Put some butter on that baby!

FROM: Biotech’s Dark Promise: Involuntary Cannibalism for All.

It’s the latest way to fight stem cell research and repackage the anti-abortion crusade. Since stem-cell research has gained support over the last decade or so, the anti-science crowd has joined forces with the anti-choicers to rename and repackage the debate. Biotechnology is Cannibalism! I hope you read the article to absorb the full frontal assault on reason. See if you can emerge unscathed with your logic intact. It’s hard.

There is no way that using diploid cells derived from voluntary, medical abortions from the 60’s is in any way cannibalism. I respect other  opinions, but sometimes opinions are not fully informed. It seems that the far left and the far right and the anti-science folks are finding a lot of common ground. I’m all for labeling and informed consent, but I call BS on this article. I don’t know everything, but I do have a bit of educational background in science-biotechnology, specifically. I have cultured cells, inserted genes into them, isolated proteins and purified them from genetic material. It can be done and it’s not all mad-sciency! This article takes scientific technology and mashes it up into a big, fat pile of ignorance and calls it cannibalism. Just a couple of examples:

“Known as diploid cell vaccines (diploid cells have two (di-) sets of chromosomes inherited from human mother and father), they are non-continuous (like cancer cells), and therefore must be continually replaced, i.e. new aborted, live fetal tissue must be harvested periodically.”

Absolutely, unequivocally, untrue. Continuous lines have been maintained from attenuated stem cells for decades. If people don’t like that, fine, but it needs not be embellished to sound like there are hundreds of fetuses being harvested for stem cells. The writer references ” injecting living, aborted fetal cells or their biological derivatives into their bodies, or their children’s…” Again, completely false. That is not how vaccines are produced. All genetic material is purified from the vaccine. Vaccines need to be incubated in live cells, be it bacterial, plant, insect, mammalian, or human. That is the way it works. From all I’ve heard from anti-vaccine people, none of these cell alternatives are acceptable. If it’s human, it’s cannibalism; if it’s insect, you’re going to turn into the human fly; if it’s plant, you’re going to sprout a vine out off your butthole. So, back to polio and smallpox days, because crippling disease and early death were the good old days, before doctors and scientists started improving life expectancy with their little shop of horrors. Now we’ve got to worry about old age killing us. They’re even screwing around with that, trying to cure Alzheimers and stuff.

The article also warns against the dark menace of human cloning, referencing the legalization of “therapeutic”  human clones in the UK. This conjures visions of pod-people grown in incubation chambers and harvested for their useful organs. But no, everyone agrees that such a thing is morally repugnant. Unlike reproductive human cloning, the goal of which is to produce a baby, therapeutic cloning involves taking a human egg cell (discarded from fertility clinics), removing its nucleus, then inserting the nucleus of another type of cell into it, such as a skin cell. The cell is then artificially stimulated to divide and replicate. The difference being that this cell was never fertilized by sperm, a.k.a., what is needed to make a baby. Instead of a bouncing baby boy or girl, it will grow a sheet of skin for a burn victim, say, or spinal cord cells for a quadriplegic. Even using an egg, billions of which are flushed naturally from human female wombs every single month, is unacceptable. This, folks, is what they call cannibalism, like  the way the writer took actual scientific advancements to save human lives and cannibalized it into a really bad horror movie plot.

At the end of this farce of a news article, there is a listing of a “small sample of biopharmed organisms in development that could at some point in the future result in the inadvertent ingestion of human proteins (technically, cannibalism).” Um, technically, no…it is not cannibalism to ingest human proteins. Here is where I giggle uncontrollably and refrain from making a rude joke. Feel free to use your imagination.

Don’t mistake my ridicule of this article to mean that I don’t have real concerns about unchecked, untested use of genetically modified organisms in the environment or on humans. But articles such as this does a disservice to those who would argue for caution when it comes to new advances in genetic technology. It also feeds the rabid anti-choicers who would strip away a woman’s right to autonomy over her own body. Hyperbole and pseudoscience is nothing but a hindrance to rational discussion about the legal, moral, and ethical ramifications of a relatively new scientific frontier.

2 thoughts on “Children of the Corn! My response to Pseudoscience and the War Against Stem Cell Research

  1. Well said. Issues are complex enough without distortion. I have been bemused by those who question a process, but would be the first in line if what they are doing might save a life or make one materially better. Medicine and science has been defined as heretical many times over its history and things we do today are direct contradiction to previous heretical practice. Here is an easy one – doctors advertising it is OK to smoke because it relieves stress.

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