Saturday, January 15, 2011


     Start with a fanfare of trumpets, or perhaps with the opening bars of "Send In the Clowns", to herald the invention of EnviroChicken, now replacing EnviroPig in the news headlines.
This GM chicken supposedly cannot get avian flu--yet, we are again told, its meat and eggs are "indistinguishable" from that of real/natural/traditional/unimproved chickens. Again, let us echo Michael Pollan's finding*: Chickens raised semi-wild on open pasture rarely get diseased; whereas those kept in close confinement on factory farms do have problems.
     The question now arises: How long will it be before we have EnviroBaby? Surely in a lab somewhere--though of course not in the United States--someone is genetically modifying the human genome so that the baby will be ... will be ... you name it. Taller, a future NBA star? More brainy, a future super-Einstein? Courageous, fodder for the military? A little girl succulent to see, to win pageants and live out the dreams of the frustrated "mother"? A boy (if a boy is what's on the order form) born pre-circumcised? Of course all such babies will be immune to every loathly disease currently known (emphasize currently).
    Maybe Hitler just didn't know enough to get it right; otherwise we would all be his version of Aryans--blue-eyed blonds.
      How long will it be before would-be parents demand the latest modification in their child? How does this differ from the computer age, where it is but a short step from latest-and-best to obsolescence?
   We can imagine some white-coated scientist somewhere getting it "right". Then the question will be: Should he or she be allowed to continue down that path?
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* Pollan, Michael Omnivore's Dilemma

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