As the global economy moves from industrial technologies
to biotechnologies, the building blocks of life have become
goods and wares. Genomes and chromosomes, genes, DNA's double
helix, along with junk bonds, stocks, commodity money (yen,
dollars and marks) are now legitimized currency for Wall Street,
the stock market and megacorporations. Movables and articles
to exchange, trade in, traffic, hoard, withhold and monopolize.
With each seeking his or her own commodity, imagine what could
happen! Laying human's self-centered mind and uneven hands
on the nitty gritty, creation's bricks and mortar, fiddling,
restructuring, redesigning, configuring, blending, mixing,
transferring, downsizing, oversizing, demonizing, dedemonizing,
merging and inventing new forms of life. A tempest in the
cosmic web. The great tumult stirring up, rattling and unnerving
four billion years of natural evolution, compressing millennia
of wonderwork into seasons, trimesters and deadlines.
With genetic engineering for an epicenter, biotechnology stands
to become a hefty $75-$100 billion industry, within the next
five to ten years (The Kiplinger Washington Letter, vo1.72,
no.31, p.1, 1995). A lure and a bait not lost on the avaricious
reckoning of a notorious powerhouse, the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers
Association. It weighed in dangling inducements and waving
enticements while threatening to go overseas if its wishes
are not taken as commands. Ever susceptible to benefactors'
largesse and bounty; always vincible to intimidation by patrons,
corporate sponsors and body language of the new party bosses,
the U.S. Congress did what it does best: heel and cave in
to special interests. And the new hymn played in the hallowed
chambers, an amendment to the ditty of pseudopatriotism: "The
U.S. cannot afford to lose out in the genetic engineering
race." While the band was playing, the fortune seekers
sang, the tempo quickened and rapid deregulation followed.
Genes in waiting, frightened, defenseless, a lucrative prey
to be plundered and ravished at the discretion of the indiscreet.
All dandy, all legalized, the ominous scroll has been tendered
and handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court. 1980, a leap year,
in Diamond vs. Chackrabarty, the venerable niners established
patentability of any living thing "under the sun made
Here we are, new gene combinations can be owned, and the living
vectors in which they are introduced can become private property.
Transactions of the deadly kind. The Patent Office opted for
an ad libitum interpretation of the Supreme Court landmine
decision, including cells, microbes, plants and all animals
on its newly revamped menu. Wonder and ponder. Discern your
countenance. Blush, and, in contempt behold the new age and
dare entertain the open-ended question. What about us? Ourselves?
Well! Well! Lawyers already did their contemplation and research.
And, here it is, a legal opinion: "Lawyer George Annas
argues that there is nothing to prevent cloning enthusiasts
from pursuing patents for genetically modified embryos."
Buddy, embryos are us. Remember? And you thought you were
safe in your abode! Hah! Like "the house that Jack built",
your progeny will be remodeled. And when you navigate the
wilderness, you reminisce, and you recall the rustic and bucolic;
your heart aches and yearns, and your vocals thunder, "Beware."
Beware, but they might not hear you. Wayfarer, the unthinkable
has become lawful, acceptable, doable. So, where shall we
go from here? And, what is on their agenda? Plenty, plenty,
weird stuff, snafus, terrorism at the molecular level, piracy
within the sacred walls of living cells.
All genes are viewed as venues and vehicles for new products;
the ecosystem is in for unprecedented savagery and abuse;
cells and genes of indigenous people, the desperados and descamizados
are glittering diamonds and pearls to be had by the moguls
of the new age supertechnology. The unholy flame has arrived,
and the race has begun to lay claims on cell lines and DNA
patches, samples and patterns. The profiteers are now launching
columns of well-paid gladiators armed with lethal microweapons
aimed at other humans, other animals, plants, other lives,
life itself, piercing, nipping, slaying, womb and bosom.
Seated on the bleachers eyeing the depressing scene, gathering
evidence, the Rural Advancement Fund International (RAFI)
accuses some scientists and companies of certain industrialized
nations of committing acts of "biopiracy". God!
God! Imagine that! Biopiracy!? Pirates of our times do not
have to brave the seven seas or even walk a mile. RAFI is
planning to take this most serious matter to the International
Court of Justice at the Hague. Does RAFI have the resources
and the stamina? Will it get a fair hearing? And if the verdict
is "Guilty", will governments of mighty nations
and the CEOs of supermighty global corporations heed and listen?
But, you can do something about it. Now. Don't sell your genes.
In my lifetime I have experienced some dreadful dreams. I
have witnessed horror pressed into massive doses of shattering
jolts. I have seen agony perfected and rained on others without
remorse or lament. I pilgrimed to nuclearly holocausted Hiroshima,
my leavings were verse and tears. I have learned with utmost
distress of the genocides of the American Indians, The Armenians,
the European Jews and Gypsies. I have noted with utter despair
the genocide of members of the Tutsi tribe in Rwanda and the
Muslims in Bosnia. Other large-scale atrocities weigh heavily
on my heart; grief-stricken, I mourn all; every one. Equally.
And, I have observed technology's train of gears, spellbinding
the human perception, blinding the eye of the mind, controlling
thought, replacing memory, dictating action and stunting the
restless creature to a pitiable, villainous lump of inertia.
From arrow to dagger to musket to rifle to guns, tanks, aeroplanes,
submarines, lasers, missiles and nuclear bombs, human's will
and ambition couldn't resist the bait. He used them all, sparing
none. None. What do you think is going to happen with this
one? Do you think he will resist, desist or abstain? Thus,
talk about it we must. Warn against its horrendous potential
we have to. Homicidal and suicidal, mankind might fall in
the trap, and Homo sapiens might become history. Who said
any species is immune from extinction'? Oh boy!
Truly, truly, biotechnology - genetic engineering in particular
- is the stroke that may splinter life's chemical code, rend
asunder the double helix, disrupt the formula and spoil the
Here are some genetic engineering products: genetic screening
of individuals could disclose information about their lifespan
and overall mental and physical potential, thus creating a
"genetic underclass" that may be denied employment
or insurance coverage. Oh! Yes! Habitually we stratify and
categorize, and many feel majestic and grand peering down
across the Great Divide. Now, genetic screening will do it
for us, finally confirming what many have believed all along,
that some. peoples' ingredients are inferior to theirs. A
"Super-race" is on the cards; they talk about it;
and when they do and get the means to do it, bet you, they
will. "Designer babies" are being considered to
fulfill dreams, expectations and ambitions of those who can
pay the engineer.
The dreaded Nazi regime toyed with the ghastly malignant idea.
A fixation on genetic deficits causing and explaining all,
from overweight to obesity to slimness, from anxiety to depression,
from sexual prowess to orientation, gentle airs, charisma,
poise, bad manners, crime, alcoholism, cancer, what have you.
A risk-ridden trend diverting attention from environmental
causes of illness, lifestyles, abuse practices and unhealthy
diets, all notoriously contributing to serious physical and
mental illness. So, let it all hang out, eat all you can eat,
drink to satiety, stretch and slumber; and, we will facelift,
tummytuck, liposuck, pinch your waistline, slip a balloon
down your voracious stomach, and shorten your redundant bowels.
You are addicted to food because you have the fattening gene
of desire, and we will get the silly, nasty speck out of your
system. Same goes for the rest of human foibles, failings
and self-inflicted wounds.
Cross-species transplants through breeding animals with human
genes to overcome rejection in human recipients are very likely
to transmit fatal viruses and induce malignancies. Based on
ontology, philology, morphology, metamorphosis, genesis of
diseases and scientific history from ancient to present, I
have no doubt that cross-species transplants will disfigure,
disrupt and open unseen gates of new diseases for which we
have no resistance nor ready remedies. The mad, wretched practice
of inserting genes from one species into the embryos of another
to create "transgenic animals" has already produced
moribundly ill entities with new shapes and forms beset with
terribly hideous diseases. Transgenic pigs suffered from gastric
ulcers, heart problems, pneumonias, kidney diseases, protruding
eyes. Transgenic Iambs have diabetes and die early. Transgenic
mice develop cancer all over their bodies, and miserable outcomes
happen to every animal species that is subject to this sick
Genetically engineered organisms could create environmental
chaos and may trigger new pandemics and major devastating
epidemics; a real possibility based on epidemiology, bacteriology,
virology and the basic scientific tenets of botany and zoology.
Agricultural crops designed to grow big and resist infestations
will eventually increase the use of complex chemicals. Pests
will always find new ways to ensure their own survival, and
the highly toxic compounds will find their way to air, water
and soil ending up in our organs and very tissues. Done -
I presume - with good intentions, transfer of insects, other
animals and vegetations from continent to continent, from
environment to environment has frequently wreaked havoc on
domestic and wild life. Short-sighted, we see the immediate
gain, forfeiting the big loss on the threshold and beyond.
Genetic diversity and balance within and between the species
are pillars in the venerable scheme of existence. Interdependence
keeps life's flow, beat and munificence. Planet's genetic
pool cannot be proffered to global corporations; life's stock,
bricks and mortar cannot be exchanged on the stock market.
This very serious matter deserves ample contemplation and
prompt action. Surely, if we see it for what it really is,
'we will act decisively. So, for right seeing, I shall ardently
work and passionately entreat. Then and there genetic research
may render help to all.
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