My topic is cloning and genetics, an issue that calls into question how far science can go in improving the lives of nature but what ethics must we cross to achieve that utopia. My intention with this wiki is to expose some of the ugly truths about this topic but and explain why we should take our time understanding this science before utilizing abilities that may go beyond our control

May 1, 2009
Preresearch entry- While Dolly the Sheep recieved the publicity (After 276 failed attempts to sucessfully raise a clone) and the public's attention born out of 'playing God', scientists had actually been attempting the process of cloning from a few years before. Dolly's surfacing however brought into a new scientific pursuit with potential with many medicinal and scientific soultions. Of course what is brought into question are the ethics of these actions; Is it possible to clone a human? What does this mean for endangered species? How can products be sold off of this science? Even after President Bill Clinton passed a law that made it illegal for tests in human cloning, we are still bombarded with revelations from cloning and gene splicing, with the possibility of transpecies or the potential of stem cells.
It's no secret that everything in our US society is commercialized, even genetics.
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Dolly the Sheep
There are debates today that rage about whether a person as a right to their own cells, taken from hospital tests, that may have natural vaccines but refuse to give them out as the doctors take the profit for themselves. Legal issues like that complicate whether cloning and genetics are for our benefit. Furthermore, this is science that is still shrouded in mystery; we know vastly little about the science in general. We can identify short term effects of gene splicing and cloning but we know little about long term effects, and those have led to disastrous consequences as a result. It has even led to odd claims like every single aspect of life is influenced bya gene, like the falsely diagnosed Master gene, which is said to have been present is past dictators as the gene influenced their behavior to be domineering and in control, which then led to the evolution of the Follower gene and so on. There were rumors circulating that blondes were becoming extinct and there is now reason to suspect that the ginger gene is not threatened at all from extinction. The information circulated around this topic can be incredibly detailed but untrue. The question is, why? It's to bring about funding to genetic labs, for the purpose 'to save our blondes!' or 'make the wonderdrug we've been waiting for'. It all comes down to money and even if the treatment is for the good of others, the price tag must have a number with a good amount of zeros with it.

Science itself is under threat of commercialism; Take the sudden sales of 'glowfish' for example: Originally Danio fishes, given an injection of jellyfish genes were supposed to be used for radiation detection.The danios, already popular species in the tropical pet fish trade, were recognized as a commercially attractive product. Despite the success and popularity of these ornamental fish, several aquarists protested that the aquarium industry was taking a turn in the wrong direction from the typical aquarist's oath that pet fish are an appreciation of care of an environment sepearate from our own, not a creature meant to be exploited for profit. Several geneticists also went against the notion of glowfish outrightly going against their own companies saying that this is also a bad step for genetic research in general. There are some imaginative statements that soon we will find ourselves in a world where an extra arm, or the genetically perfect baby you've always wanted will be up for sale. But evidenced by the development of glowfish and the dwarf cat strain, we already live in a society where genetic experiements are for display and sale and it's only a matter of time before more human products will be seen on the shelves if the labs are not restricted.

Danios turned 'Glofish'

Dwarf Cat, genetically cultured to have short legs

May 5th, 2009
"Facts of Nature cannot be owned"
-Michael Crichton
The new mama sensation to beat celebrity adoptions, is now Nadya Suleman, the Octomom. She made her own celebrity status in March after giving birth to octuplets, all of which were in vitro fertilized. Southern California became the center of attention and controversy when the assisted reproduction company screened the embryos to adjust their gender, eye color and hair color. Outrage came about of this 'designer baby service', and exposed the abuses of assisted reproduction. The US government only has voluntary guidelines for geneticists and related doctors, so the rules are there, but if a doctor ignores them, the government is like 'Hey whatever, if that's cool with you.'
The company responsible for Ms. Suleman's pregnancy took a huge risk assisting impregnation of eight embryos. Multiple births always puts the infants and mother at increased risk; no doubt, if Ms. Suleman was a few years younger, the birthing process could've killed her and the infants. The company was well aware of this and yet they took no restictions to her demands. Even with the recomendations, one embryo for a 35 year old woman, discouraged screening of embryos, they took no reported initiative to make the situation less dangerous. This has been done before shamelessly, in fact 80% of these labs ignore the government recommendations.
This issue has been brought to the attention of many scientists who insist the feds have to take a stronger take on making regulations. If doctors are not being responisble in genetic issues, only to get the bigger profit. It's perfectly fine to make money in a free market in this country but with something as powerful and controversal as cloning and genetics it's necessary to add restrictions. It's like adding warnings for viewer discretion on shows for FX, it's necessary to ensure the wrong audience doesn't take offense or become desensitized by a topic. Finalist3-700413.jpg

May 7th, 2009
Cloning is defintely a breakthrough in genetic science. For a time it had only been livestock that were cloned successfully. Of course the whole process of how far cloning could go was brought into question. Works like Jurassic Park and The Island explored the extent and possibility of cloning. It was no wonder it was nicknamed 'how to play God', essentially it was creating life. It is still a natural process so far, it's impossible to grow an embryo in a test tube; it needs a womb. In fact cloning wasn't much of a concern when farm animals were being replicated, it was more of the concern of cloning humans and whatever ethics would be involved in that.
Human cloning was addressed directly in the Clinton administration and later in the Bush administration when stem cells became the next step and cloning. Stem cells are found in all complex lifeforms, and are unique in that they can replicate like all cells but they can also differentiate themselves to have different cells take on different roles. While powerful, (for example nerve cells can be restored to replace dead nerves), stem cells are best collected when they are yet to be molded into new cells, thus they need to be removed from a young source. For humans, are source of stem cells can be best collected from frozen human embryos.
Of course this brings up a real stir of of opinions and again this falls into the hands of the government to keep it 'under control'. Stem cells have the potential to heal and save lives from serious health situations but in the process, the human embryo is removed of vital cells and thus is destroyed. In 2007 stem cells was raised as a liberal issue, the democrat house majority voting for the continuing research bill while republicans went against it and President Bush vetoed the bill down. He characterized it as 'crossing the moral line' with the killing of human embryos. 'Killing' is a strong word for this topic but when we are removing cells, the building blocks of life, from a developing organism what other action can you give it? Sure, saving lives is a concern as always, but it can be troublesome if stem cells are used for easily treated diseases or disabilities. It would become a money issue, those who would need stem cells may not get that injection of cells they need if they don't have the cash or insurance while others better off get it. And what after that? Does the human being become the science experiment of the day? Stem cell research can continue but it should be approached from an unbiased scientific perspective, the public and media is quick to glorify a medical phenomenon as the salvation we are waiting for and that becomes distorted that there can be serious consequences, morally and health related.
Recently in March of this year, it was discovered that adult cells could be replicated as embryonic like stem cells when 'wrapped' with specific genes that could change their structure. This type of research seems much more humane and effective then using human embryos, just one collection of cells from your cells next checkup can be potentially used as a life saver for someone else, but this would call into question if a person has a right to his/her cells and if they must be given share if those are to be sold for medicinal purposes. While this research is a step forward to push stem cells forward, we'll have to address the next issue of personal property in terms of cells and if those are sacrifices worth the effort.
Stem cells cultured in mouse, cells are fluorescented,2933,278877,00.html

May 11th, 2009

I believe a person has a right to their own body and that includes their cells. We have anomalies out there that have cells that can fight carcinogens but if they are able to understand that, then doctors should take advantage of that. There are stories of doctors that run the tests and take samples with the client's consent but there is never any clear goal or any told motive. When it turns out those cells are being put up to market, then the lawsuits start flying around, as the cleint's demand that they have a right to the cells and must have a share in the profit. A few samples of NK cells can reach millions of dollars so it's given a court case will be filed for these issues.
No one wants to become the guinea pig in medicine forever and become exploited for it. Our health system is still based on the principles of capitalism but there should be a degree of fairness involved; you should be able to trust your doctor and with the envente of genetic culture, that trust is wanting. Doctors are now acting on taking gene samples from their patients directly and that should automatically be a red light for the health system to make changes. The human body can be looked at from two perspectives, the first is a source of producing medication thus that is property law, and the second part as integrated person and belongs on a in personal domain. Basically you can look at it, respectively, as a thing and as a human; in law there is very distinct boundary between thing and human. Hungary has made it among their special crimes if a person's humanity is targeted for the sake of harvesting off a 'thing'. The same system works in animal abuse.

May 13th, 2009

In April, a fertility doctor by the name of Panayiotis Zavos had claimed to have cloned human embryos and iplanted them into woman's wombs. The total number of the embryos were 11, all of which did not result in viable pregnancies. More haunting is Zavos' commitment to continue attempting to create a cloned human. His procedure was recorded for a Discovery Channel documentary airing in the UK. Cloned human embryos aren't much of a surprise when it comes to stem cells, but Zavos is actually implating embryos which a large step in what many would consider to be a morally wrong. Zavos seems unfazed by the disppointment from the white house from the current and the two former presidents. President Obama has already denounced human cloning as "...Dangerous, profoundly wrong, and has no place in our society or any society". Zavos history does seem to go back to attempting human clones, carrying out the practices in an undisclosed location in the Middle East to escape the US ban on human cloning. The American Society of Reproductive Medicine staged their complaint, the typical warning that the process is unethical and clinically wrong (This poor threat states easily why so many fertility institutes ignore the guidelines). Zavos claims is work to provide assistance to infertile couples who "...Deserve the right to a biological child...". Apparently this gives a large client base who are hoping to clone their deceased offspring, and they willing to pay a lot of money for the procedures. One example is when a 10 year old killed in a car crash, Zavos was hired to take the cells from the morgue, then fusing those cells with a cow ovum to create a viable embryo, and he claims he would never implant this embryo because a human-cow embryo (I'm not making this up) would be unethical. Maybe for the right price it wouldn't... The problem lies with keeping the embryos sustainable. Zavos has made progress, but sucessfully cloning a human still has several years to go before a valid success can be reached. As mentioned above, Dolly took 276 attempts before she was successfully cloned and although a sheep is complex, a human body requires a bit more complexity and a bit more can be a lot when working at the cell level. Another problem lies in the ASRM statement that "...Infertile couples have alternatives for conception." In vitro, surrogates, they have other solutions. Zavos idea of the 'right to a biological child' seems very odd; are biological babies superior to an adoption? What makes them so special that parents go to so many lengths to have them cloned? Is it a matter of faith, that your God given right to reproduce naturally while paradoxically going to become innaturally impregnated? Again it is a topic that raises questioning upon questioning to how far we can go and what complications it will bring. I have no doubt is Zavos's goal becomes reality, if cloning becomes a norm of society even if the Vatican and the White House say nay, new complications would arise.
Now consider the following, what if clones become common in the world? Do we accept them as equals? Do they become their ethnic group with their own sterotypes and cultures? This country has never gotten over race and it still is having difficulty with it, so why add fuel to the fire? It's human nature to be afraid of this possibility and the plague of movies and TV show it. If an sociological anthropologist were to look at it, they'd probably notice that it would very likely clones would be considered a minority, a glaring flaw of both human society and science.

May 19th, 2009

Genetics is a still a young science. Learning about Mendel's pod plants in high school biology only gives us a simplified view of genetics and does not delve into how incredibly complex they can be, this in itself not surprising as genetics shape our traits and carry on evolutionary adpatations from generations before. To say that genetics is an easily controlled is a false statement. Like any experiment, things go wrong and in genetics when tampering with life, these can be serious consequences. Geneticists take extreme precautions against of the leading reason of cell culture failure: Contamination. Contamination can be a serious problem as outside sources can rearrange a cell culture, causing false readings and effects that scientists may not notice at first. Sometimes contamination just happens if the cultures are not well protected and the fertility institutes that recieve less funding are often stuck with this problem.
Worse still is the problem of developing cultures that target specific pathogens. They can go about making medicine but there needs to be caution when dealing with new drugs, especially those cultured from plasmids. Plasmid based drugs can feature short term benefits and on that note some are quickly shipped to market. Some work, but the speed they are put on the shelves is something to warrant worry. What about long term effects? Genetics can have a bad case of the gremlins when it comes to long term effects, from diseases to physical issues. If that's the case, plasmids that carry these can induce an increased risk of developing diseases that under normal conditions we wouldn't recieve.

May 28th, 2009

So now we're entering a new arms race against what may become the next number one superpower. China has not only been beating us on economic terms but is now trying to join the cloning bandwagon working towards cloning a human being. The article mentioned below sets the scene of what a genetics lab in China looks like. Obviously, even if it was legal in America, it doesn't meet the ideal conditions for culturing emrbyos and plasmids; the equipment is old fashioned, contamination is a distinct possibility, and the hospital itself is in pretty bad shape. On the other hand, this research is legal in China, the unnamed doctor does indicate although the US as the best equipment and procedure, the Chinese government gives the permission t olook on with this research, "China is the future."
A man by the name Tong DiZhou is something of a scientific historic figure to the Chinese, having his own bronze statue at Shadong University and an emblem diaplaying "Father of Cloning". DiZhou's fame is not unprecedented in this field, he cloned the first fish 34 years before Dolly was successfully cloned in the US and also created the first transpecies clone (An Asian/crucian carp). Currently, China is the most aggressive researcher of genetic engineering, mainly concerned with human cloning as a theraputic use ie: stem cells, instead of a reproductive use. Even with lack of professional sites, many Chinese scientists are able to convert any structure to a lab and there are no limits to the experiments. Though the ministry of science does condemn these experiments, they are ineffective because there is little follow through to bring down the makeshift labs. Many go under the guise of facilities holding the AIDS virus to keep out visitors. China not only displays a society bent on cloning but one that will go to any lengths to achieve their dream; they're very close, transpecies are a milestone of genetic engineering. China's government may a larger part to play in all this, basically if it meets the politicians' needs, it will probably be endorsed, even against the science ministry's stance. But China is a communist country and as the first human clone starts to become a reality there is a greater chance through democracy we can avoid mistakes of genetic engineering.

May 29th, 2009

With regards to Public Policy we really need to take a stance on how far genetic engineering and cloning can go. The federal government is doing what they can to keep this field in check, but obviously there needs to be serious reinforcement. Making a law that will require up-to-date reports on current experiments and breakthroughs should be called for, anytime the 'guidelines' are ignored, there should be serious federal charges for all in the facility. This quota of responsibility will prevent any issue against protocol to keep this science under control. Town boards with such facilities can be the government's hand and further support the guidelines with introduced state laws and specialized grants.
If the Federal government will not step up, then this issue will probably have to be left to popular sovreignty which I respectfully believe is not a viable option; there are few versed in this topic, and most voters may not understand what they are truly voting for even if there's a promise of medicinal miracle. It takes a long time for vaccines and medicine to be considered as solutions to disease and genetic methods should be no exception. Going back to how young this science is calls for even more effort to look into this science before exploiting its uses. If genetic engineering does become a form of treatment, I would suggest further medical related laws to ensure care for the patients, doctors, and scientists. It's no doubt this will be an expensive treatment, and it may lead to issues surrounding socialized medicine; this science has always been commercialized and glorified and that may lead to money troubles with patients that are all too eager to get the best care. We are living in a country that has the potential to have freedoms, but we also should know how to deal with limiting freedoms for our safety and for our morality.

Model Congress 2009

Committee: Health and Human Services

Principal Author: Kevin Ghizzoni
Bill No: 10810
Delegation: New York State Legislature

Title of Bill:

Genetic Engineering Information Quota Act

Be It Enacted By The New York State Congress

Preamble: Whereas scientific procedures involving gentic engineering and cloning are being irresponsibly used for commercial purposes rather than research and deeply thought-out health benefits, represented by the actions of fertility institues screening embryos and the commercialism of danios, originally intended to be a radioactive indicator. Information pertaining to how well related labs follow federal guidelines and breakthroughs have prohibited information that obscures the nature of the science from the general public. Let this bill enacted for the greater good for the American people and the field of genetic engineering

Section 1- At the beginning of each year genetics labs, colleges, fertility institutes and related labs will be required to give the federal government information about the experiments that took palce on the property.

Sub-Section A- These labs must provide the amount of state funding they were provided, other monetary supports, and where those funds were comitted to research.
Sub-Section B- The labs must provide what projects they have been working on in the year, the process of those projects, and the results of those projects.
Sub-Section C- Failure to provide to these reports will result in revocation of state funding support.

Section 2- All labs in the field of genetic engineering will be found responsible to only provide research tools and revelations from said experiments, by no means are they to be commercialized or provided to the public unless substantial research concludes it's usefulness to the populace. This usefulness will be evaluated by a Health and Human Services branch.

Sub-Section A- All animals and transpecies will be evaluated to be used for research purposes only
Sub-Section B- Fertility institues are disallowed to screen embryos to give gene therapy
Sub-Section C- Any research that goes beyond the morality of the US government i.e. human cloning or unauthorized stemcell research is strictly prohibited
Sub-Section D- If any of Section 2 are discovered to have been comitted, the lab will be shut down and the scientists will be required to transfer to another lab under federal watch for 3 months.

Section 3- All labs are encouraged to engage in research for the benefit human existence reagrdless of any profit it may bring.

Sub-Section A- A national budget will be provided to encourage this call for research

Section 4- A law branch will be opened dealing with genetic engineering disputes.

Sub-Section A-This law branch will assist in cases regarding to a person's right to their cells, lawsuits pertaining to gene therapy agreements between patients and doctors, fertility institutes responsibilities etc...

Section 5- This act will be enacted in 90 days