Thursday, February 09, 2012
I'll start by saying that this topic is really messing with my mind and my emotions. There are a lot of questions that it raises and it's hard to find any answers. I usually am fairly good in separating my emotions from my convictions on an issue but with this stuff it gets very difficult.
After I watched the first 5 minutes of "Playing God" I was already wondering if should finish watching it. The topic seemed overwhelming and it is for me. Of course the "head in the sand" approach does not ever work, in fact, it is the most dangerous approach to take in the long run whenever we are dealing with uncomfortable and/or possibly dangerous realities.
So I decided to take this slowly and do more research.
For now I want to share some thoughts about the first topic in "Playing God", the one about transferring the gene of a spider. This gene is responsible for making a particular amino acid which enables the spider to make a safety thread which is stronger than any other known material and can save the spider's life at a time of threat. The gene that is responsible for this amino acid is transferred to goats that produce it in there bodies and it is harvested from their milk and made into silk. The goats look totally normal on the outside. Here is the difficult part: I like goats, I've owned them before, and I'm trying to figure out how I feel about these goats being used to make silk. The animals in the video were well-taken care of, well-socialized to humans and trained, gently handled and kept in a humane enclosure. I'm sure they lead a better life than most animals used for large-scale milk production or meat-production. But I'm not sure that their babies could safely drink their milk. There is something very unnatural about this.
Humans have used animals for their own benefit since the beginning of time and sometimes one could see that as a symbiotic relationship. Meat animals exist because people eat meat and I'm not a vegetarian. As long as the animals are humanely raised and slaughtered and have a good quality of life in a natural environment I can accept that their life is not perfect because neither is that of any living creature.
Few farm animals these days are naturally bred, fed and raised. But something about this is different. It almost feels more wrong because the difference in these animals is so subtle, invisible to the eye and possibly invisible in it's long-term effect. If I saw a goat with legs and tail of a dog or the head of a bird I'd somehow be less concerned because it's easy to recognize.
The small stuff is a lot more like what I just talked about in the book "Wheat Belly" - small changes that have huge implications we are not aware of and may not be aware of for a long time to come.
In the meantime the video showed how almost anybody can manipulate genes easily these days with minimal lab equipment and virtually no previous education or experience. Inserting these genes into humans only takes a syringe and very minimal anatomy knowledge and there are experiments under way to insert non-human genes into humans.
The question is if there is any way to say that the potential risk is justified because of the potential good that is possible. What is the best possible thing that could happen? Solving the problem of major diseases like cancer? What's the worst possible thing that could happen? The destruction of our planet? I don't have any of the answers. I hope somebody does. The only thing I think I can do is to listen to the only one who has the right to play God - God.
What does all this have to do with diet and exercise and healthy living? The reason we want to be healthy is to fully live our lives. We all need to find the balance between living in the present and enjoying the blessings we have right now and wisely investing in the future for our sake and that of the next generations.