Originally published July 9 2015
First the crops, now the babies: Chinese scientists genetically modify human embryos to create designer babies
by L.J. Devon, Staff Writer
(NaturalNews) If a group of Chinese scientists gets their way, the future genome of the human race will be designed and mapped out by their genetic standards. Human genetics might one day have to pass strict genetic tests and go through genetic modification to meet the demands of developing a more perfect human race. Chinese scientists are taking eugenics to a whole new level at the Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, confirming for the first time that human embryos have been genetically engineered.
Those who are angered at the current corporate control and genetic modification of crops should be even more furious at the experiments currently taking place on human embryos.
The Chinese scientists claim they have modified the germ line of several human embryos. The genetic changes are intended to eliminate the possibility of a fatal blood disorder in humans called thalassemia. This is the next step toward a society of designer babies engineered to possess more disease-resilient traits.
As scientists are already finding out with crops, altering genes can elicit unintended consequences. For example, GMO Bt corn was spliced with the Bacillus thuringiensis toxin, which was designed to repel the corn ear worm, but over time that worm population adapted and became resilient, causing widespread crop damage and the need for more chemical pesticides.
What are the unintended consequences of manipulating human life?
The impending eugenic societyResearch team leader Junjiu Huang assured the medical community that all of the embryos used in the research study were non-viable embryos that could not survive. The embryos were obtained from fertility clinics where two sperm fertilized one egg.
After Huang got the results he was looking for in non-viable fetuses, was he willing to stop there or will he take it to the next level? Will this kind of research ultimately be carried out on fully-intact, viable human fetuses - possibly those harvested from Planned Parenthood pathology labs?
Editing the DNA of human embryos is already banned in Europe, but other countries - apparently China and maybe the U.S. - might not be too concerned with the ethical grounds involved in fetal tissue research and the genetic modification of human life.
"This news emphasizes the need for an immediate global ban on the creation of GM designer babies," said Human Genetics Alert Director, Dr. David King. "It is critical that we avoid a eugenic future in which the rich can buy themselves a baby with built-in genetic advantages."
"It is entirely unnecessary since there are already many ethical ways to avoid thalassemia. This research is a classic example of scientific careerism – assuring one's place in the history books even though the research is unnecessary and unethical."
Shirley Hodgson, professor of cancer genetics at St. George's University of London said, "I think that this is a significant departure from currently accepted research practice. Can we be certain that the embryos that the researchers were working on were indeed non-viable?"
"Any proposal to do germline genetic manipulation should be very carefully considered by international regulatory bodies before it should be considered as a serious research prospect," she stated.
The experiment caused mutations in genes that were not supposed to be affected at allThe Chinese scientists used a technique originally discovered by MIT scientists. The genetic engineering technique is known as CRISPR/Cas9 and works by inserting a protein from a specific bacterium into the germ line of human DNA. The gene editing process mimics the way in which a virus is attacked in the body. The spliced bacterium snips away at the gene responsible for the rare blood disorder.
This technique has its shortfalls. First of all, what are the long-lasting effects of altered genes that are passed down through generations? How will the environment ultimately respond to these changes, and what mutations might occur?
These are valid questions considering that only 71 of 86 embryos survived the two-day gene editing period. On top of that, only 28 embryos were successfully spliced and an even smaller portion actually contained genetic material replacement when all was said and done.
To make matters worse, the CRISPR technique caused mutations in genes that were not supposed to be affected at all!
Nevertheless, four other groups of Chinese scientists are expected to continue the research. Lead researcher Huang says he is abandoning the controversial research to study ways to stop these mutations from occurring. How thoughtful.
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