When a Chinese scientist known as JK genetically modified two children a short time ago, indignation was (temporarily) expressed. "Scientists" rubbed their hands on the ethics of all of this, but I guess that's all an idiot. They were not unhappy with what was done but whenthat is, before the public has been sufficiently anesthetized.
The Chinese government reacted to the (transient) indignation of the world by arresting JK, claiming he was a rogue actor. Are you kidding me? China is the most technologically sophisticated tyranny in the world. Nothing important is going on there without someone of high standing knowing it.
Now, Chinese scientists have genetically engineered a macaque monkey to make it more human. Of MIT Technology Review:
"It was the first attempt to understand the evolution of human cognition with the help of a transgenic monkey model," says Bing Su, the geneticist of the US. Institute of Zoology of Kunming, who led the effort.
According to their findings, the modified monkeys did better on a memory test that combined colors and images in bulk, and their brains also took longer to develop – as do those of children. There was no difference in the size of the brain.
To inflate. A few years ago, we were promised experiments that would make the brain never be done In the mouse. They were right. It was done in monkeys!
"Ethics of outsourcing"
My friend Bioethicist William Hurlbut is often worried about "outsourcing ethics", that is, scientists and western funders are cooperating with experiments. conducted in countries with an "anything" approach, allowing them to participate in research that is considered unethical in their own country while remaining a good scent among their peers.
China fits this bill! For example, scientists recently gave birth to cloned monkeys, which means that a human reproductive cloning could be on the horizon.
Do not worry: scientists are alarmed!
Several Western scientists, including one who has collaborated in this effort, have termed reckless experiments to question the ethics of genetic modification of primates, an area in which China has taken a technological advantage.
"The use of transgenic monkeys to study human genes related to the evolution of the brain is a very risky pathway," says James Sikela, a geneticist who conducts comparative studies on primates at the university. of Colorado. He is concerned that the experiment shows contempt for the animals and will soon lead to more extreme changes. "This is a classic slippery slope problem and we can expect it to recur as this type of research continues," he said.
So, stop cooperating with the Chinese biotech sector!
Opening of Pandora's Box
We have almost no more time to prevent Pandora from opening his box:
- We need to create binding international protocols on ethics to govern biotechnology.
- We need laws that would negate any hope of profit by depriving patents and other protections of intellectual property of products or procedures resulting from unethical experiments.
- Western scientists must stop cooperating with everything that happens in the field of biotechnological experiments in China and elsewhere.
- We need international leadership to put this crucial issue at the forefront.
Ah, stop flapping, Wesley. As Mark Twain could tell if he was still here, everyone is talking about biotechnology, but nobody wants to do anything about it.
Photo: A macaque monkey, pensive, Kyla Marino, via Flickr (cropped).
Cross-posted at the corner.