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Hypnosis And Psychics Essay, Research Paper

Until the recent demise of the Soviet Union, we lived under the daily

threat of nuclear holocaust extinguishing human life and the entire

biosphere. Now it looks more likely that total destruction will be

averted, and that widespread, but not universally fatal, damage will

continue to occur from radiation accidents from power plants, aging

nuclear submarines, and perhaps the limited use of tactical nuclear

weapons by governments or terrorists.

What has gone largely unnoticed is the unprecedented lethal threat of

genetic engineering to life on the planet. It now seems likely, unless

a major shift in international policy occurs quickly, that the major

ecosystems that support the biosphere are going to be irreversibly

disrupted, and that genetically engineered viruses may very well lead

to the eventual demise of almost all-human life. In the course of the

major transformations that are on the way, human beings will be

transformed, both intentionally and unintentionally, in ways that will

make us something different than what we now consider human.

Regardless of the dangers, we are rushing full speed ahead on almost

all fronts. Some of the most powerful multinational chemical,

pharmaceutical and agricultural corporations have staked their

financial futures on genetic engineering. Enormous amounts of money are

already involved, and the United States government is currently

bullying the rest of the world into rapid acceptance of corporate

demands concerning genetic engineering research and marketing.

In the 1950’s, the media was full of information about the great new

scientific miracle that was going to make it possible to kill all of

the noxious insects in the world, to wipe out insect-born diseases and

feed the world’s starving masses. That was DDT. In the 1990’s, the

media is full of information about the coming wonders of genetic

engineering. Everywhere are claims that genetic engineering will feed

the starving, help eliminate disease, and so forth. The ideas and

evidence presented below are intended to help evaluate that central


Some scientists believe that, since genetic codes determine the

appearance, personality, health, and aging process of human beings, if

that genetic information in the chromosomes could be decoded and the

genetic mechanism were understood, we could potentially control and

improve our health, quality of life, and the biochemical processes in

our bodies. In other words, we could control our own fate. Also, we’d

be able to improve the genes of other animals and vegetables so that

they could serve humankind better. At first sight, these ideas seem

reasonable and attractive. However, careful analysis reveals that they

are based upon an incorrect theory–the theory of gene determinism.

Genes are often described as ‘blueprints’ or ‘computer programs’ for

our bodies and all living organisms. Although it is true that genes are

specific sequences of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) that are central to

the production of proteins, contrary to popular belief and the now

outmoded standard genetic model, genes do not directly determine the

‘traits’ of an organism.1a They are a single factor among many. They

provide the ‘list of ingredients’ which is then organized by the

‘dynamical system’ of the organism. That ‘dynamical system’ determines

how the organism is going to develop. In other words, a single gene

does not, in most cases, exclusively determine either a single feature

of our bodies or a single aspect of our behavior. The genes are

processed through the self-organizing (’dynamical’) system of the

organism, so that the combination of a complex combination of genes is

subjected to a variety of environmental factors that lead to the final

results, whether somatic or ! behavioral.

^a gene is not an easily identifiable and tangible object. It is

not only the DNA sequence which determines its functions in the

organisms, but also its location in a specific chromosomal,

cellular, physiological and evolutionary context. It is therefore

difficult to predict the impact of genetic material transfer on the

functioning of the extremely tightly controlled, integrated and

balanced functioning of all the tens of thousands of structures and

processes that make up the body of any complex organism.

What has gone largely unnoticed is the unprecedented lethal threat of

genetic engineering to life on the planet. It now seems likely, unless

a major shift in international policy occurs quickly, that the major

ecosystems that support the biosphere are going to be irreversibly

disrupted, and that genetically engineered viruses may very well lead

to the eventual demise of almost all-human life. In the course of the

major transformations that are on the way, human beings will be

transformed, both intentionally and unintentionally, in ways that will

make us something different than what we now consider human.

Genetic engineering refers to the artificial modification of the

genetic code of a living organism. Genetic engineering changes the

fundamental physical nature of the organism, sometimes in ways that

would never occur in nature. Genes from one organism are inserted in

another organism, most often across natural species boundaries. Some of

the effects become known, but most do not. The effects of genetic

engineering, which we know, are usually short-term, specific and

physical. The effects we do not know are often long-term, general, and

also mental. Long-term effects may be either specific4 or general.

What harm could Genetic Engineering bring? The main potential harm of

Genetic Engineering is associated with artificial horizontal gene

transfer experimentation. Horizontal gene transfer occurs commonly in

nature. Genes can be exchanged between different bio-species. But the

frequency of these natural transfers is limited by the defense systems,

i.e. immune systems, of each bio-species. The immune system serves to

prevent invasion by harmful foreign genes, viruses, and so forth, so

that the bio-species can maintain its characteristic traits and normal

metabolism. The Genetic Engineering method of artificial horizontal

gene transfer works by penetrating or weakening the immune system and

using virulent genes as delivery vehicles. That is, the gene to be

transferred is combined with a virulent gene to effect penetration.

This method allows harmful virulent genes, especially those with

resistance to antibiotics, to become widespread in nature.

Genetically engineered material can enter the body through food or

bacteria or viruses. The dangers of lethal viruses containing

genetically engineered material and created by natural processes have

been mentioned above. The dangers of generating pathogens by vector

mobilization and recombination are real. Over a period of ten years, 6

scientists working with the genetic engineering of cancer-related on

co-genes at the Pasteur Institutes in France have contracted cancer.42

Non-human engineered genes can also be introduced into the body through

the use of genetically engineered vaccines and other medicines, and

through the use of animal parts genetically engineered with human genes

to combat rejection problems.

Gene therapy, for the correction of defective human genes that cause

certain genetic diseases, involves the intentional introduction of new

genes into the body in an attempt to modify the genetic structure of

the body. It is based on a simplistic and flawed model of gene function

which assumes a one-to-one correspondence between individual gene and

individual function. Since horizontal interaction43 among genes has

been demonstrated, introduction of a new gene can have unforeseen

effects. Another problem, already mentioned, is the slippery slope that

leads to the notion of designer genes. We are already on that slope

with the experimental administration of genetically engineered growth

hormone to healthy children, simply because they are shorter than

average and their parents would like them to be taller.44

A few years ago a biotech corporation applied to the European Patent

Office for a patent on a so-called “pharm-woman”, the idea being to

genetically engineer human females so that their breast-milk would

contain specialized pharmaceuticals. Work is also on going to use

genetic engineering to grow human breasts in the laboratory. It doesn’t

take much imagination to realize that not only would they be used for

breast replacement needed due to cancer surgery, but also to foster a

vigorous commercial demand by women in search of the “perfect” breasts.

A geneticist has recently proposed genetically engineering headless

humans to be used for body parts. Some prominent geneticists have

supported his idea.

Since the birth of the duplicated sheep “Dolly,” genetic engineering

(GE) has attracted attention from all levels of society. GE raises

questions of religion, ethics, and ecology that are of great concern to

many people. I would like to share a little of my understanding of GE,

hoping that it will be helpful to everyone here.

Several companies are working on developing pigs that have organs

containing human genes in order to facilitate the use of the organs in

humans. The basic idea is something like this. You can have your own

personal organ donor pig with your genes implanted. When one of your

organs gives out, you can use the pigs.

The breeding of animals and plants speeds up the natural processes of

gene selection and mutation that occur in nature to select new species

that have specific use to humans. Although the selecting of those

species interferes with the natural selection process that would

otherwise occur, the processes utilized are found in nature. For

example, horses are bred to run fast without regard for how those

thoroughbreds would be able to survive in the wild. There are problems

with stocking streams with farmed fish because they tend to crowd out

natural species, be less resistant to disease, and spread disease to

wild fish.

As more and more human genes are being inserted into non-human

organisms to create new forms of life that are genetically partly

human, new ethical questions arise. What percent of human genes does an

organism have to contain before it is considered human? For instance,

how many human genes would a green pepper have to contain before one

would have qualms about eating it? For meat-eaters, the same question

could be posed about eating pork. If human beings have special ethical

status, does the presence of human genes in an organism change its

ethical status? What about a mouse genetically engineered to produce

human sperm39 that is then used in the conception of a human child?

Bioengineers often claim that they are just speeding up the processes

of natural selection and making the age-old practices of breeding more

efficient. In some cases that may be true, but in most instances the

gene changes that are engineered would never occur in nature, because

they cross natural species barriers.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a set of

xenotransplant guidelines in September of 1996 that allows animal to

human transplants, and puts the responsibility for health and safety at

the level of local hospitals and medical review boards. A group of 44

top virologists, primate researchers, and AIDS specialists have

attacked the FDA guidelines, saying, “based on knowledge of past

cross-species transmissions, including AIDS, Herpes B virus, Ebola, and

other viruses; the use of animals has not been adequately justified for

use in a handful of patients when the potential costs could be in the

hundreds, thousands or millions of human lives should a new infectious

agent be transmitted.”

Clearly, genetic engineering brings more harms than benefit. We should

use various channels to influence the direction of research, oppose the

cruel treatment of animals used in genetic experiments, and oppose the

policy of not labeling genetic engineered food products. However, care

is needed in reading scientific reports. Many scientific reports in the

United States have been exaggerated for the sake of competition. It is

advisable to observe clearly before offering criticism. On the other

hand, there is no need to worry that scientists might soon create a

horde of freaks and monsters. The genetic mechanism is an extremely

complex process. Genetic engineers will quickly realize their

limitations. We still have enough time to avert potential disasters.


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