Who Cares About Genetic Engineering?

Dianne N. Irving
Copyright June 22, 2004
Reproduced with Permission

"Also, there is a current legal challenge arguing that actually the [British] licensing Authority, the HFEA, has no authority over cloned embryos, because the existing law defines an embryo as the result of fertilisation, and with cloning -- or cell nuclear transfer, the Dolly process -- no fertilisation has taken place." (Sarah Sexton, "New Reproductive and Genetic Technologies ...", May 2001, http://www.thecornerhouse.org.uk/document/medcon.html)

Definitions have real concrete in-the-flesh consequesces, especially when used in legislation on critical research issues, such as that dealing with human cloning and human embryonic stem cell research -- just two of many kinds of human genetic engineering. But who really cares?

For those who are weary of or uninterested in the abortion or human embryo research debates, perhaps they might reconsider their monumental apathy when they understand clearly that the issues surrounding human cloning and human genetic engineering affect us all. A great deal more than just the killing of irrelevant "little embryos" is involved. It also involves the cells dissected from those bioengineered embryos being transplanted or injected into sick patients in order to "cure their diseases" - cells that could well end up growing into all sorts of dangerous tumors, etc., instead. We are talking about desperate infertile women and men who line up at the doors of IVF clinics -- who could so easily be used as guinea pigs for some artificial reproductive technology researchers' curiosities and grant monies as well, and the women who could likely suffer horrific physical and psychological damage when these experimental embryos are implanted in them and start to go haywire. How does a woman really know what is being implanted inside her? We are talking about the purposeful creation of disabled and diseased human embryos just in order to study, and then kill or implant, them. We are talking about the impossibility of any of these "participants" in research being able to give truly ethically or legally valid informed consent because of the scientific misrepresentation of what research is really taking place.

We are talking about mutant and aberrant viruses and bacteria (and who knows what else) that escape labs where sloppy and ignorant technicians work, and infect whole geographical areas including people and food supplies, etc. We are talking about pharmaceutical drugs, vaccines, and products - even make-up -- pressed on an unsuspecting public for endless ailments, conditions and "health" aids, with no serious studies performed as to their damaging side-effects. No studies, no evidence. And we are talking about health care and insurance industries - indeed, entire state and federal budgets -- that could literally fold under the excessive economic burden of eventually caring for all of these human casualties.

These examples are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. No wonder so much of the legislation and "informed consent" forms concerning such research include "exclusions of liability" clauses for any harms or injuries that result. Everyone has a stake in these controversial issues, yet these are the human genetic engineering research activities that are being allowed to slip through giant loopholes in cloning and stem cell legislation. None of them are covered by our current laws.