Dangers of Creating Synthetic Life

There was an article published on the Internet yesterday about the creation of synthetic life by Dr. Craig Venter and his group at the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) in Maryland and California. The title of the article is ‘Artificial life’ breakthrough announced by scientists, authored by Victoria Gill, Science Reporter of BBC News.

Possible Benefits of Producing Synthetic Cell

According to this report Dr. Venter and his team were able to develop the first synthetic living cell. What they did was to make the genome or genetic code through the computer and put this in a host cell. The host cell which is a bacteria, after the implantation of this genetic code, behaved according to the genetic code which they put into it. In this way the bacteria became a different organism according to the pattern of the genetic code put into it by these scientists.

According to these scientists who assembled this new organism, this method can produce bacteria which will do useful functions such as producing the components needed to produce oil, “eating” the surplus of carbon dioxide around us due to the absence of the needed plants, and producing new vaccines.

Possible Dangers of the Synthetic Cell

On the other hand some other scientists and ethicists (those who discuss the morality of certain actions) think that there are dangers in this development of a new form of life made from a synthesis of the genetic code. There are even those who say that more harm than good can be done by this invention.

There are three dangers I see in this development of synthetic life. The first danger is that this synthetic life can reproduce itself without control and we would be in danger of being overpopulated by this bacteria. An example in the field of agriculture illustrates this.

When the golden kuhol, a species of snail, was introduced to the farmers in the Philippines people were very happy. Now they had a cheap means of getting protein in their food because these snails were large and reproduced fast and were delicious to eat provided spicy ingredients were mixed with their flesh. They were also beautiful to behold because they were golden in color and the eggs which clustered around trees were colored in attractive pink. So the farmers put these in their rice paddies.

These golden kuhol snails reproduced so fast that they soon overpopulated in the rice paddies and ate the young rice. At harvest time there was no more rice to harvest, it was all eaten by this snail.

Now the rice farmers had a problem, how to control, if not outrightly eliminate these golden kuhol snails. They found out after much experimentation that these snails were resistant to the ordinary pesticides. So, they had to buy more expensive pesticides and they had to apply these in higher doses, because the snails developed immunity to the pesticides administered to them. Instead of helping the farmers the golden kuhol snails helped the multinationals who were making and selling the pesticides.

If this danger, too fast reproduction of the golden kuhol snails with the consequent destruction of rice, has sprung from an organic snail, how much more real is the danger from a synthetic bacteria which cannot be seen by the human eyes, unlike the snail?

That is the first danger. The second danger is from the effects of this synthetic bacteria which are not known yet at the present time. Again an example illustrates this.

When the sulfa drugs, like sulfanilamide, were discovered in 1932, people were very happy. These drugs killed bacteria and so arrested infections. These drugs saved countless lives of soldiers wounded in the Second World War. But later it was found out that these drugs had serious side effects. Some of these are: loss of desire to eat, allergy in the blood causing profuse bleeding, easy wounds, nausea, vomiting, change of skin color, fatigue, dizziness, diarrhea, headache, anemia, kidney dysfunction, stomach pain, swelling of the facial area, anxiety and depression, shortness of breath, fever, chills, sore throat, etc.
If this happened with a drug that does not touch the genetic code of an organism, how much more in a bacteria whose genetic code has been made by human beings through the computer? We have experienced already the bad effects of the GMO or genetically modified organisms. What more if the whole genetic code is introduced, not just modify some elements of it.

The third danger is that this invention can fall into the hands of men and women who do not care about ethics. They can use these bacteria to create chemical weapons of devastating magnitude. One coined the term “weaponising” these bacteria. Nuclear energy is good, but in the hands of non-caring people it can wipe out the whole population of the earth.

Because of these dangers we need to do more research about synthetic organisms and prepare preventive measures in case the invention goes wild against our health and planet earth.

Here are my other blogs which may be of help to you: for your spiritual growth for knowing more about spirituality or spiritual things for your health for earning some income from the Internet

Here is your link to a FREE ebook on true greatness, THE SCIENCE OF BEING GREAT by Wallace D. Wattles, This book will surely guide you to attain something outstanding in your life. The author says, “There is a genius in every man and woman, waiting to be brought forth.” Discover what this genius in you is by reading this book.

No comments:

Post a Comment