11

Silence on Three-Parent Embryos is Deafening

geneticengineeringI will be honest. I am tired. I am angry. I am frustrated. This is likely an uncharacteristically emotional post because, after nearly a decade of writing about biotechnology, I am uncharacteristically horrified.

The UK has officially approved the creation of embryos with three genetic parents, and babies created with this technique are likely to be born within the next year.

This is unprecedented. The UK government has officially sanctioned the germ-line genetic engineering of its citizens and their decedents. British children (and their children, and their grandchildren) will be genetic engineering experiments. Horrifying.

Many experts are concerned about the safety of the technique. They think the invasive, cloning-like procedure is sure to cause birth defects. Even a well-known pro-ESC, pro-cloning scientist urged the UK not to move forward.

The reality is that any baby not developing normally will be aborted, and we will likely never hear about the “failures” of this radical experimentation. Horrifying.

Others are rightly concerned that this will open the door to more invasive and extensive engineering. It is not out of the realm of possibility, especially since the UK just changed the definition of “genetic modification” to allow this technique to bypass current laws against germ-line genetic modifications in humans. Future linguistic gymnastics surrounding human genetic engineering is probable. Horrifying.

But what I find even more horrifying is the silence. Silence from Catholics, pro-lifers, and the general public. I find it deafening.

In August, I wrote a piece posted to LifeNews warning pro-lifers to be careful where they send their donations for the Ice Bucket Challenge. It pointed out how money given to the ALS Association may, I emphasize may, end up funding one study that used stem cells from an aborted fetus. Close to 50,000 shares.

I recently wrote a post for LifeNews on four things people can do to stop the certain creation of genetically-modified kids with the three-parent technique: 257 shares.

A couple of petitions about the possible release of genetically-modified mosquitoes in Florida to curb the spread of Dengue fever got about 160,000 signatures.

But recent petition to the FDA, urging the regulator to prohibit the genetic engineering of human beings, that should have gotten millions of signatures only got 250.

Another world-wide petition to the UK House of Lords that should have gotten millions of signatures failed to reach their 100,000 signature goal.

On a more personal level, every five seconds I see a post in my Facebook feed about how genetically-modified food is bad for you, and yet when I post (repeatedly) about the three-parent embryo: crickets. I get on average 3 likes for any article about the genetic engineering of human beings.

But I post this picture, with the comment “#catholic problems,” and all my hundreds of friends, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, go crazy for it.

Even more infuriating is that fact that, at the very same time that the UK approves the genetic engineering of the next generation (and the next, and the next), Hershey’s has been so hounded by food purists on social media that the confectioner has given into the pressure to remove any ingredients that come from genetically-modified organisms.

Great. We will be eating GMO-free chocolate (reading about the spread of Dengue fever) while we blissfully ignore the creation of genetically-modified kids.

There are probably a million reasons why there is this crazy disconnect from what could be one of the greatest turning points in human history. None of them matter. There is no excuse. We should be producing a deafening roar that eclipses that showered on Hershey’s. Instead there are crickets.

We should be ashamed, but we aren’t. When the FDA decides to revisit the three-parent technique so that it can be used as a new fertility technique, we will turn our backs again and stay silent. By that time probably half of the U.S. will have laws requiring that GMO foods be labeled.

At that point, I would say we deserve the Brave New World we are going to get.

This article is courtesy of Creative Minority Report.


Rebecca Taylor is a clinical laboratory specialist in molecular biology, and a practicing pro-life Catholic who writes at the bioethics blog Mary Meets Dolly. She has been writing and speaking about Catholicism and biotechnology for six years and is a regular on Catholic radio.
  • faithandfamilyfirst

    Great question posed by this article. I feel the same. Where is everybody? Are we so outnumbered that this immoral, diabolic procedure is accepted without so much as a whimper? Or is it that we simply feel utterly helpless? After all, our fearless leaders push immorality like candy, and so many willingly and eagerly gobble it up.
    I do not believe that there is any person in this current administration who would oppose this genetic experimentation. The other side isn’t any better. All I see today are headlines of how our so-called conservative leaders are jumping ship to join the liberals in their insolated Shangri-La. But how can we feel when the leaders of a supposedly-civilized nation like Great Britain approve this?
    OK, enough talk. I’m ready to do something, but what, and how?

    • Dylan

      Arm ourselves with truth and knowledge. Methodically preach it, teach it, and warn others in a clear, consistent, and comprehensive manner. Encourage each other and anyone who will listen. Obtain artillery (intercession) from the monasteries. Voices crying in the wilderness need strength. Escalating, overwhelming odds indeed. Jesus prophesied all of this madness in His Passion (Lk 23:28). God, have mercy on us all.

    • NMBarry

      What and how? Begin by educating yourself. This goes so far beyond this being an anti-abortion or anti-IVF issue. Understand this is the Trojan horse to gain entry to further genetic modification. The type of financial investment this technology requires will not be profitable if its only applied to a few families who wish to have genetically related children, free of mitochondrial disease. Write the USCCB, and the Papal Nuncio, with your concerns. Ask the USCCB to take an active role, using social media and science education to help public perception. We need more like you willing to ask how you can help…thank you!

  • Linus

    Thank you, most of us just heard about this from the national news. Who would have dreamed of such a thing! Yes, the usual pro-life sources didn’t warn us of this.

  • Andy

    Your points are all newsworthy, but I wouldn’t be too discouraged by the fact that the average facebook user is looking for distraction and not deep thought.

  • $139892560

    When I first read about this weeks ago I was horrified and all I could think was had we human beings crossed the final line? Will God now have to intervene because of the arrogance involved in this? I think so. And I don’t believe we will enjoy this.
    PS. I’m not on facebook so I can’t click to like your article so here is my official ‘like’…click!

  • Colin Gormley

    I think some of the ambivilence comes from the fact that this is the U.K. I think some look at it as Ground Zero of the apostate Christian West.

  • AntonB

    Hello there. Great points all. I think part of the problem when trying to spread the Good News and the Truth through social media is that it can feel very isolating. I’ve been in a few online discussions about such matters as abortion and sexual ethics, and it can be tough to absorb the vicious pile-ons sometimes. Often, I’ve had to be the lone voice against a pretty hostile group, though recently I got some 11th hour support from some faithful friends. It felt like seeing Gandalf appear on the mountain over Helm’s Deep!

    I think we need to be there for each other in these debates. We really do. It’s not enough to just “like” a comment these days. We have to engage, and we have to back each other up, enduring the slings and arrows together. And yes, we have to take a stand not just in the virtual world, but in the real world as well. We’ll need lots of love and lots of courage and lots of prayer to meet this.

  • Dave

    True, everyone should be protesting this. GMO food is still bad too, though. They just have a more effective machine to get people into action.

  • NMBarry

    Let’s get the USCCB motivated to educate the public. You’re sick of the lack of out cry…you are not alone! I’ve been banging the drum for a number of years, and I’m moving into a more vocal position against this agenda. There has been much deception on the part of the proponents, and if we are to have a collective Catholic voice that will be heard, we need to bring to the debate empirical evidence. If we strictly defend against this agenda as being anti-abortion, which we are, or anti-IVF, our voice will only be heard as Charlie Brown’s parents by the public. Point out the fact that a number that was used in the UK to gain the sympathy of the public, that 1 in 5,000 babies are born with a mitochondrial disease is not being reported correctly. Yes, 1 in 5,000 individuals will develop a mitochondrial disease, but that number represents those who might develop a mitochondrial disease over their lifetime, including those who might develop a disease due to having been exposed to one of the leading causes of mitochondrial mutations – environmental toxins such as medications that are not tested before FDA approval for mitochondrial toxicity. In truth, the proponents exploited children born with mito defects to push their agenda. If you break down the empirical data, that 1 in 5,000 is far less. Mitochondrial diseases can arise from defects in the nuclear DNA (nDNA)…or the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) or in the communication between the nucleus and the mitochondria. This technique ONLY addresses mutations in the mtDNA, and the proponents tossing around that large figure of 1 in 5,000 fail to address the fact most mitochondrial disease that present at birth or childhood arise from mutations in the nDNA. Do you follow? We are talking very few candidates based on this would be eligible, which begs the question how are investors going to recover and make a profit if NOT going beyond manipulation of mtDNA. We need to challenge this agenda beyond defending the tenants of our faith.

  • PJ

    I think people are “throwing in the towel” on a culture war we can’t seem to win on any front.