James On: Genetic Engineering

Ear-spooning anyone?

DNA has puzzled scientists for years, but now they are getting to the stage where the scientists can control it. Soon (so they say) they will be able to change it.

I say "soon (so they say)" because genetic engineering is a very hush hush top secret don't tell the neighbouring country kind of subject. Therefore the governments (USA, we're looking at you, you're sort of on top of everyone else, and you're very suspicious, sorry Bill) may have got further than you know.

But is it morally right? I mean, nature's been sorting out this DNA thing for millions and millions of years, and let's face it, it's had a very high success rate. But now, one of the successes of nature, us humans, decides to have a go at it.

The thing is, this DNA lark is very very complicated. There are loads of 0s on the end of the number of "AT"s and "GC"s there are. Just showing off there. But any more information and my head starts to spin. There's "A", "G", "C" and "T", then there's "S" and "P", which, er, do something different, and er, "S" is sugar and "P" is phosphorous. All the others are nitrates. "A"s only go with "T"s and "G"s only go with "C"s. That is quite a bit of information. If you're confused, that's OK because I am too and I couldn't find any more information. A is for... no, it's gone. Can't take any more information on board. The scientists are doing much better than me, but they can't be doing that much better. The only logical way of seeing what's what is to get two humans, then two monkeys, then two dogs, then two fish. Then you can see what bits are similar as the species get more and more different. Maybe.

I just don't know.

The point it, we just don't know what we are dealing with here. One mistake could mean disaster. Who knows how much? No - one, that's who. The scientists only have one option to see if they've got it right. Put it together and see if it works. A bit like a lego set or a computer program. But there is a difference. Lego is inanimate. I suppose computers are, too. (Sorry computers.) Lego can't feel anything. And you know when something's wrong. If it doesn't look right, or when the computer doesn't work right. But it's less obvious with computers.

Mind you, if the creature dies almost instantly, or doesn't live at all, you can probably tell that it's wrong. But you fix enough problems to get it going. The creature still doesn't seem quite right, though. When it's alive, and squealing (or whatever noise you want it to make) in agony, it's going to be hard to work out what's not right. You'd have to kill it. But it's not really like a computer, is it? If the program goes worng, you press Ctrl + Break, change that line that line that line, then press F5, off you go again, problem solved. But your creature is dead. You get so far, and have to start again. Right from the beginning almost. And also the average computer file isn't 800000000000000 lines long. Yeah. Big number that, innit?

One genetic engineered creature dead.

One genetic engineered creature wasted.

It didn't deserve to live in agony, then die, did it? First it exists, then it doesn't. It won't have a clue what's going on.

The whole thing seems futile. They'll probably give that up, and just concentrate on existing creatures. You know, add a little bit here or there. They'll do it to humans. Might be quite useful:

"Come in. Ah yes, hello Mr. Smith. Are you okay? Good. Right. Where are we? Ah yes. Now, you volunteered for this genetic research, didn't you? Good, good. I know you were expecting a skin scrape so we could get your DNA, but we're actually going to try something a little more unorthodox. No it's not painful. What we're going to do today is grow a spoon out of your head. Okay? Oh, don't worry, we've done it before, and we know what went wrong last time. Right. Well, if you'd just go into that room down the corridor, the nurse will anaesthetise you, and we've got Uri Geller to do his 1, 2, 3, bend bit in case anything goes wrong."

I'm sorry. Genetic engineering is immoral. It will only be considered moral if they can make something useful, like bigger crops to stop famine, or kill diseases. They could make better food. Or better food animals. Like the turkey spider, so everyone can have a leg. Or corn that can produce it's own butter. Or honeybees. No, I mean bees made of honey. Hmmm... have you noticed how it's leading up the same crazy creature path again.

The trouble is, they've started doing stuff already. They cloned that sheep. What was that about, with the mouse that had a human ear on its side? I thought they'd stopped testing on animals. Lying gits.

A recent NBC questionnaire said "Should human cloning be banned?" Does that question need answering? You and your clone are identical. Therefore no-one would know who's who. He could be doin' stuff with your wife and not only would you not know, she wouldn't either. Also he may commit a crime, one that you'd get the blame for. He could nick your money. All these things point to him hating you. I expect he would. But if he didn't, you can always do alternate days at work. But that's very unlikely. How would you like it if there was someone who was not only very much like you, he was exactly the same as you, and he WAS you. Who really knows what would happen?

I've said it already, and I'll say it again: It's started, and it could end in disaster unless it stops. In fact it WILL end in disaster. Here is the final scenario:

We build robot people. What's that word? That's it, cyborgs. We build them to attack the enemies that we have, because no-one agrees on anything. They have metal endo-skeletons. A bit like the terminator really (but the cyborgs can probably be called good actors.) They also have amazing intelligence. The perfect person. Harder, stronger and smarter. Bullets won't even itch. Bombs don't work. Tanks... no. Not even nuclear devices will stop them. They'll be indestructable. But they still feel pain. A different kind of pain. An inside emotional pain. They're not real people. They don't fit in with society. Their parts don't fit, they've been cobbled together. And who's responsible for that? The human bastards. So what do they do? That's right, they fight back at us.

It was your own fault.

It was your own fault, you wouldn't leave nature alone.

Now you're all dead.

Killed by your own creations, your own toys.

For more information, write to your local president.

I'm done.


© 2008 Alpha Programming - Design by Marc Warne, GigaTux and Twofo