Monday, 9 July 2007

Is DNA Research Good or Bad?

Many individuals who despair at technological advances, seem to live by the credo that, 'ignorance is bliss'. The Green Movement are very adept at this, believing that nature untouched by man is good and the unnatural man-made equals bad. Indeed, they like to espouse bromides like, 'the raping of nature' whenever man-made technology is used to combine natural elements, into new discoveries and technologies.

These anti-technology 'greens' are often very aggressively anti-business too, and can be seen at their gleeful happiest, when putting bricks through McDonald's restaurant windows. The more extreme and radical greens, like to put bombs through the letter boxes of 'animal testing' scientific research labs.

When these 'green' extremists are shouting their diatribe through megaphones atop of soap boxes, listen to their rhetoric. It is almost never, in the positive terminology of 'what can we do to help improve the environment' ...rather, they spit out venomous and hateful slander at business owners and have an almost psychotic desire to pull down technology and drag us all back to living in the forest, in mud huts.

Unlike the 'greens' there are are honest naturalists who do genuine work to help improve the environment, for example, repopulating areas; that are near extinction of a particular species, within those areas (indeed, one example of this, is the repopulation of Britain with the white-tailed sea eagle). These people don't spend their days in zero-sum-games, of 'soap box' ranting and propaganda demonstrating. They actually do something positive.

Then of course there is the religious right, who feel justified in interfering in any advance in technology, that they consider is messing in 'Gods domain'. Such as 'Stem Cell Research' which is now considered by most biologists, to be the 'best game in town' for potentially curing many diseases, that arise because of genetic defects. This research of course, relies on breakthroughs inDNA research.

So to the question, have breakthroughs in DNA research led to more harm than good? - Well I guess that depends on your perspective. If you believe that nature is a perfect Eden, that should be left untouched, and you thus, wish to revert to living 'in harmony with nature', then if you are of this opinion, then for you DNA research, or indeed any technology that goes beyond the realm of nature must be bad.

On the other hand, if like me you realize that our very survival as a species, relies on our ability to 'dig in' to the laws of nature and understand them to the 'ninth-degree'. Then, you realize that 'time waits for no man (or woman)'.

Technological progress that will lead to cures for diseases cannot be held up, by the irrational rantings of 'green' radicals and right wing fundamentalists. What is so very tragic, is that is exactly what is happening. Radical environmental groups like Peta have a lot of political clout and so do many religious organizations, especially in America, where such organizations get charity status tax breaks and turn over millions of dollars.

Because we now live in a Global-World, the next virus, could be a killer pandemic, that spreads not only from village to village, and from town to town, but also from country to country, such a virus could killed not only millions, but potentially billions of people World-Wide. Perhaps the influenza A virus (avian bird flu) or perhaps some other yet unknown virus, just 'waiting' for its killer moment.

The 'Spanish' influenza pandemic of 1918, killed 40 million people. That massive scale loss of life, would be 'peanuts' compared to the scale of life lost, in a pandemic today... daily air travel; would spread such a virus, rapidly across continents and countries and we would be almost powerless to stop it.

The best chance we have at defeating such viruses, is in understanding natural organisms at the level of the DNA. The ultimate defeat of such viruses, will probably come from blocking the viruses from 'locking-on' to their host. The solution will only come from an understanding of genetic codes, we can only do that, if we are willing to overcome our prejudices, against technological progress and unashamedly drive forward.

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