According to the Associated Press, the FDA this week will be considering whether to approve a fertilization technique that could combine the DNA from three people.
The notion is to try to eliminate genetic diseases by splicing out “bad” genes and replacing them with good ones.
The FDA does not have a good track record with this sort of thing.
Because of the political nature of the agency and the often close ties it has with large pharmaceutical and biotech companies it is supposed to be regulating, some of its decisions have been dubious at best.
An obvious example is genetically modified food.
GMOs — genetically modified organisms — are plants and animals that have been modified with the DNA from other species in order to produce some sort of desired trait, such as less dependence on water, resistance to disease, even pesticide production.
GMOs have been on the market for use as food or for research and medical purposes for many years now. It wasn’t so many years ago, however, that there was a debate over whether to label GMO foods as such so that consumers would be able to choose whether they wanted to be part of an ongoing experiment. Guess which side lost?
Because GMOs do not have to be labeled, consumers get GMOs in 60 to 70 percent of what they purchase from grocery stores, according to Bill Freese at the Center for Food Safety.
Nearly all processed foods, some fruits, most corn and some squash are or contain GMOs. Even most milk, that childhood staple, is full of GM growth hormones. For now, genetically modified meat and fish are not approved for sale, but meat and fish fed GMO corn and feed are, which means you’re getting GMOs secondhand even when you eat meat.
Some people don’t know, don’t care. It all tastes the same to them, so it’s all good.
Some people eat paste. And dirt.
Many of us can taste the deteriorating quality of food available at our grocery stores in recent years, and GMOs have a lot to do with that, though there are certainly other practices involved as well.
More importantly, there is a growing body of evidence that GMO foods were approved for consumption far too quickly. For instance, bovine growth hormone that is present in U.S. milk is banned in the European Union, Australia and other countries because it may trigger early puberty, obesity and feminine breasts in boys.
There is also concern that newly spliced organisms can cause allergic reactions in humans, and they may harm other existing species as well. Pesticide-producing plants are inducing the growth of stronger insects, for example, which can then ravage crops more efficiently than before.
So now the FDA is thinking about GMO humans.
You can bet there is big money behind this idea, and you can bet the push to market whatever the final result turns out to be will overpower any scientific common sense or ethical concern.
A genetically modified human gone wrong, one suspects, will be a little harder to hide than an “off” tomato.
All that money the government plowed into embryonic stem cell research in the last decade has probably been building to this moment, because the embryonic (as opposed to adult) stem cells never worked, yet cultivating them involved developing new human cloning techniques. …
The wool’s been pulled over our eyes before.