Thursday, November 12, 2009

Six Ways from Sunday

Two years ago, controversy erupted in Britain after scientists announced plans to create human embryos using empty cow and rabbit eggs. Critics condemned the mixing of human and animal genetic material, though scientists said the embryos would be destroyed after 14 days and would only be used to help them learn how to create human stem cells.

The ethical confusion, much of it media-created, over embryo and genetic research is based on one. single. problem.

The medical world, in cahoots with the media, will not, cannot say that a human embryo is a human being. Their whole universe would come crashing down on their wee heads if they did.

But this is the crux of all "ethical" problems with embryo and genetic research. It boils down to:

Us: "You can't kill people to solve your problems."

Them: "But it's OK, 'cause see, these aren't really people."

Us: "Prove it."

Them: "A fish!"

Us: "..."

The quote at the top comes from an AP story. It's just a little teeny example of what I've been banging on about for some years now: the total misrepresentation by the media, usually with the collusion of the researchers, of both the science and the ethics.

"Controversy erupted" over the creation of human embryos from de-nucleated cow ova because a human embryo is a human being, and you can't do that kind of thing to human beings. (It says so in the Nuremberg Code, just for one.) But the AP story follows the pattern of, well, lying, actually:

"Critics condemned the mixing of human and animal genetic material".

No, "critics" (that's us, by the way) objected to the creation of human beings from cow material.

"...though scientists said the embryos would be destroyed after 14 days..."

Once you understand that they are talking about "killing a human being", not "destroying" some random bits of tissue, you can kind of go from there.

But all that is OK, because they "would only be used to help them learn how to create human stem cells".

Us: "So, it was OK to use those Jews for medical experiments, because, after all, they were destined for the gas chamber anyway."

Them: "Extremist! Crank! Lunatic! Anti-Semite!"

Us: "..."

You see the problem, then, with a proposal to "study" the "ethics" and "public reaction" to the "mixing of human and animal DNA".

Ask me if it's OK to create mouse embryos and insert the human gene for huntingdon's disease and my first reaction is going to be to ask, "Where did the DNA come from?" If it's from the skin cells of an adult donor, then fill your boots, on your bike. Get me a cure for that big bad disease and hurry it up.

But if you say, "Oh, we were going to create some human embryos and extract their stem cells, thus 'destroying' them before the 14-day cut-off," then I'm going to start talking about Auschwitz medical experiments again.

The reason this problem can't be solved is that one, first, thing.

But all that aside,

any bets as to what the Academy of Medical Sciences is going to say about the "ethics" of such research?


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