krimsky. “Scientists and the so-called transhumanists who believe that it is possible think of the human genome as a Lego set, where pieces of DNA can be plugged in or out without interfering with the other parts of the system. Actually, the human genome is more like an ecosystem where all the parts interrelate and are in mutual balance.”
He also contended: “The idea of genetic enhancement grows out of a eugenic ideology that human perfection can be directed by genetics.
“The danger is not so much that it will work, but as a myth, it will have social power that can be used by those who have wealth and resources to make others believe that to be prenatally genetically modified makes you better.”
In her opening remarks, Farahany asked the audience to vote against a complete ban on the genetic engineering of babies and argued that there are many instances where genetic engineering is legitimately necessary, saying it “is no different in kind from the many ways that we already engineer our children, from the partners we choose to prenatal screening to the supplements we take that impact our children and their fates.”
She highlighted new research showing that administering folate to women during pregnancy reduces the incidence of autism in children but no one wanted to ban folate. “… I want to convince you that we already can and have taken the next step of genetic engineering of babies and that we would take a drastic step backwards to ban outright that technology,” argued Farahany.
Mitochondria provides energy for the proper functioning of human cells and about two percent of human DNA is mitochondrial. “About one in 5,000 babies born have problems with their mitochondrial DNA that cause rare but incredibly serious disease, including heart failure, dementia, blindness, severe suffering and death,” said Farahany.
The 30 healthy genetically modified children noted at the beginning of this story, she noted, were treated through mitochondrial transfer and they were all born free of mitochondrial disease as a result.
A complete ban on the science that could help babies in this case would only serve to drive the science into dangerous underground conditions that wouldn’t be as helpful if people are allowed to seek private help, Farahany further explained.
At the end of the debate which lasted for approximately two hours, the audience voted against prohibition.