SOC/BIO: Anti human genengineering efforts orgainizing

Date: Fri Jan 26 2001 - 12:25:33 MST

FYI, the following this morning from a radical green/luddite list I monitor:

Now that food biotech looks increasingly dead:
1. Time to mobilize on human cloning & human GM
2. About the Exploratory Initiative on New Human Genetic Technologies
3. Cosmetic genetics engineering could be near - DAVOS claim
4. Statements of support for human GM
5. Statement of support for human cloning

In the UK the charge is being led by The Campaign Against Human Genetic

For an intro to the many issues arising from human genetics see:

1. Time to mobilize on human cloning & human GM

Exploratory Initiative on the New Human Genetic Technologies 466 Green St. San Francisco, CA 94133

January 25, 2001

Dear Friends,

The new human genetic technologies are bringing us to the edge of a crisis in human history.

In just the last few weeks we've seen the creation in the USA of the first genetically-enhanced primate, continued rumors of secret human cloning experiments in Asia and the Caribbean, and a patent issued in the UK for "designer sperm."

Proponents of the "techno-eugenic" future celebrate a world of human clones and made-to-order designer babies. To go down this road would mean the end of our common humanity and open the door to a genetic caste system, with horrific implications.

It is time for activists around the world, and for international NGO's, to begin mobilizing to oppose the transformation of human beings into technological artifacts. If we cannot stop this, everything else we are fighting for--social and economic justice, peace and the environment--will be lost, forever.

On Monday, Feb. 26, activist leaders will be meeting in New York City to discuss the challenge of the new human genetic technologies and the need for international activism. We regret the short notice; it was only in the last week that this meeting was confirmed. This is a preliminary meeting; no final decisions or policies will be adopted. But we hope it will lead to plans for subsequent meetings at which representatives from many countries would gather to focus on substance and strategy.

Our meeting will be at Hunter College in Manhattan. It follows the major conference organized by the International Forum on Globalization on "Globalization and Technology," (Sat/Sun Feb. 24-25) which includes plenaries and workshops focused on the dangers of cloning, designer babies and techno-eugenics. (See <> for details.)

If a representative of your group would be interested in attending the Monday meeting and helping plan the agenda, or finding out more about it, please let us know by reply to this email. We will get in touch promptly and discuss ways your attendance could be made possible. If you cannot attend the New York meeting but would like to be involved in planning for it none-the-less, and/or for subsequent meetings, please let us know this too.


Richard Hayes Dr. Marcy Darnovsky Rev. Douglas B. Hunt Tania Simoncelli --- 2. ATTACHMENT: About the Exploratory Initiative

The Exploratory Initiative on the New Human Genetic Technologies is a growing network of scientists, health professionals, academics, environmentalists, civil society leaders and others who are concerned about the lack of effective societal oversight over many of the new human genetic and reproductive technologies. Proper use of these technologies holds much promise for preventing disease and relieving suffering, but improper use could have horrific consequences. We believe human society has the responsibility to support the former and oppose the latter.

Participants in the Exploratory Initiative are particularly concerned about technologies of germline genetic manipulation and human reproductive cloning. These applications represent threshold technologies that would undermine our commitments to human rights and social justice, and that literally threaten our common humanity.

Over the past months participants in the Exploratory Initiative have met with leaders of U.S. and international medical and scientific bodies, environmental organizations, women's health organizations, religious denominations, indigenous rights organizations, disability rights organizations, public interest research institutes, philanthropic organizations, academic bodies, legal academies, and other goups. In February 2000 the Exploratory Initiative authored the statement opposing human 'germline' manipulation (changing the genes we pass to our children) circulated at the Asilomar Symposium on Science, Ethics and Society, held in Pacific Grove, California. This statement was signed by nearly 250 scientists, academics, and others.

Over the coming months the Exploratory Initiative hopes to engage additional leaders and activists from a broad range of fields and social constituencies concerning the implications of the new human genetic technologies and the need for responsible controls. We anticipate that both national legislation and international accords will be needed to address the proper use of the new human genetic technologies.

We encourage all who share our concerns to join with us to help build this urgent endeavor.

Exploratory Initiative on the New Human Genetic Technologies 466 Green St., San Francisco, CA 94133 ph: 415-434-1403 fax: 415-986-6779 email: subscribe to "Genetic Crossroads": --- 3. Cosmetic genetics engineering could be near

Thursday, 25 January 2001 18:27 (ET)

Cosmetic genetics engineering could be near

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- A leading scientist at the World Economic Forum said that genetic research may soon be used for cosmetic or other non-medical purposes, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.

Speaking at the forum, George Church said people eventually might alter genes to pass on certain characteristics to future generations, but in the near term genetic engineering of those already alive would be possible.

He said the characteristics could be related to intelligence or looks.

Children or adults could be genetically engineered for more immediate effects, Church said.

"We may think of this as less of a threat because it is not inherited and therefore does not capture emotion in the same way as germ line changes, but it would have an effect far more quickly than genetic engineering that relies on procreation," Church said, and the Times reported.

He also said that immediate engineering would be easier than trying to estimate the effect of changes on a new embryo.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International. All rights reserved. --- 4. Quotes in support of human GE

Lester Thurow, professor of economics, Sloan School of Management, MIT: "Some will hate it, some will love it, but biotechnology is inevitably leading to a world in which plants, animals and human beings are going to be partly man-made... Suppose parents could add 30 points to their children's IQ. Wouldn't you want to do it? And if you don't, your child will be the stupidest child in the neighborhood."

New Scientist editorial: "The Last Taboo: If genetic engineering could be made safe, would you let your baby have it?": "...if you ask would-be parents if they'd like to give their children a head-start at school or on the athletics track, don't be surprised to find that the opposition is less than absolute... It would be a mistake to expect the taboo on human genetic engineering to last forever."

James Watson, Nobel laureate and founding director of the Human Genome Project: "...if we could make better human beings by knowing how to add genes, why shouldn't we? What's wrong with it?...Evolution can be just damn cruel, and to say that we've got a perfect genome and there's some sanctity to it? I'd just like to know where that idea comes from. It's utter silliness."

Gregory Pence, professor of philosophy in the Schools of Medicine and Arts/Humanities at the University of Alabama: "Many people love their retrievers and their sunny dispositions around children and adults. Could people be chosen in the same way? Would it be so terrible to allow parents to at least aim for a certain type, in the same way that great breeders...try to match a breed of dog to the needs of a family?"

Francis Fukuyama, professor of public policy at the Institute for Public Policy at George Mason University : "Biotechnology will be able to accomplish what the radical ideologies of the past, with their unbelievably crude techniques, were unable to accomplish: to bring about a new type of human being... Within the next couple of generations...we will have definitively finished human History because we will have abolished human beings as such. And then, a new posthuman history will begin."

Gregory Stock, Director of UCLA's Program on Medicine, Technology and Society: "Once people begin to reshape themselves through biological manipulation, the definition of human begins to drift.... Altering even a small number of the key genes regulating human growth might change human beings into something quite different....But asking whether such changes are 'wise' or 'desirable' misses the essential point that they are largely not a matter of choice; they are the unavoidable product of...technological advance..."

Lee Silver, professor of molecular biology and neuroscience at Princeton University: [In the future...] "The GenRich—who account for 10 percent of the American population—all carry synthetic genes....All aspects of the economy, the media, the entertainment industry, and the knowledge industry are controlled by members of the GenRich class....Naturals work as low-paid service providers or as laborers... [Eventually] the GenRich class and the Natural class will become...entirely separate species with no ability to cross-breed, and with as much romantic interest in each other as a current human would have for a chimpanzee...But in all cases, I will argue, the use of reprogenetic technologies is inevitable...whether we like it or not, the global marketplace will reign supreme."

ABC; Arthur Caplan is Director of the University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics: "Absolutely, somewhere in the next millennium, making babies sexually will be rare,"[bioethicist Arthur] Caplan speculates. Many parents will leap at the chance to make their children smarter, fitter and prettier."

SOURCES OF ABOVE QUOTES: New Scientist editorial October 23, 1999 / Watson: Gregory Stock and John Campbell, eds., 2000. Engineering the Human Germline (New York: Oxford University Press) pp. 79, 85. /Pence: G. Pence, 1998. Who's Afraid of Human Cloning? (New York: Roman & Littlefield) p. 168. /Silver: L. Silver, 1997. Remaking Eden: How Cloning and Beyond Will Change the Human Family (New York: Avon Books) pp. 4-7, 11. /Fukuyama: F. Fukuyama, "Second Thoughts: The Last Man in a Bottle," The National Interest, Summer 9299, pp. 28, 33. /Thurow: L.Thurow, 1999. Creating Wealth: The New Rules for Individuals, Companies and Nations in a Knowledge-Based Economy (New York: Harper Collins) p. 33. /Stock: G. Stock, 1993. Metaman: The Merging of Humans and Machines into a Global Superorganism (New York: Simon & Schuster) pp. 165, 168.

for more on some of these examples, see: -- 5. Statement of support for human cloning -- signatories include:

Sir Hermann Bondi, Fellow of the Royal Society Francis Crick, Nobel Laureate in Physiology Richard Dawkins, Professor of Public Understanding of Science, Oxford José Delgado, Director, Centro de Estudios Neurobiologicos Herbert Hauptman, Nobel Laureate, Professor of Biophysical Science, Sergei Kapitza, Chair, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology Simone Veil, Former President, European Parliament Edward O. Wilson, Professor Emeritus of Sociobiology, Harvard University,

Declaration in Defense of Cloning and the Integrity of Scientific Research

...We see no inherent ethical dilemmas in cloning nonhuman higher animals. Nor is it clear to us that future developments in cloning human tissues or even cloning human beings will create moral predicaments beyond the capacity of human reason to resolve. The moral issues raised by cloning are neither larger nor more profound than the questions human beings have already faced in regards to such technologies as nuclear energy, recombinant DNA, and computer encryption. They are simply new.

Historically, the Luddite option, which seeks to turn back the clock and limit or prohibit the application of already existing technologies, has never proven realistic or productive. The potential benefits of cloning may be so immense that it would be a tragedy if ancient theological scruples should lead to a Luddite rejection of cloning. We call for continued, responsible development of cloning technologies, and for a broad-based commitment to ensuring that traditionalist and obscurantist views do not irrelevantly obstruct beneficial scientific developments.

SOURCE: Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 17, Number 3.

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