Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

First Genetically Modified Human Embryo Under Review

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the gattaca-suing-for-patent-infringement dept.

Biotech 509

Wired is reporting that Cornell University researchers genetically modified a human embryo in 2007, but have only recently been gaining publicity as their work is being reviewed. "The research raises a number of thorny ethical questions. Though adding a fluorescent protein was merely a proof-of-principle step, scientists say that modified embryos could be used to research human diseases. They say embryos wouldn't be allowed to develop for more than a few weeks, much less implanted in a woman and brought to term."

cancel ×

509 comments

WHAT HAS SCIENCE DONE? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23384600)

Seriously

Re:WHAT HAS SCIENCE DONE? (3, Funny)

Datamonstar (845886) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384614)

Quiche?

Re:WHAT HAS SCIENCE DONE? (5, Funny)

Teresita (982888) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384634)

A fluorescent protein? Did they want to make a baby that you can find under the black lights in a night club?

Re:WHAT HAS SCIENCE DONE? (3, Funny)

CowboyNealOption (1262194) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384660)

Seriously though, how many people here would love to be fluorescent green?

Re:WHAT HAS SCIENCE DONE? (5, Funny)

Dallas Caley (1262692) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384684)

I'd be a hit at the next rave i can tell you that for sure!

Re:WHAT HAS SCIENCE DONE? (2, Informative)

an.echte.trilingue (1063180) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384802)

Seriously though, how many people here would love to be fluorescent green?
The space lawyer [slashdot.org] probably wouldn't mind.

Re:WHAT HAS SCIENCE DONE? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23385168)

And you wondered how Soylent Green could possibly have that color...

Re:WHAT HAS SCIENCE DONE? (3, Funny)

clem (5683) | more than 6 years ago | (#23385220)

You think it's easy being green?

Re:WHAT HAS SCIENCE DONE? (1)

clonan (64380) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384672)

This is a common gene that is added to explore the control mechanism of specific protein...

Like when and where they are produced.

Re:Who throws genes? (1)

jeiler (1106393) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384710)

Seriously

WHAT HASN'T SCIENCE DONE?l (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23384988)

~Gant

Re:WHAT HAS SCIENCE DONE? (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 6 years ago | (#23385040)

Ahahahahahaha, oh the flamewars this will cause!

404 on Link (1)

Stefanwulf (1032430) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384622)

Anyone else getting a 404 "feed not found" page back from feeds.wired.com?

Re:404 on Link (1)

Valkarious (1264212) | more than 6 years ago | (#23385130)

Yeah, but it's not like /. users like to RTFA anyhow.

fluorescent protein? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23384644)

Does that mean the kid would have an annoying hum if born?

Re:fluorescent protein? (1)

Teresita (982888) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384682)

Does that mean the kid would have an annoying hum if born?

No, but if the kid was aborted, you would have to dispose of the fetus as HAZMAT.

wouldn't be allowed to develop? (3, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384648)

Wouldn't that mean they were murdered? That is if you accept the religious side of the house...

Re:wouldn't be allowed to develop? (1)

Leonard Fedorov (1139357) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384738)

Can't be murder. Murder is defined (by dictionary.com) as killing with malicious intent. Although, if you're the right-wing type who thinks of athesits as god-less satan worshippers...

Re:wouldn't be allowed to develop? (4, Insightful)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384788)

www.m-w.com defines it as " the crime of unlawfully killing a person especially with malice aforethought". Therefore the morality of the act is pre-determined by the ruling authority and THAT defines murder. This isn't a religious debate, it is an ethical one. To even bring religion into it is a Straw-Man argument. The point is that these organisms are definitely human and they are definitely alive. So is killing them wrong?

Re:wouldn't be allowed to develop? (5, Insightful)

kc8apf (89233) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384922)

You are presenting one side of an issue as the only side. You've chosen the side that embryos are human and alive and thus this is murder. From the other side, these are not humans and/or not alive. Religion seems to come in on this since one of the most vocal religious groups (christians) tend to side with you. It isn't really a religious debate, but many people view it as one due to that.

What is "human" to you? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23385028)

> You are presenting one side of an issue as the only side. You've chosen the side that embryos are human and alive and thus this is murder.

Forget whether it's "murder" or not for a second (that's an emotive word that will only derail discussion) and focus on the "human" aspect of things, please.

Fertilized embryos and zygotes are living homo sapien organisms--not some other species, right? They're becoming something we all recognize as human, or would given food and shelter?

So what's the other side of that (and ONLY that--no "murder" discussion, please)? They can't feel or understand pain so it's speciesist to give them special treatment merely because they're homo sapiens. Or perhaps, "What's the difference between them and cell cultures removed from your body? Especially if we could clone those?", ignoring that fertilized embryos are becoming human and samples are not?

I merely want to understand, so no flames please. I would like to hear your reasoning and your philosophy, not your anger.

Re:What is "human" to you? (4, Insightful)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 6 years ago | (#23385116)

How about Humanity being defined as having brain activity that allows them to respond to stimuli in a non-reflexive manner?

If someone has no brain activity, they are often declared dead. That being said, they may still have some nerve reflexed (as do detached muscle cells).

Re:What is "human" to you? (-1, Offtopic)

Oldav (533444) | more than 6 years ago | (#23385224)

If brain activity is the parameter,GW Bush is dead!

Re:What is "human" to you? (4, Interesting)

Straker Skunk (16970) | more than 6 years ago | (#23385194)

An embryo is human (Homo sapiens) and living (not dead tissue), in the technical sense. That has nothing to do with whether it is "a person who { is, should be } granted societal protection from being killed." After all, a brainless vegetable is also human and living, and most folks don't see a problem with pulling the plug on one. (The Terry Schiavo case hinged on whether she really was "brainless," in the public consciousness.)

Re:What is "human" to you? (2, Insightful)

Tangent128 (1112197) | more than 6 years ago | (#23385218)

Or perhaps, "What's the difference between them and cell cultures removed from your body? Especially if we could clone those?", ignoring that fertilized embryos are becoming human and samples are not?
If you destroy a culture from your body, you remain alive. In the case of an embryo, that culture is their body.

In the end, it does seem to come down to what defines an "individual". The (practically always) new combination of DNA formed during fertilization seems the most explicit.

The situation of cloning from a sample of your own tissue muddles things, though. The fact that tissue doesn't naturally revert into an embryo would seem to be the clearest line here. Once a human has delibrately set the cell line on an organism-replicating path, one may as well treat it as a new individual, as one would have essentially "thrown the switch" normally reserved for post-fertilization development.

Re:What is "human" to you? (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#23385270)

"What's the difference between them and cell cultures removed from your body?
some would argue that if left to its own devices, embryonic cells would grow to become a human child where as cell cultures derived from your body would not.

Re:What is "human" to you? (2, Insightful)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 6 years ago | (#23385296)

I don't have a full answer, but at one point there is a sense of awareness (even if it's not mature). For example, a born baby cries and likes to be held by it's mother.

At the other end, a freshly fertilized egg does not have a sense of awareness (at least, none that science can detect or explain).

I think this plays a part in the discussion. The embryo is human, but is an embryo self-aware?

Re:wouldn't be allowed to develop? (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 6 years ago | (#23385088)

Religions might also say that the abomination is creating the embryo under circumstances where they cannot possibly survive, not in allowing them to inevitably die a natural death. The latter is somewhat related to the question of whether doctors should be forced to keep a terminal patient alive with extraordinary means. Depends on how they terminate the embryos, I suppose. Either way, though, there are a lot of moral and ethical questions here....

Re:wouldn't be allowed to develop? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23385096)

I've heard this before, and it's dumb as fuck. If embryos aren't human, what are they? Fish? Potato?

Re:wouldn't be allowed to develop? (5, Insightful)

johnlcallaway (165670) | more than 6 years ago | (#23385080)

You had me until the last sentence.

They are a mass of cells that one day could become human. My sperm one day could also become human, does that make masturbation a crime if I don't make every attempt possible to fertilize an egg?? Is a woman committing murder because she doesn't attempt to get pregnant every period??

Oh .. I know. Some chose an arbitrary point when an egg and sperm meet to decide what is human.

OK .. I chose the arbitrary point when a fetus emerges from a woman as the point a fetus becomes human. I have just as much basis for that statement as anyone who chooses fertilization. It's all arbitrary depending on your beliefs, since there are no scientific or legal definitions for a soul. Religious definitions don't count, as you just said. As far as the law is concerned, a soul doesn't exist.

I've noticed it also depends on whether or not the person arguing is the one that has to support it. Seems that people are more than willing to argue against abortion when they don't have to support the child in the end. I agree with the semi-serious argument that all anti-abortion advocates should have to sign up to adopt all the children that their cause prevents being aborted.

That flimsy argument aside, the US recognizes 90 days of development as to when an abortion can occur, so any embryo that is not developed past that point should be able to be terminated in the US without receiving any permission from a legal authority. The US does not define what methods are acceptable for creating embryos, both natural and artificial means are accepted. So whether or not an embryo is in a placenta or a petri dish should also be irrelevant. Since embryos can be frozen for years, it should be based on physical development, not length of time.

Re:wouldn't be allowed to develop? (4, Insightful)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 6 years ago | (#23385242)

Oh .. I know. Some chose an arbitrary point when an egg and sperm meet to decide what is human.

I think that point is often chosen because it's not arbitrary. It's a significant developmental event. Twelve hours before, three weeks later; those are arbitrary points. Your second example of an arbitrary point, when the baby is born, isn't arbitrary either. A true arbitrary point would be something like "after the first trimester."

There's a few other significant points in the development of a baby, such as first mental activity, first heartbeat, and so on. Those aren't arbitrary either. They may not be the correct basis to distinguish a human from a fetus, but they aren't purely subjective.

Re:wouldn't be allowed to develop? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#23385198)

The point is that these organisms are definitely human and they are definitely alive. So is killing them wrong?


I don't know about you, but I find assuming one's conclusion and then imagining that anyone is bound by that is not only poor form, but pretty goddamned intellectually lazy as well.

If an embryo only a few weeks old is a human being, then are HeLa [wikipedia.org] cells human as well?

Re:wouldn't be allowed to develop? (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#23385210)

it's not only a question of whether or not killing embryos at this stage would be wrong, it's als oa question of what the consequences of not carrying out this sort of research. would it morally/ethically be wrong to stifle this kind of research to protect the life of these embryos while millions suffer and die from diseases that could have been treated using this research? I'm not advocating one position or another in this case, just pointing out the other side of this.

Re:wouldn't be allowed to develop? (1)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#23385262)

This isn't a religious debate, it is an ethical one.
If it's not a religious debate, it's not about morality and not about ethics. Because absolute values really come only from religions. If it's about human rights then it's about the United Nations and a consensus view and whether this should change. If it's a legal debate then it's rather boring really. But you can't rule religion out of this because that's the very reason why all of this is controversial.

Re:wouldn't be allowed to develop? (1)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 6 years ago | (#23385286)

Although, if you're the right-wing type who thinks of athesits as god-less satan worshippers...

Wow. Just wow. This must be the most valid point to strenghten your position in a discussion. "If you do not agree with my above statement, you must be also part of this other group I loathe with all evil and despicable people and followers according to my processing ability of what I believe is factual data, where I take emotion entirely out of the equation."


I must say, you're a strong conversationalist.


btw, I live a country where you have dosens of political parties, no "black/white", before you ignore me away as a "evil other-then-me"-type of person falling outside of your comfy frame of reference which you try to enforce no matter what; "it is so because I say so. And if it isn't, I shall make it so!" comes to mind. You must be god, in your own frame of reference. Also, your answer is quite conclusive, you must be very intelligent and have weighted every possible aspect of every possible stance to be able to so shortly summerize some issue as this. As if you're saying "nah, I don't feel like cookies right now. I'm more concerned about how I can generate alternative power from a bee. I'm almost there. This cookie decision making is puny."


Please, can grant me three absolute answers? Your powers might help humankind. Or else you're probably one of these retarted Americans who think in black and white. You couldn't be that, you posess absolute knowledge.

Re:wouldn't be allowed to develop? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384750)

There seems to be quite a bit of middle ground. There are the people who get pregnant in order to rescue frozen embryos, and then there are the people who get repeated, failed fertility treatments. Both could claim to represent the religious side of the house.

Re:wouldn't be allowed to develop? (4, Funny)

vertinox (846076) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384758)

Wouldn't that mean they were murdered? That is if you accept the religious side of the house...

As much as you murder millions of children every night with bottle of lotion and a box of kleenex...

Re:wouldn't be allowed to develop? (4, Insightful)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384970)

I think not. Most people can differentiate between the potential for life (semen and eggs) and actual life itself (autonomous life including self-replicating cells that may or may not have certain dependencies for life; don't we all?).

Re:wouldn't be allowed to develop? (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#23385238)

I think not. Most people can differentiate between the potential for life (semen and eggs) and actual life itself (autonomous life including self-replicating cells that may or may not have certain dependencies for life; don't we all?).
For what value of "most people"?

A popular line of reasoning says that birth control pills = abortion because they prevent a fertilized egg from implanting. They may or may not understand what you're saying, but either way they disagree with your definitions. That isn't something that can be resolved (through education for example).

Not to flame (0, Troll)

aztektum (170569) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384800)

I figure all religious beliefs on the topic should be thrown out before the discussion begins. Religion is responsible for more genocide than anything else. Today's rallying cry of "Save the babies!" is typically political babble to earn votes.

Invalid arguement (3, Insightful)

Nerdposeur (910128) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384980)

First, you lump all religious people (hint: this is most of the planet) into the category of "people who cause genocide." Second, you offhandedly pronounce that, on the whole, the effects of religion are evil. Then, you conclude that religious viewpoints should not be heard. I say that you can't back up any of those statements.

It would be just as easy to out-of-hand dismiss Slashdot users (the only group I can knowingly lump you into) as incapable of reasonable political debate.

The fact is, this is an ethical question. It presumes that human life is valuable, and asks whether embryos qualify, and then asks how their interests balance against the other considerations.

The idea that human life IS valuable is just as much a belief as the idea that embryos do or don't qualify as humans. Whether you call that belief "religious" or not, it's still a belief.

I happen to believe that human life is valuable because we "are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights." I make no argument about the faith of the Founding Fathers, but they did start with that premise. If you toss out the Creator, I assume you have some alternate rationale, but I don't think it's reasonable to say that any religious basis for valuing human life is irrelevant.

Re:Invalid arguement (3, Insightful)

aztektum (170569) | more than 6 years ago | (#23385200)

The effects of religion have proven time and again to be more than overwhelmingly negative. They're only competition for motivation to reap atrocities on mankind is lust for money.

Point out where I said this wasn't an ethically ambiguous question? Granted my comment was made hastily; I was splitting my attention between 3 things. Given the detailed history of religious followers to shoot first and refuse to ask/answer questions later, I personally give little value to their opinions.

It would be just as easy to out-of-hand dismiss Slashdot users (the only group I can knowingly lump you into) as incapable of reasonable political debate.
I'm not here to have reasonable political debate. This isn't a political forum. I'm not running for office. I want nothing to do with "politics".

What I'm saying is, I tire of religious rhetoric impacting the lives of those who do not follow a religious association. If to you this has ethical implications along religious principles, fine. To me it does not, to many others it does not. I have no desire to see science and the future of humanities advancement marginalized because somethings make people feel icky.

My beliefs are not your beliefs. Yours are not mine. Science should always recognize this accordingly and avoid being influenced by either.

Re:Invalid arguement (2, Interesting)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 6 years ago | (#23385280)

I tend to lean towards human life not being valuable.


There are already too many people on the planet as it is, and thousands of them die on a daily basis. There is no "magic" to creating life and the resources (Sperm and Eggs) are plentiful. Might as well get something from the resources via scientific study, instead of just letting them go to waste.

Re:Invalid arguement (1)

aztektum (170569) | more than 6 years ago | (#23385282)

"Religion is a subject on which I have ever been most scrupulously reserved. I have considered it as a matter between every man and his Maker in which no other, and far less the public, had a right to intermeddle." --Thomas Jefferson

This is where I was coming from with my original comment. Ones religion is between them and their God(s). Leave the rest of the world out of it.

Re:wouldn't be allowed to develop? (1)

icandodat (799666) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384874)

I don't think you even need to go into religion. Most thinking humans would agree that we must hold human life sacred if for no other reason than to protect your own. An embryo is a human life. A sperm is not, and neither for that matter is an unfertilized egg. researchers will tell you that this type of experimentation can lead to cures for diseases but at what cost? We sacrifice the most innocent so that some 80 year old billionaire can get a boner or eek out a few more years of his wretched life on earth because he's so afraid that dieing is the end or that he will actually have to face his fate. This is like spending your kids food money on blow.

Re:wouldn't be allowed to develop? (4, Insightful)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384958)

Except what helps an 80 year old billionaire will help an 70 year old millionaire, 60 year old white collar worker, etc, down to 20 year olds with pulmonary hypertension.

So what IS the cost if an 80 year old billionaire is funding the research for treatment that will benefit everyone else, except a billionaire's money?

Re:wouldn't be allowed to develop? (2, Insightful)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 6 years ago | (#23385228)

An embryo is a human life.

No more or less so than a white blood cell. But we don't define cutting yourself as mass murder.

The relevant question is whether it's a "person", not whether it's technically alive or technically human. The embryo has substantially less claim to being a "person" than does a brain-dead body.

Re:wouldn't be allowed to develop? (4, Insightful)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 6 years ago | (#23385154)

Just to nitpick, you don't need to be religious to view abortion as murder. Just as some religious people are ok with it.

what's with the link (5, Informative)

slig (1233832) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384654)

I'm sure it can't have been slashdotted already. Alternate source here [wired.com]

DAN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23384680)

abomination

Why not allow them to be implanted? (4, Insightful)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384696)

We have glowing mice and they're doing fine. Why not a glowing human? I think that would be pretty nifty. I really don't see why there would be people who are against such things. This has other implications too. Imagine if we could remove the defect that causes Huntington disease in an embryo. Would people have ethical issues with that?

Re:Why not allow them to be implanted? (5, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384728)

We can't have glowing humans because they would piss everyone off at movie theatres.

Re:Why not allow them to be implanted? (5, Funny)

gdog05 (975196) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384780)

But at least you could easily corner them in a dark alley afterward.

Re:Why not allow them to be implanted? (4, Insightful)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384808)

I know this is funny but the root problem here is how would YOU feel if you knew you were born out of a scientific experiment?

Re:Why not allow them to be implanted? (5, Funny)

dustman (34626) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384924)

I know this is funny but the root problem here is how would YOU feel if you knew you were born out of a scientific experiment?
awesome

Re:Why not allow them to be implanted? (2, Funny)

G00F (241765) | more than 6 years ago | (#23385184)

At least I wouldn't have clean out the lint in my belly button again!

Re:Why not allow them to be implanted? (1)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384992)

I'd love to have been born with specially modified genes that make me glow. Once I turn 12, I'd have to fend off lusty women with a stick.

The real victim would be the human race, which would have to deal with a thriving subspecies of visibly weird mutants.

Come on, admit it, that would creep you out.

Re:Why not allow them to be implanted? (1)

Tangent128 (1112197) | more than 6 years ago | (#23385048)

Depends on your personality. Some people might angst, some would think it cool. I'd prefer it to being dead, in any case.

In cases of identity, though, asking "how would YOU feel" isn't as helpful. You weren't born with the ability to glow under a blacklight, so you really wouldn't know what it's like to grow up that way.

That said, people have coped with far worse problems. This wouldn't even be an inconvience, aside from close-minded people fed by Hollywood.

Re:Why not allow them to be implanted? (0, Offtopic)

WK2 (1072560) | more than 6 years ago | (#23385142)

How would you feel if you knew you were pushed out of your mom's vagina?

Re:Why not allow them to be implanted? (3, Insightful)

$0.02 (618911) | more than 6 years ago | (#23385152)

Ask the first in vitro conceived human.

Re:Why not allow them to be implanted? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23385302)

how would YOU feel if you knew you were born out of a scientific experiment?

better than I feel knowing I was born out of my mom and dad bumping uglies...

Dunno how I feel about this. (2, Insightful)

jeiler (1106393) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384700)

No, I don't want to be preaching "gloom and doom," but it does raise ethical questions. The biggest question: are the ethical questions that such an act raises actual issues of right and wrong, or are they simply the products of Western culture and my own philosophical prejudices? Here's the corrected link. [wired.com]

Re:Dunno how I feel about this. (3, Insightful)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384972)

are the ethical questions ... actual issues of right and wrong, or are they ... my own philosophical prejudices?
Great question, but aren't "right and wrong" culturally defined? Or is there some objective cosmic value system we can mathematically derive?

Right and wrong are not cultural (5, Interesting)

Nerdposeur (910128) | more than 6 years ago | (#23385104)

Great question, but aren't "right and wrong" culturally defined?

If right and wrong are culturally defined (not just specific application, but the general principles), I would argue that they don't exist. There is a big difference between "I/we prefer you don't do X" and "X is wrong."

Imagine that you're walking down the street and trip on someone's foot. You're annoyed, right? Now imagine that you realize the person tripped you on purpose, and is laughing. Now you're indigent. Tripping people is wrong!

Clearly your anger has less to do with the pain of falling than with your deep-seated feeling that "it's wrong to harm others." You would not describe this as a preference.

Whatever we say about the source of morality, I think everyone feels that certain things are simply wrong. To deny this removes an important aspect of what it means to be human.

I know that someone will say that different cultures have different concepts of morality, but I don't buy it. There are different applications, yes; but no culture values cowardice and treason and murder. Some cultures defend their genocide and slavery by arguing that the victims aren't human, for example, but they do this because they must justify their actions against the standard that genocide and slavery are wrong. Our instinct to make excuses shows that we agree with the standard.

Wrong questioning. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23385000)

I'm sorry, but this is wrong questioning, because you're assuming that there is some global (meaning absolute) definition of right and wrong. There isn't.
One of the most important things i learned is, that everything is relative. If someone wants to kill you, and you kill him first, then for both of you you were right yourself, and the other one was wrong.
This comes from the simple rule, that humans have only two reasons why they're doing something: Either they think what they're doing is fundamentally right, or they did not want it in the first place.

Examples for the first reason in my "killing" example are: That other guy thoght you wanted to kill him any he had no other chance than to kill you first. Or that you did or stood for something so evil (to him), that it was only fair to kill you. And you maybe killed him for the same reasons.

Examples for the second reason coild be, that anyone of you did it accidential in the reflex to protect himself. Or you were forced to it and had no choice.

Of course the "law" does not care for this, because it is a set the common rules that you as a group argeed to. At least that's what it shoud be. In reality it's The ruleset of a much smaller group. And in really really real reality it is quite likely that there is not a single person who agrees to all teh laws (eg they are a compormise).

That brings us to the final philosophy:
- Do whatever *you* think is right (you can't do anything other anyway).
- When interacting with other poeple, think of the consequences for you when you apply their ruleset(s). This can be very complex. And that's why there is a third rule:
- When somebody does something that's not right in your rule system, then always remember that to him doing this was correct or he did not want to do it, and then search for a solution that's ok for you both (yes, for your enemy too), or you and he can never be happy again. (Going completely separate ways is a solution too. But it's not the best, because you lose the advantages of being in a group with him.)

You'll eb happy to hear that this even works with outer space aliens. :)

good luck... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23384734)

They say embryos wouldn't be allowed to develop for more than a few weeks...
Yeah, but by that point, the embryo may have learned to control its mutant super powers. We'll be lucky if we're allowed to live for another few weeks!

Someone think of the embryo! (0, Redundant)

city (1189205) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384774)

For the sake of the embryo I hope that women aren't allowed to work in that lab. Some freak accident could lead to a woman being implanted with an embryo, which we know imbues it with a soul. And when the embryo is not brought to term the soul would go to hell... or would that be heaven since it hasn't committed sin yet? Wait what are the thorny ethical questions again?

Re:Someone think of the embryo! (2, Interesting)

vertinox (846076) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384872)

And when the embryo is not brought to term the soul would go to hell... or would that be heaven since it hasn't committed sin yet? Wait what are the thorny ethical questions again?

So does god send unborn yet dead people to hell or heaven?

If he sends them to heaven then its sweet deal for the person involved.

If he sends them to hell... Well... I'm not sure if that is a kind and loving god. Could you worship something like that?

Re:Someone think of the embryo! (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384900)

By sweet deal... I meant going to heaven without ever having the chance to go to hell. If you are born and live into adulthood you've got a 50/50 chance to going to hell (maybe more if you were born in the wrong country) so statically speaking if god does send miscarriages and abortions to heaven its a 100% success rate in which the person involved should be thankful for not being put at risk of going to hell... If it is that bad of a place.

Re:Someone think of the embryo! (1)

jeiler (1106393) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384952)

Hell = eternity with cable television ... that plays nothing but infomercials for products you don't want.

Re:Someone think of the embryo! (1)

Facetious (710885) | more than 6 years ago | (#23385022)

Actually, I'm in hell right now. It's not the heat that bothers me, it's that every url gets routed to 66.35.250.150.

Cool! I have a list of human mods already! (5, Funny)

farbles (672915) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384778)

Number 1: More intelligence. Hoo boy do we need this one implemented ASAP.

Number 2: Respiratory bypass system. No more choking to death on pretzels.

Number 3: Two hearts. Works for the Time Lords, howzabout it working for us?

Number 4: Reinforced cerebral circulatory system. No more strokes.

Number 5: Smarter immune system. Get rid of cancer and AIDS before they start, no more auto-immune diseases.

Number 6: Smart metabolism. Good-bye unwanted pounds, save your ass if you crash in the Andes without making your co-survivors menu items.

And so on. Look, we can stand some species improving. Save the default in the genes as a backup and let's get splicing here.

Re:Cool! I have a list of human mods already! (3, Funny)

Afecks (899057) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384938)

Save the default in the genes as a backup and let's get splicing here.
Goddamn sploicers!

WRONG approach (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23385076)

1. Increased strength - able to move large chunks of rock and earth.
2. Increased birthrate - ability to create more and more offspring
3. Limited life span, say 15-20 years - lowers chance of rebellion
4. Limited brain capacity, remove speech, reading, complex math- education creates rebels
5. Limited spiritual/mystical fondness - without hope it is easy to employ for work.
6. Increased stamina - ability to work 7 days a week, with limited breaks.
7. Poor vision, maybe 20/100 - can't rebel without good eyesight

Re:WRONG approach (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23385250)

> 5. Limited spiritual/mystical fondness

This is an oxymoron. Es usted un "ox" y una "moron". ;P

A sad time for humanity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23385108)

I know you were joking, but what about actually NOT EATING TOXIC CRAP (= tons of [sugar, white flour, saturated fat, aspartame, salt]) so you never come to the danger to need protection against strokes any whatnot. I think with mod number 1, this would already been solved.

Re:Cool! I have a list of human mods already! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23385110)

Don't forget three-breasted whores! Well, I'm not sure if a parent would want such a girl but there are some odd people out there...

Re:Cool! I have a list of human mods already! (2, Insightful)

$0.02 (618911) | more than 6 years ago | (#23385170)

Number 7: Profit.

Could Be Worse (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23384814)

Children are born to parents who don't want them, they neglect them, abuse them, and even kill them.

There are parents who know they have medical problems related to their genetics, and yet are still selfish enough to "try for one" instead of adopting one of the 50,000+ or so that die of starvation somewhere in the world.

There are people out there who believe that having a baby can help save their relationship / marriage, and so create a whole human being just so they don't have to face up to the fact that they don't belong with somebody.

There are a host of ethical issues about this genetically modified human embryo, but nothing worse than already exists in the world today.

umm.... wasnt there something called Geneva? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23384870)

Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't the Geneva Convention outlaw human testing? and I can already see the the whole "televangelist" rebuttal already..
The bible belters here in Florida are gonna be annoyed when this eventually gets on the news networks. anyway.. It is neat and all but I still think we should proceed with it in a cautious manner..

If they are not self aware, why not? (5, Interesting)

Bragador (1036480) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384898)

At this age they are not self aware. Basically they don't know they exist. I don't see the difference between studying an embryo of that age and studyng plants.

We are already using animals that are aware of their existance in labs. Apes can recognise themselves in front of a mirror and we are using them so I feel this is really not a big issue and we should let science go ahead.

Now I'm going to start a very heated debate. We know that babies start to be self aware around the age of 2 so if you really want to test my logic I'll tell you my opinion. We could logically use babies to make tests. Why this horrifies people is because they are attached to their own babies but since these newborns are not sentient yet, where is the harm in using "lab babies"? They would have to be grown in artificial wombs and all that to dehumanize them but logically it shouldn't be stopped.

I might be modded down for opening a can of worms but try to have fun with this ethical puzzle.

mod parent up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23384968)

There is definitely a grey area between embryo and 2-year-old that can be argued over.

Let the games commence!

-AC

Re:If they are not self aware, why not? (2, Funny)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 6 years ago | (#23385020)

I'm fine with it. I'm fine with abortions up to the 75th trimester.

Re:If they are not self aware, why not? (2, Insightful)

LithiumX (717017) | more than 6 years ago | (#23385106)

When you're deciding on who gets human rights, and who doesn't, you have to err on the side of caution.

For example, assuming wild swings in opinion over time (as tends to happen), would you be more concerned about chimpanzees being granted full human rights (something I consider overly drastic), or about the severely retarded (and I mean severely - minimally functional vs a funny-looking slow guy who can't make it on his own) having their rights downgraded due to missing critical elements of a human mind?

I'm not personally concerned about the fate of an embryo - it's not quite a "baby" yet. I AM concerned about the precedents set by it's fate, and the inevitable results of applying too much logic to the value of human life. Your life only has as much value as society gives it, and the only safe standards have to be overly accepting - otherwise you see how quickly they can erode.

Another issue... are these embryo's property? If some experimenter chose not to terminate, and had the technology to keep it going, at what point would they cross a line? Definitely not sentience, as it would be very easy to prevent a developing human from ever having that level of intelligence. Would YOU like to see a number of purposefully brain damaged homo sapiens vat grown for medical experimentation?

Sad thing is, I'm pretty certain that's the future. When opportunity meets ethics, ethics never wins (given time).

Re:If they are not self aware, why not? (1)

NonSequor (230139) | more than 6 years ago | (#23385146)

If you reduce all ethical questions to their impact on the conscious experiences of humans, you're going to end up wandering into "Brave New World" territory.

Re:If they are not self aware, why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23385166)

Aww but they're so cootsiecootsiecuuute.

Let's face it, human testing can do great things FOR SCIENCE!
It would merely suck if you were the one being tested on.

Re:If they are not self aware, why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23385306)

Peter Singer wants his shtick back.

YoU fail it!? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23384910)

Raadt's sAtubborn If you answered

After market upgrade genome (2, Informative)

moteyalpha (1228680) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384932)

I have added fluorescent protein in the lab with e. Coli and it is very simple. There have been quite a few more unusual experiments that involve taking human brain cells and growing them in mice and adding human genes to animals. I think the door is already wide open as they can claim it is not human if it does not have 100% human genome. I wonder if this non human gene is in a human, then are they not human any more by this definition?

Not carried to term (1)

Steneub (1070216) | more than 6 years ago | (#23384990)

Give a medical reason why not.

Modified Embryo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23385002)

Yeah, but how do they taste with bacon?

If pets look like their owners... (1)

peipas (809350) | more than 6 years ago | (#23385036)

We could both be fluorescent!

LIES (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 6 years ago | (#23385046)

"They say embryos wouldn't be allowed to develop for more than a few weeks, much less implanted in a woman and brought to term."
this is what it would be like if governments said "nuclear energy is going to be used for peaceful purposes only" back in 1930s.

Just because you can doesn't mean you should (3, Interesting)

BearRanger (945122) | more than 6 years ago | (#23385064)

In the long run the Cornell scientists have probably done a good thing, as I'm sure this will be a milestone in manipulating our genome. A great proof of concept. But you have to wonder if, as a species, we're ready for this.

Few people would object to using genetic manipulation to eliminate diseases or birth defects. What about homosexuality? Or dark skin? Or some other socially marginalized trait that has no bearing on the genetic fitness of the individual? What effect would "enhanced humans" have on a society built by "mundane" humans?

I personally believe we don't yet have the wisdom or foresight necessary to manipulate our genes. Until we can reach some sort of ethical consensus on the how, why and when of human genome manipulation we should collectively say no.

Two wrongs don't make a right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23385090)

Murdering babies after experimenting on them is very Dr. Mengele-like.

Whatever happened to "never again"?

I, for one, welcome our glow-in-the-dark overlords (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 6 years ago | (#23385094)

(It makes them much better targets.)

I am sick and tired of the word "embryo" (5, Informative)

jdb2 (800046) | more than 6 years ago | (#23385100)

First, I haven't RTFA due to the /. effect but I can tell you that the "thorny moral questions" being raised are caused by the media's incorrect use of the word "embryo" -- either to cater to a dumbed down audience or to be "politically (in)correct" such as to not anger the fundies too much.

There are *2* stages of development before the blob of a few hundred cells is considered an "embryo". First, there's the formation of the zygote after fertilization, and then there's the formation of the blastocyst. The blastocyst is basically a hollow fluid filled sphere consisting of an outer layer of trophoblast cells which eventually become the placenta and an inner blob of cells called the embryoblast which eventually forms the embryo after the blastocyst phase.

When talking of "embryos", scientists are usually talking about the extracted embryoblast cells which are pluripotent stem cells. These cells are *NOT* viable and are just that : cells -- they're not going to grow into a baby, or an "embryo" for that matter. Even I would be upset if it were found out that the real embryo, after the start of cell differentiation, had been tampered with.

To conclude, stem cells are not embryos -- they're just a multiplying blob of undifferentiated pluripotent Human cells and as such, they should be put in the same class as pond scum, although pond scum is actually far more highly developed -- the aforementioned stem cells cannot survive outside of a Petri dish (unless they're implanted into another nutrient source, such as the Human body for purposes of healing)

jdb2

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...