Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 1, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

MAD SCIENTISTS AND PIG MEN....I know that I wasn't the only one mumbling "WTF?" when George Bush talked about banning "human-animal hybrids" last night, but apparently it was just a garden variety shout out to the religious right. PZ Myers provides an example of what's really going on in our nation's labs:

Down syndrome is a very common genetic disorder caused by the presence of an extra chromosome 21.... We would love to have an animal model of Down syndrome...So what scientists have been doing is inserting human genes into mice, to produce similar genetic overdoses in their development.

....These mice are a tool to help us understand a debilitating human problem.

George W. Bush would like to make them illegal.

He's trusting that everyone will think he is banning monstrous crimes against nature, but what he's really doing is targeting the weak and the ill, blocking useful avenues of research that are specifically designed to help us understand human afflictions. His message isn't "We aren't going to let the mad scientists make monsters!", it's "We aren't going to let the doctors help those 'retards.'"

Actually, that's kind of disappointing. I was hoping that scientists were working on outfitting me with the eyes of an eagle and the reflexes of a cat. But instead they're just working on curing disease and making the world a better place. Sheesh.

Kevin Drum 12:39 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (143)

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Just what we need, a bush centrist democratic apologist blogger with the eyes of an eagle, the reflexes of a cat, and the large unused brain of a republican. Is that what you mean by "Political Animal?"

/Kidding.

Posted by: jerry on February 1, 2006 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

!!

Posted by: PW on February 1, 2006 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

We better ban pig heart valves too...so I guess that means Darth Cheney and his bum ticker are shit outta luck. Oh well. And if human-animal hybrids are out then where's does that leave our fearful Chimperor?

Posted by: ckelly on February 1, 2006 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

" I was hoping that scientists were working on outfitting me with . . . the reflexes of a cat."

Umm . . . if someone twitches a string, you'd pounce on it? Is that really useful?

Posted by: Dan S. on February 1, 2006 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Not a lot of people know this, but the leech industry is quietly the third biggest lobby in Washington. What is happening is Bush just selling out to them so that most cures go back to bloodletting, and leeches. And for all you animal-human freaks out there well season 1 of Manimal should be released on DVD soon.

Posted by: Jeremy on February 1, 2006 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

But where does he stand on Cylons?

Posted by: Marcus Wellby on February 1, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Yup, we can bomb babies to hell and back, well mostly just to hell; but we better not try to cure their diseaes. That would be immoral.

Our great nation so sucks.

Posted by: Keith G on February 1, 2006 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, since Man is a Special Creation, nothing from animals has any bearing on us. There Is No Similarity between soulful Republican humans and the base animals!

Posted by: Gore/Obama '08 on February 1, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, that's kind of disappointing. I was hoping that scientists were working on outfitting me with the eyes of an eagle and the reflexes of a cat.
Kevin Drum

Me, I'd settle for a ortho that doesn't think it's foolish to put a new ACL and cartilage in a 47-year old knee.

Posted by: Jeff II on February 1, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

What was that business about selling human embryos? Is that the latest version of the old "profit-driven abortion mills" TP?

Posted by: shortstop on February 1, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

SOTU was a triumph of the false dichotomy. Either you support the war or you support isolationism. Either you agree with the President on stem cell research or you support human-animal hybrids.

Not particularly inspiring stuff.

Posted by: JR on February 1, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

I've read up on that research with mice, and it sounds good to me. One article discussed the controversy of putting human genes in mice, and the scientists pointed out that on the level of this research, we weren't talking about talking mice. No different than genetic engineering in plants, really.

One article I read on the subject had what had to be the creepiest line I ever read, though:

"The mice will be destroyed if they show any sign of human traits."

"Help meeeeeeee...."

Posted by: tbrosz on February 1, 2006 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe I give too much credit for Bush (and for people in general) but couldn't Bush be referring to hybrids that are not related to legitimate medical research? I also thought 'wtf?!' when I heard him say it, but I guess he could be aiming this at unlikely propositions like making a baby with eagle eyes, which is preposterous, and yet strike a chord with some of his supporters who would oppose such thing but are not sophisticated enough (my, now I drew the knife) to realize this is not likely to happen, like, ever.

Posted by: Brazil Connection on February 1, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately in the present atmosphere - I wouldn't trust private laboratories to tell us the truth!

Would you?

they will do what is profitable... forget the milk of human kindness... I don't trust bush and I don't trust 'labs' ...

these aren't humanitarians - they are capitalist scientists... and who knows what they are doin

Posted by: Tj on February 1, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

George Bush, by his actions, doesn't seem to want the world to be a better place. He too often acts against the poor and helpless.

Posted by: LeisureGuy on February 1, 2006 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

God-schmod, I want my monkey-man!

Posted by: Vladi G on February 1, 2006 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

Jeff II:

Tj/Ashley showing up reminds me: Step back into the "War on Terror" thread to see why we're arguing that while it's perfectly possible to criticize Israel without being anti-Semitic, Ashley/Tj isn't one such case.

Posted by: shortstop on February 1, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Bush is a chimera of a human being and a War Pig.

I do an excellent mimic of The Fly chimera's 'help me, help me' by the by.

Posted by: Hostile on February 1, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

But at least we know now that Bush's little ears are merely caricatures of a pig's.

Posted by: koreyel on February 1, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

"The mice will be destroyed if they show any sign of human traits."

hmmm

Posted by: cleek on February 1, 2006 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

BC: ...I guess he could be aiming this at unlikely propositions like making a baby with eagle eyes, which is preposterous, and yet strike a chord with some of his supporters who would oppose such thing but are not sophisticated enough (my, now I drew the knife) to realize this is not likely to happen, like, ever.

Sweet thing, the entire speech was designed to strike a chord with supporters who are not sophisticated enough to recognize that half of it was vapid patriotic blow-the-bugles tripe without any concrete meaning, and the other half was outright lies. So you can keep that knife out.

Posted by: shortstop on February 1, 2006 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

Many scientists and philosophers are concerned about implanting animal parts into human beings. Mostly their concerns have to do with specie specific diseases crossing over to the human realm.

Posted by: Powrpuff on February 1, 2006 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately, if you grafted in the cat reflexes gene, it would require you to sleep 20 hours a day. That would never work for a blogger.

Posted by: stand on February 1, 2006 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

No No No He's talking about closing down the Island of Dr. Moreau.
I thought that was obvious.

Posted by: Lurker42 on February 1, 2006 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, I was kind of waiting for the penis of a donkey.

Posted by: c4logic on February 1, 2006 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

What? Is no-one going to defend Denmark? The French and Germans have more balls than Americans?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4670370.stm

Posted by: mohammad on February 1, 2006 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Hey tbrosz, did you see that picture of that MIT mouse that had a human ear growing out of its back (it was in Time magazine years and years ago). It was an early foray into the world of tissue engineering, from what I remember. As a physicist working to build theories in the life sciences I definitely have all the respect in the world for these engineers who are taking on such a difficult task, but that was definitely one of the creepiest pictures I've seen in my whole life!

Posted by: reader on February 1, 2006 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Found the actual quote from an old post of mine elsewhere. The original news story link is long gone, and I'm not ambitious enough today to dig it up again.

In January, an informal ethics committee at Stanford University endorsed a proposal to create mice with brains nearly completely made of human brain cells. Stem cell scientist Irving Weissman said his experiment could provide unparalleled insight into how the human brain develops and how degenerative brain diseases like Parkinson's progress.

Stanford law professor Hank Greely, who chaired the ethics committee, said the board was satisfied that the size and shape of the mouse brain would prevent the human cells from creating any traits of humanity.
Just in case, Greely said, the committee recommended closely monitoring the mice's behavior and immediately killing any that display human-like behavior.

Wow. That's even creepier.

Posted by: tbrosz on February 1, 2006 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

This means that any potential Dr. Moreaus out there will have to exist under the radar. Not that I thought a mad scientist usually sought approval of the U.S. government before jumping-off the deep end.

Posted by: rusrus on February 1, 2006 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

He overheard some guys talking about "Dark Angel", and didn't realize that it was a TV show. He is angrily calling up random pentagon departments to find out who was in charge of such a project. Everyone is afraid to tell him the truth now. They will probably have to mock up a lab just so they can make a big deal about shutting it down.

OR - maybe he misunderstood Man-on-dog Santorum.

Or maybe he's just afraid horse riding will cut into oil industry profits, and as he understands the lingo, that is a hybrid vehicle.

Really, the possibilities are endless with this man. I'm sure the truth is even more ridiculous than anything we can imagine.

Posted by: Mysticdog on February 1, 2006 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting. I work with people who knock-out and knock-in human genes into animals for their main focus. I would never consider this to be animal-human hybrids.

I insert human genes into bacteria routinely to study the protein products. Does this mean that Bush would want to ban that? Because almost all of biomedical science would vanish if that sort of thing were illegal. I assumed he was talking about giving me wings so that I didn't have to drink Red Bull anymore.

Posted by: gq on February 1, 2006 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

No No No He's talking about closing down the Island of Dr. Moreau. I thought that was obvious.
Posted by: Lurker42

Did you see the South Park take on this - the remake movie with a Marlon Brando lisping his way through it? LOL funny.

Posted by: Jeff II on February 1, 2006 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

I bet he'd be all for it if there was a military application.

Hmmmm, how about an expendible soldier that can be grown quickly, doesn't get to vote, and always follows orders.

Double hmmm, make that slightly dumber and weaker and you could replace Congress.

Posted by: Jim Ramsey on February 1, 2006 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, that's not really all that they're up to. If you saw the piece in the NY Times magazine ealier last year, you'd see that some scientists are considering combinations far more radical than that. Bush might be giving a shout-out to the right, but I think it's unfair to be so dismissive of the issue. If you're curious, read more about it here:

http://threewisemen.blogspot.com/2005/04/animal-made-human.html

And here:

http://threewisemen.blogspot.com/2005/04/animal-made-human-pt-ii.html

Posted by: Alexander Wolfe on February 1, 2006 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

If this is the case Kevin, we've had mouse/human hybrids for many years now. We routinely work with transgenic mice that express a human major histocompatibility complex. There are trangenic mice that express the human activin betaE subunit for pancreas research. Other human genes expressed in mice include human FSHbeta gene, human IGHV, human alpha-globin, human apolipoprotein A-II.....I could go on but hopefully the point is made. BTW we have human genes expressed in fruit flies also (help me!)

Posted by: cq on February 1, 2006 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Don't they already do some useful things with transplanting organs from apes? Would this kind of life-saving operation be illegal under Bushlaw inc?

Posted by: polychrome on February 1, 2006 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

The National Taxpayers Union reported that this State of the Union proposed a mere $91 million in additional spending. All the problems our country faces, and this was all Bush could think of? Just another example of his allegiance to tax cuts run amok.

Posted by: David on February 1, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Does this mean the angry mob who tried to kill the lizard kid on "Surface" was right after all?

Posted by: trex on February 1, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Whatever Tbrosz. I have good friends in Irv Weissman's lab and your 10th grade understanding of what they are trying to do is embarassing.

But I can't wait for the day when I can have a pet esquilax...

Posted by: gq on February 1, 2006 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

i predict big layoffs down at the Genetic Engineering Ranch.

stupid GOP, always pushing the good jobs offshore.

Posted by: cleek on February 1, 2006 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

I think he has to propose this sort of ban. To do otherwise would admit that intelligent design by the perfect designer wasn't so perfect.
It was more code for the evangelicas who haven't gotten as much out of this guy as they'd hoped.

Posted by: TJM on February 1, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Long post - so sue me

Once again, Kevin takes a serious issue and reduces it to a bad joke, never even addressing the ethical implications that most any thinking being would have to admit exist. While Kevin feels the President did this as merely , "a garden variety shout out to the religious right," (while providing no substantiating evidence at all to buttress his opinion), his readers should at least be aware of the ethical implications of this type of research. Once again Kevin does those of his readers who are uninformed a huge disservice by not even attempting to explain what the hubbub is all about, or, once again, failing to explain the other side's viewpoint.

It is quite disconcerting and troubling to find that one of the 'left's brightest' is so blissfully unaware of this type of research. Am I to formulate my opinions about the ethics behind this research based on the musings of someone who was unaware that this is even occurring as of last night? In the interest of edumacating Kevin, I've cut and pasted a bit of an article that he can peruse to at least pretend he knows what he is writing about.

"Creating human-animal chimeras ... has raised troubling questions: What new subhuman combination should be produced and for what purpose? At what point would it be considered human? And what rights, if any, should it have? There are currently no U.S. federal laws that address these issues."

[Not an issue for Kevin; he's always been for industries doing whatever they want, willy nilly and free from regulation.]

Biotechnology activist Jeremy Rifkin is opposed to crossing species boundaries, because he believes animals have the right to exist without being tampered with or crossed with another species.

[Kevin doesn't agree that animals have the right to exist without being crossed with another species.]

... "One doesn't have to be religious or into animal rights to think this doesn't make sense." ...

[Not according to Kevin, only the religious right, apparently, has any concerns about this research.]

David Magnus, director of the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics at Stanford University, believes the real worry is whether or not chimeras will be put to uses that are problematic, risky, or dangerous. ... For example, an experiment that would raise concerns, he said, is genetically engineering mice to produce human sperm and eggs, then doing in vitro fertilization to produce a child whose parents are a pair of mice.

[Though not likely to happen, I would find this problematic. No such problem for Kevin - genetically engineer away!]

... Last year Canada passed the Assisted Human Reproduction Act, which bans chimeras. Specifically, it prohibits transferring a nonhuman cell into a human embryo and putting human cells into a nonhuman embryo.

[Apparently, this was nothing but a huge shout out to the religious right in the Great White North.]

But, she noted, the wording on such a ban needs to be developed carefully. It shouldn't outlaw ethical and legitimate experimentssuch as transferring a limited number of adult human stem cells into animal embryos in order to learn how they proliferate and grow during the prenatal period. ...

[This type of nuance and complexity is beyond Kevin, apparently. Who needs to worry about the careful wording of a ban? We don't need no stinking ban.]

Weissman has already created mice with brains that are about one percent human. Later this year he may conduct another experiment where the mice have 100 percent human brains. This would be done, he said, by injecting human neurons into the brains of embryonic mice. Before being born, the mice would be killed and dissected to see if the architecture of a human brain had formed. If it did, he'd look for traces of human cognitive behavior.

[So there's a chance that we'd be killing a creature with human cognitive abilities - but that doesn't raise any issues, apparently, for Kevin.]

The test has not yet begun. Weissman is waiting to read the National Academy's report, due out in March.

[Even this fellow is willing to wait for a study examining the ethics of this type of research. But Kevin Ethics-be-Damned Drum says full speed ahead and damn the studies.]

William Cheshire, associate professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic's Jacksonville, Florida, branch, feels that combining human and animal neurons is problematic.

[Couldn't we please influence Kevin enough to admit this?]

"This is unexplored biologic territory," he said. "Whatever moral threshold of human neural development we might choose to set as the limit for such an experiment, there would be a considerable risk of exceeding that limit before it could be recognized."

[Kevin, apparently, would not choose to examine any limits at all on the appropriate threshold of human neural development in an animal.]

Cheshire supports research that combines human and animal cells to study cellular function. As an undergraduate he participated in research that fused human and mouse cells. But where he draws the ethical line is on research that would destroy a human embryo to obtain cells, or research that would create an organism that is partly human and partly animal.

[Seems reasonable to me, Kevin, apparently, thinks this is crazy talk.]

"We must be cautious not to violate the integrity of humanity or of animal life over which we have a stewardship responsibility," said Cheshire, a member of Christian Medical and Dental Associations. "Research projects that create human-animal chimeras risk disturbing fragile ecosystems, endanger health, and affront species integrity."


The topic at hand here is much more complex than Kevin would lead you to believe. It is not a simple case of the religious right trying to stop medical research. No matter what Kevin thinks there ARE ethical and moral issues involved with this type of research. Readers should take the time to study up elsewhere because, apparently, it doesn't seem like you're gonna get anything even close to resembling a fair, complete picture here.

How silly is this? "I was hoping that scientists were working on outfitting me with the eyes of an eagle and the reflexes of a cat. But instead they're just working on curing disease and making the world a better place." As if such work never crosses ethical boundaries - sophomoric.

PS Spare me the "a mice with a human brain would have 10X the brains you have' jokes - or come up with something a bit more creative ...

Posted by: jerry on February 1, 2006 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Rats! I figured that I'll be in my mid-seventies before Bush's bold energy policies start taking effect and, in the meantime, I could possibly order up a custom designed sub-human creature with strong rhino thighs to push and drive my car ala Fred Flintstone.

Posted by: bryrock on February 1, 2006 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

William Cheshire, associate professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic's Jacksonville, Florida, branch, feels that combining human and animal neurons is problematic.Posted by: jerry

Okay, jer. How about we all just go Dr. Mengele and start using human subjects? The current anti-progress GOP in charge has put something of a chill on meaningful genetic experimentation (remember, that's how things are figured out in science), so I guess that's our only option. You've got to be our first ALF troll.

Posted by: Jeff II on February 1, 2006 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

A postal worker goes postal and kills 7 plus herself. The President comes out four square against pig/human hybrids. Am I awake or am I dreaming an episode of the X files?

Seriously, does the President have anybody on his staff who has ever studied science, anywhere. They can't all be Yalies or Heritage Foundation Alums?

Posted by: Ron Byers on February 1, 2006 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

Just in case, Greely said, the committee recommended closely monitoring the mice's behavior and immediately killing any that display human-like behavior.

Well they blew that one. On of their mice ended up in the White House.

Posted by: craigie on February 1, 2006 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz, whether they're human brain cells or not makes absolutely no difference. I humbly submit the following dialog for your review:

One example--prominently featured in When Elephants Weep--is Alex, Pepperberg's African gray, a parrot with a nasty fear of veterinarians.

"Alex had to be left at the vet for an operation once," Masson retells the tale. "When Irene started to leave, Alex screamed out, 'Stop! Please! Don't go! I love you! Come back!'

"She says there's no way Alex knew those individual words--he didn't know the word 'I,' he didn't know the phrase 'come back'--but somehow he managed to piece that together, and he got both the words and the music correct. What he was really trying to say was something emotional: 'Don't leave me, don't abandon me, I need you.' And that was unmistakably his message.

"I had a parrot that used to bite my girlfriend's toes," I offer. "He was insanely jealous. He'd chew up her shoes when she wasn't looking."

"Parrots are among the most emotional of animals," he affirms, appreciatively. "They can be very jealous, they can get embarrassed, they can be humiliated, they can be lonely. They get nostalgic and pine for lost loved ones."

Norweigan Blues even pine for the fjords...

Posted by: David W. on February 1, 2006 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

So these people boast to Ron Suskind that "we create our own reality" when what they are really doing is lifting paranoid fantasies from "The Island of Dr. Moreau" and "Attack of the Clones."

Jeez, guys, if you just wanna boost a fantasy, learn to speak Elvish. You'll do a lot less damage in the long run...

Posted by: Roddy McCorley on February 1, 2006 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

This is old news. The Weekly World News has been reporting on these human-animal hybrids for years. There is even a book out, "Bat Boy Lives" describing one such hybrid in great detail. WWN consistently has the best and most up to date reporting on this and many other subjects.

Posted by: Bud on February 1, 2006 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

No matter what Kevin thinks there ARE ethical and moral issues involved with this type of research. Readers should take the time to study up elsewhere because, apparently, it doesn't seem like you're gonna get anything even close to resembling a fair, complete picture here.

err... this isn't a bio-ethics blog.

Posted by: cleek on February 1, 2006 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

jerry: Long post - so sue me.

We're not a litigious bunch, so we'll just ignore you.

Posted by: shortstop on February 1, 2006 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

"No matter what Kevin thinks there ARE ethical and moral issues involved with this type of research. Readers should take the time to study up elsewhere because, apparently, it doesn't seem like you're gonna get anything even close to resembling a fair, complete picture here."

Of course there are, but they don't deserve attention in the President's state of the union speech.

The President has such a simple minded view of the world that he is likely to screw up. The President only sees the world in black and white. You are either for us or you are against us. You are either for the war in Iraq or you are an isolationist. You are either for the NSA spying program or you want to aid the terrorists. Ethical considerations involve shades of gray. Ethics only rarely comes in black and white.

Instead of taking this issue on, he should leave it for the grownups.

Posted by: Ron Byers on February 1, 2006 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmmm, how about an expendable soldier that can be grown quickly, doesn't get to vote, and always follows orders.

How is that different, excluding the grown quickly and voting, from the automatons obeying Bush now? War pigs do not need to implant animal genes into humans to obtain expendable soldiers. All they have to do is promise electrical engineers raw Iraqi childrens' livers.

Posted by: Hostile on February 1, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

I'm on the side of the mice.

Thanks to Jesse Helms, mice and rats, who are more than 90% of the animals used in biological research, are excluded from the federal Animal Welfare Act which regulates the treatment of animals used in laboratories.

Congress originally passed the Animal Welfare Act with language explicitly applying it to "all warm-blooded animals". The USDA, which is charged with enforcement of the AWA, arbitrarily issued regulations that excluded mice and rats from the AWA, as a result of pressure from the research animal breeding lobby.

Animal protectionists fought a years-long legal battle to compel the USDA to cover mice and rats and issue new regulations accordingly. When a federal judge indicated that she was going to rule in favor of the animal protectionists and order USDA to issue the regulations, USDA agreed out of court to do so. Not long after that, Helms added an amendment to an agriculture bill which changed the AWA and specifically excluded mice and rats by statute.

This needs to be changed.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 1, 2006 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Jerry: quoting Rifkin hardly inspires confidence.
I've actually read two of his books. One is Algeny (an utterly confused attack on the theory of evolution); it is at least distinguished from the creationist norm because it is an attack from the left. His objections were silly and his alternative so muddled that I couldn't figure it out.

The other is Entropy, which to a physicist is hilarious; it is a long excursion into misunderstanding the laws of thermodynamics. My personal favorite part is the bit where he encourages people to think simple thoughts to avoid runaway entropy growth. Based on these two samples, at least he practices what he preaches.

Before we go any further, I'd like to understand whether you are opposed in principle to animal research. Suffice it to say that there are an awful lot of areas of biomedical research, and drug creation, that could be absolutely shut down by the simplest form of such a proposed ban. Most folks wouldn't support these things...

Posted by: Marc on February 1, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Help meeeeee, Help meeeeeee!

Posted by: on February 1, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

But, but, didn't God refuse to allow the retards and the crippled near him? Bush is only doing what God would want done, no? What a f***ing idiot.

Posted by: bubba on February 1, 2006 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

Georgie is just trying to prevent a legion of mutant uber-mice from taking over, and all you guys can do is mock.

If for one welcome our mutant mouse overlords.

Posted by: Bob on February 1, 2006 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Careful what you ask for, Kevin.

In addition to the eyes of an eagle and the reflexes of a cat you might also have to take the nose of a bloodhound. And hairballs.

Posted by: Rick B on February 1, 2006 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Secular - almost all labs using mice and rats are now inspected by ALAC. It makes it easier to get Federal Grant funding. Believe me, it's not easy passing an ALAC inspection.

Posted by: cq on February 1, 2006 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

No, you guys miss the *real* point.

It's the genetically and behaviorally engineered sex pets with the human squishy parts patched in that Bush doesn't like ...

Why just ask ... Rick Santorum.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 1, 2006 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Bob, does Rick want a humanized dog to have sex with or what?

Posted by: cq on February 1, 2006 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

War pigs do not need to implant animal genes into humans to obtain expendable soldiers. All they have to do is promise electrical engineers raw Iraqi childrens' livers.

Now that's good satire. Keep it up, Hostile. Tell us what liberals REALLY think.

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 1, 2006 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK
mice's behavior that display human-like behavior. Posted by: tbrosz
Human-like behavior in a mouse would be denoted by sequacious subservience to leaders whose Hollywood imagery projects a strong, authoritarian persona. Posted by: Mike on February 1, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

I do not speak for liberals, but my comment is what I think of electrical engineers, who love to lick the blood off of dead childrens' genitals after scorching them with homemade devices.

Posted by: Hostile on February 1, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

I do not speak for liberals, but my comment is what I think of electrical engineers, who love to lick the blood off of dead childrens' genitals after scorching them with homemade devices.

Posted by: Hostile on February 1, 2006 at 2:30 PM

Huh?

Posted by: Brazil Connection on February 1, 2006 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

cq:

The dreadful image in the heads of Bush's supporters is a genetically engineered collie with a human vagina, with functioning nerve endings so that the thing just *lives* to be plooked by humans ...

They must prevent this at all costs, as it spells the downfall of civilization.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 1, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

cq wrote: almost all labs using mice and rats are now inspected by ALAC. It makes it easier to get Federal Grant funding. Believe me, it's not easy passing an ALAC inspection.

I expect that you and I could have a lengthy discussion of laboratory animal welfare issues, but I don't think it would be appropriate for this site. I would note that ALAC inspection is voluntary and that ALAC has no enforcement power.

However, as food for thought, I suggest you take a look at these two links to PETA's investigation of the treatment of laboratory mice at the University of North Carolina:

PETA's original investigation:

UNC-Chapel Hill receives millions in taxpayer dollars, yet, as PETA can now show, does not provide even the minimal standards of care to animals used in federally funded research as required by the NIH Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (Guide). Chronic understaffing, incompetence, indifference, neglect, and outright cruelty have resulted in the denial of such basic needs as adequate space, food, water, veterinary care, and even a humane death to rats and mice at UNC. Many have been subjected to severe trauma, prolonged suffering, and agonizingly slow and grisly deaths, not only contradicting Sen. Helms declarations of their humane treatment, but ultimately calling into question the legitimacy of test results at UNC.

PETA's second investigation, following up on the actions taken (and not taken) by UNC persuant to the investigation by NIH's Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare, which was prompted by PETA's first investigation and formal complaint to NIH:

A PETA undercover investigator went back inside the University of North Carolina (UNC), Chapel Hill, laboratories one year after we documented callous disregard and outright abuse of animals there. Had UNC cleaned up its act, given that hundreds of millions of dollars in research funds were at stake? No. In contrast to what UNC had assured the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the government agency that investigated our charges, we still found the animals severely overcrowded, left without veterinary care, and killed inhumanely.

Pressure from the government, which opened its own investigation after PETA filed its first complaint, and news reports showing our footage of animals living and dying in misery made a difference but apparently only on paper. Our second investigator, hired to work in the same building and on some of the same experiments from January through November 2003, found that UNC has lied outright to NIH about cleaning up its act.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 1, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

I think of electrical engineers, who love to lick the blood off of dead childrens' genitals after scorching them with homemade devices.

Someone's been watching too many of those new-fangled torture flicks. Either that or 24.

Posted by: Bob on February 1, 2006 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Here's the perfect response to Bush's remarks: Get PETA to praise him for standing up for the rights of lab animals.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on February 1, 2006 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Daryl:

Now if we could only get ELF to endorse his energy policy ... :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 1, 2006 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Well,what if those eggheads actually come up with some cures or treatments for the less fortunatefor gods sake, the next thing you know they will want us to help pay for it also. The very nerve of these progressives.

Posted by: Ben Merc on February 1, 2006 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

Hostile, you always go too far and tip your hand.

rmck1, cut it the fuck out! I haven't slept since Monday and you're ensuring that I won't tonight! Ucccccccccch!

Daryl, that was damn funny!

Posted by: shortstop on February 1, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Hostile, you always go too far and tip your hand.

rmck1, cut it the fuck out! I haven't slept since Monday and you're ensuring that I won't tonight! Ucccccccccch!

Daryl, that was damn funny!

Posted by: shortstop on February 1, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Secular, If you don't follow ALAC recommendations you don't get ALAC approval. No ALAC approval, much more paper work needs to be completed to get an NIH grant. And, why would you pay ALAC $13,000 a year just to ignore their recommendations?

Posted by: cq on February 1, 2006 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop:

Actually, it would be really worse if it were the ... other way around.

I mean sheesh, you couldn't walk the poor thing in public :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 1, 2006 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Marc:

"Before we go any further, I'd like to understand whether you are opposed in principle to animal research."

Thanks for replying and I most certainly am not opposed to animal research. I wonder why you would even ask such a question? What was it in my post that even gave you a hint that I oppose all animal research?

Could it be that Kevin and others of his ilk are effectively painting a false picture of those who would wonder about the moral and ethical implications of this research? We are not all religious fundamentalists, PETA whackos, or conservative politicos trying to appeal to their base, and it is precisely this type of stereotyping that I am attemtping to subvert by posting here.

It seems to me that Kevin creates an environment where supportive readers are not fully informed and they are, in essence, encouraged to dismiss as insane whackos, those who hold a contrary opinion. This can only happen when readers are not presented with the whole truth about a topic. When people are not fully informed they tend to develop irrational fears and dehumanize and demonize their adversaries.

In this case, Kevin helps to create an environment where those who question the morality of certain types of research are naturally assumed to be close-minded religious fanatics. At the very least, that's Kevin's assumption, and I can only assume after reading the posts here, that his readers feel the same. What a pity.

Marc, further, I never wrote that I support a ban on this or any other research. My point was that there ARE moral and ethical implications that deserve a reasoned discussion - you won't get that from Kevin, apparently. Those who wonder about such things do not deserve to be stereotyped, as Kevin has, as religious fanatics.

Jeff II: I do not propose we start experimenting on humans - buy a clue.

Posted by: jerry on February 1, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Jerry, we experiment on humans ALL the time. In fact 'Research America!' claims humans are used as research subjects more than animals are. I guess it depends on what you mean by 'research'.

Posted by: cq on February 1, 2006 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Two hours of comments and still no reference to this?

-- Gee, Brain what do you want to do tonight?

-- The same thing we do every night Pinky. Try to take over the world!

Posted by: drdrang on February 1, 2006 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

jerry: Sorry for my earlier snappishness. I'm a little out of sorts these days and was overreacting to what I felt was a condescending couple of opening paragraphs. Mea culpa.

Posted by: shortstop on February 1, 2006 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, does anybody know if this is real??

http://petakillsanimals.com/

Posted by: Lurker42 on February 1, 2006 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

I do not speak for liberals, but my comment is what I think of electrical engineers, who love to lick the blood off of dead childrens' genitals after scorching them with homemade devices.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha.

You have to watch South Park to get satire like this, people.

Hostile, my hat's off to you--you have brilliantly executed the perfect freeper move on a liberal blog. Don't forget to point out that blood actually has a salty taste to it next time, eh?

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 1, 2006 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

jerry: Once again, Kevin takes a serious issue and reduces it to a bad joke, never even addressing the ethical implications that most any thinking being would have to admit exist.

I agree with Ron Byers at 1:51 PM and others who have noted the same. A topic more relevant for a WH press release that consumed 83 words in the SOTU I think gives Kevin license to characterize Bush's inclusion of the subject as a "shout out" to the RR. Animal hybrids is not a topic you'll see Americans shouting out as their top of mind priorities for the nation. You know the economy, Iraq, terrorism, and the ever-curious, what about Katrina?

Let's look at Bush's words in context of Senatoria santorum:

BUSH: A hopeful society has institutions of science and medicine that do not cut ethical corners and that recognize the matchless value of every life.
OK, Bush leads off with the "value of every life" rhetoric so often heard in the hot debate over the "unborn." If I'm a cynic I think still the political operator in cahoots with his evil twin Rove, Dubya adds the appropriate RTL embellishment to resonate with his base. Simple. Heard it before. Bush has slipped in approval, don't you know? Now comes Bush's direct request in 38 words:
Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research: human cloning in all its forms; creating or implanting embryos for experiments; creating human-animal hybrids; and buying, selling or patenting human embryos.
Compared to my priorities and those of most Americans, when I heard Bush speak these words, I thought, WTF does that have to do with our nation's most pressing issues? I mean, WTF! Did I tune into The Onion's version of the SOTU?

To wind up the subject, Bush injects God specifically into the hybrid controversy:

Human life is a gift from our creator, and that gift should never be discarded, devalued or put up for sale.

"...a gift from our creator." Yeah, that's a shout out to the faithful though I, a liberal, and you may or may not find this shocking, was not offended. Pews says Americans love God talk so, of course, there it is in the SOTU. I don't begrudge such rhetoric. However, the Bush camp wasn't so kind to Kerry alleging that he used the Bible as a political weapon. So, goose, gander.

I think Kevin's sarcasm is appropriate. This is a political blog. Yes, of course, to your point, discussion and debate are in order. But 83 words in the SOTU when we are at war, up to our eyeballs in record deficits, five months away from hurricane season, and still vulnerable at our borders? C'mon. GMAB. I mean WTF!

Posted by: Apollo 13 on February 1, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

If such creation of transgenic animals was really what Bush was talking about when he was talking about "human-animal hybrids", then there is a real conflict with his supposed enhanced commitment to basic research. Because, really, what sense does it make to throw more money at "basic research" while throwing out some of the most productive modern tools of research? Well, besides increasing government waste?

Posted by: cmdicely on February 1, 2006 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

MAD SCIENTISTS AND PIG MEN

What about SHEEP MEN? Anyone remember Malcolm McDowell's character of Mick Travis in Lindsay Anderson's 1973 film O Lucky Man? Mating his head to a sheep's body?

Posted by: karog on February 1, 2006 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

A few years ago, Rick Weiss, the excellent science reporter for The Washington Post, wrote a series of articles about a controversy over medical research experiments performed on retarded humans. The experiments were potentially harmful to the subject, and if I recall correctly had been in some cases actually harmful to the subjects. Since the subjects were severely retarded, they were unable to understand the risks or give informed consent to their participation in the research -- hence the ethical controversy.

What was interesting to me was the comments of the researchers, whose arguments in favor of performing the research on human subjects unable to give informed consent were almost word-for-word the same arguments that I have heard so many times in support of experimenting on animals -- basically that it was ethical to perform harmful experiments on retarded humans because of the potential, eventual benefits to others.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 1, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Reflexes of a cat are great, but which cat? Ink Blot or Jasmine?

Posted by: KevStar on February 1, 2006 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder if these 'transgenic animals' could be developed to save people from drowning in another hurricane/flood/levee breach situation.

Finally, the Bush Administration starts trying to come up with a way to defend America against the scourge of standing water.

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 1, 2006 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

SA do you know that it is now much more difficult to do research on animals, as far as paperwork and hoop jumping and committee approval etc, than it is to do research on humans?

Posted by: cq on February 1, 2006 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

" I would note that ALAC inspection is voluntary and that ALAC has no enforcement power."

Please, you obviously have never worked in the Bio-pharma industry. AAALAC may be voluntary, but it cites you for non-compliance and the next guest at your door is the USDA, and the USDA inspections are compulsory, as is FDA inspections which can shut down a facility by just stating, "You are to stop, now". And when it reaches that point, there is usually a dozen or so US marshall's backing them up. Bottom line is when it comes to animal research for medicine, the rules are stringent and uncompromising.

http://history.nih.gov/01Docs/historical/2020d.htm
http://www.nal.usda.gov/awic/legislat/usdaleg1.htm

Posted by: sheerahkahn on February 1, 2006 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

Don't forget to point out that blood actually has a salty taste to it next time, eh?

I would not know, since I am not an electrical engineer, but it makes sense, since so many ee's like the flavor.

Posted by: Hostile on February 1, 2006 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

"What was interesting to me was the comments of the researchers, whose arguments in favor of performing the research on human subjects unable to give informed consent were almost word-for-word the same arguments that I have heard so many times in support of experimenting on animals -- basically that it was ethical to perform harmful experiments on retarded humans because of the potential, eventual benefits to others."

Interesting if true. Citations? Links?

Posted by: sheerahkahn on February 1, 2006 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

The Top 10 State of the Union highlights:

1. Demonize the Democrats
2. Bait the Base
3. Cognitive Dissonance and the Bush Doctrine
4. Delicious Irony, Tehran Edition
5. Bitch Slapped on Social Security
6. What Health Care Plan?
7. Energy Crisis?
8. Pandering to African-Americans
9. Gang Banger Laura Bush?
10. Katrina and the Waves

Posted by: AvengingAngel on February 1, 2006 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research: human cloning in all its forms; creating or implanting embryos for experiments; creating human-animal hybrids; and buying, selling or patenting human embryos.

Compared to my priorities and those of most Americans, when I heard Bush speak these words, I thought, WTF does that have to do with our nation's most pressing issues? I mean, WTF! Did I tune into The Onion's version of the SOTU? Posted by: Apollo 13

I agree. I think this might have been this years Mars exploration nonsense. Just another thing to divert the easily divertable MSM and American public. Pay no attention to that jackass behind the curtain!

Posted by: Jeff II on February 1, 2006 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

In all seriousness, I do think that jerry makes a point that there are genuine ethical issues here which Bush's base are particularly susceptible to angsting over. I mean ... that mouse with the human ear sticking out of its back ... *shudder*. Useful or not, I think most of us would agree that's frickin' creepy.

Regardless of the objective utility of any of this research (and ethically, it does extend all the way down to routine human disease gene splicing into mice, etc.), the Human Life Brigade are going to be especially freaked by it.

Where the actual ethical lines should be drawn would take a discussion a lot more nuanced than what Bush blabbered about last night ...

In political terms, it's just another red meat straw man -- speaking of gene-spliced metaphors :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 1, 2006 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

sheerahkahn: ... the next guest at your door is the USDA, and the USDA inspections are compulsory,

More than 90% of animals used in research are mice and rats, which as I noted in a previous comment, are excluded by statute (thanks to Jesse Helms and the research animal breeder lobby) from coverage under the Animal Welfare Act, and therefore not subject to inspection or enforcement by the USDA which enforces the AWA.

as is FDA inspections which can shut down a facility by just stating, "You are to stop, now". And when it reaches that point, there is usually a dozen or so US marshall's backing them up.

I'd like to know of one example of US Marshalls shutting down an animal research facility.

Bottom line is when it comes to animal research for medicine, the rules are stringent and uncompromising.

Rules that are "stringent and uncompromising" are of little value if they are ignored and not enforced. I suggest you look at the links I posted above, regarding PETA's investigation of mistreatment of mice at the University of North Carolina, the NIH's investigation of UNC in response to PETA's complaint, and PETA's followup investigation which revealed UNC's failure to comply with the remedies that NIH directed them to take.

I would also suggest that you read up on the Coulston Foundation, whose mistreatment of non-human primates (species typically of more ethical concern to my fellow humans than are mice) resulted in numerous primate deaths, and went on for years in blatant defiance of the USDA, while NIH continued to fund Coulston with millions of dollars in taxpayer funds. Coulston was eventually shut down. The animal protection organization In Defense of Animals (IDA) led the fight to shut down the Coulston Foundation and has a lot of information about this case.

I am not claiming that the gross misdeeds of UNC and Coulston are typical of the animal research industry, only that such behaviour can and does occur, all too often, is all too often allowed to continue due to lax enforcement by government agencies more responsive to pressure from the research lobby than to the animal welfare laws they are supposed to enforce, and is all too often defended or whitewashed by other "responsible" animal researchers, who should instead be the ones most vigorously weeding out the "bad actors" in their industry.

Regarding your query about the Rick Weiss articles I mentioned, I cited those from memory. I don't have a link. I may have clippings somewhere (I have followed news in this area for years). I'll see what I can dig up at some point and get back to you. Meanwhile it is entirely appropriate for you to take my comment with a grain of salt until I can find the documentation.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 1, 2006 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

Bush was not as far out as a first reading would reveal. Check out these two articles:

Mother Jones
Gods and Monsters
Talking apes, flying pigs, superhumans with armadillo attributes, and other strange considerations of Dr. Stuart Newman's fight to patent a human/animal chimera
By Mark Dowie
January/February 2004 Issue
http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2004/01/12_401.html

NYT Magazine
The Other Stem-Cell Debate
By JAMIE SHREEVE
Published: April 10, 2005
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/10/magazine/10CHIMERA.html

also at
http://www.udel.edu/anthro/ackerman/stemcell.pdf

Posted by: Jesse on February 1, 2006 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

There is a historical connection between the anti-science left and the anti-science right. Both draw on the tradition of romanticism which values faith, mystery and the wholeness of untainted Nature. To vivisect, rationalize, reduce, transfect are crimes against wholeness. We cannot become alienated from Nature if we are to maintain our identity as human beings or Gods children. Nor can our souls be disembodied and demythogized by the scientist laboring away in his laboratory. Frankenstein is the icon of this movement in its secular form. If you read the writings of Leon Kass, Bushs bioethics commissioner, you will realize he is arguing from the left for right-wing causes. The opposition to GMOs, stem cells, and abortion come from the same view of timeless Nature.

For me the student movement of the 60s and the 4th Great Awakening that roused the religious right are all part of a broader anti-modernist reaction to the severe rationalism of industrial modernization and the reduction of life to statistics and processes.

Posted by: bellumregio on February 1, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of Down Syndrome & the "religious right", did you know there has been a DRAMATIC decrease in the number of childrern born with Down Syndrome over the last 15 years!!!!!

Do you know why?

Care to Guess?

Posted by: Margret Sanger on February 1, 2006 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Human ear growing out of a mouse's back....google it...

Once implanted in the mouse, the chondrocytes produced cartilage, dissolving the synthetic matrix in the process. The result: an apparent human ear growing out of the back of the mouse! It quickly became "the ear seen round the world."

I far as I can tell no one has ever grafted a human ear onto the back of a mouse...feathers yes, lizard skin yes, human chondrocytes yes, human ear...no not really

Posted by: cq on February 1, 2006 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Regardless of the moral issues raised, it is unquestionable that some scientist somewhere has combined the lowly, disease-carrying rat with the braying jackass and somehow taught the resultant combination how to type. How else can we explain the existence of Nutless, Factfree Fucker, Patton, and the rest of the trolls that infest this site? Genetically engineered trolls- stupid, subservient cut-and-paste monkeys with exceptionally thick finger tips.

Posted by: solar on February 1, 2006 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

axis of evil -- Iran, North Korea and the Island of Dr. Moreau...

Posted by: sister ray on February 1, 2006 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

"Rules that are "stringent and uncompromising" are of little value if they are ignored and not enforced. I suggest you look at the links I posted above, regarding PETA's investigation of mistreatment of mice at the University of North Carolina, the NIH's investigation of UNC in response to PETA's complaint, and PETA's followup investigation which revealed UNC's failure to comply with the remedies that NIH directed them to take."

You should read further about this since apparently the University was fined, and her grants terminated.

http://altweb.jhsph.edu/news/2005/ARNADecember2005.pdf.

Posted by: sheerahkahn on February 1, 2006 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

Let me add to the movie references: "O Lucky Man!"

Posted by: Mr. X on February 1, 2006 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

We can count on Fitz to not even be able to spell "Margaret" correctly. What an intellectual giant our Fitzie is.

Posted by: shortstop on February 1, 2006 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

bellumregio wrote: The opposition to GMOs, stem cells, and abortion come from the same view of timeless Nature.

The opposition to GMOs comes from very real and well-founded concern about their numerous possible -- and in some cases, demonstrated -- harmful consequences to agriculture, ecology and human health.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 1, 2006 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

Hostile, you always go too far and tip your hand.

I am trying not to only just disparage the young men and women in the armed forces, as I am wont to do. Since the drone killing of those Pakistanis, I am out to insult and accuse ee's of being among the worst type of Americans. Pale Rider still gives me a hard time.

Posted by: Hostile on February 1, 2006 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

sheerahkahn wrote: You should read further about this since apparently the University was fined, and her grants terminated.

Thanks ... I looked at the PDF you linked to, and as far as I can tell that's not what it says. It says that PETA has "is calling on the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which oversees compliance with the PHS Policy, to take stronger action against UNC for this new round of alleged deficiencies, including withdrawal of NIH funding from UNC's research programs ans suspension of UNC's federal authorization to conduct animal research."

Not only does it not say that NIH has taken such action, it quotes NIH's deputy director for extramural research as saying that NIH's Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) usually "doesn't work in a punitive fashion, opting instead to work with an institution to correct the problems."

But as the document notes, NIH already conducted its own investigation, which confirmed PETA's original finding that UNC was not in compliance with humane care guidelines, and already "issued recommendations to UNC regarding animal welfare compliance" -- recommendations which PETA's second investigation found that UNC had ignored.

Unfortunately this is typical of NIH, and this is the very reason why Congress assigned enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act to the USDA and not to NIH. While USDA has its own problems, it has been much tougher on non-complying research facilities than NIH. The most egregious example that comes to mind is the Coulston Foundation, where NIH was continuing to fund them with millions of dollars in grants (basically keeping them in business) at the same time that USDA was imposing the largest fines in history on Coulston for its hideous mistreatment and neglect of primates which were the direct cause of multiple primate deaths at the facility.

And this is why animal protectionists worked through the legal system for years to force USDA to cover mice and rats under the AWA as Congress originally directed them to do, only to be thwarted on the eve of victory by Jesse Helms.

By the way, the articles in that Humane Society of the US newsletter that you linked to about USDA's investigations of the University of California and University of Louisiana primate research facilities, and the fines imposed on the former, illustrate very well why, as I wrote, rules that are "stringent and uncompromising" are of little value if they are not enforced. Fortunately, the primates at those facilities are covered by the Animal Welfare Act, so the facilities are subject to USDA investigation and enforcement. All I am saying is that mice and rats should have the same protection. NIH has consistently demonstrated that it cannot be trusted to enforce even the minimal animal welfare standards of the Animal Welfare Act.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 1, 2006 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

The opposition to GMOs comes from dishonest propaganda and ignorance.

For example, one of the possible consequences of making transgenic plants involves the possibility that the insertion of the transgene mutates one of the plant's endogenous genes.

Of course, artificial, deliberate, massive, random mutation of a plant's genes was done 50 years ago with X-rays, and I'll give 5:1 odds that SecularAnimist eats that plant every day.

If he can explain why I should be more concerned about consequences to agriculture, ecology, and human health after mutating a single gene vs. thousands of genes in the plants I eat, I'll believe him when he claims that his concern is "well-founded."

Lurker42, petakillsanimals.com is very real. PeTA staffers are going to trial on animal cruelty charges:

http://tinyurl.com/9g6ee

Posted by: John on February 1, 2006 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe they'll figure out how to equip Dubya with some intellectual curiosity and a consicence.

Maybe that's what he's afraid of.

Posted by: duvidil on February 1, 2006 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist,
There are risks in every modification of the natural environment. Plowing fields causes soil erosion, drying, sedimentation, and contributes to deoxygenation and the death of entire ecosystems. It is the categorical rejection of GMOs, not the particular risk of one transgenic or another, that I was discussing. You say there are potential risks. That will depend on the gene, genetic background, tissue and species. Viruses and things like them have been moving bits of DNA between species since there was life. Certainly they should not be developed with disregard to potential hazards and introduced into the environment frivolously or used to hold farmers hostage to agribusiness monopolies. They will not break the crucible of nature. Habitat fragmentation is far worse.

That said, and for the record, I am fully in the camp of those that believe nature should be regarded with religious reverence and awe. I am at a loss on how to reconcile this inclination with human morality out here on the edge of the Milky Way and so, dear SecularAnimist, are you.

Posted by: bellumregio on February 1, 2006 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK
The opposition to GMOs comes from very real and well-founded concern about their numerous possible -- and in some cases, demonstrated -- harmful consequences to agriculture, ecology and human health.


Well, except that GMOs per se have no demonstrated (and exactly no more than organisms altered by selective breeding and natural processes possible, either) harmful consequences to agriculture, ecology, or human health.

(Which is not to say that any newly developed agricultural products are routinely adequately tested, or that all kinds of industrial agriculture methods which are used with GMOs as well as other crops aren't harmful to ecology and sustainability of agriculture. Oppositions to GMOs qua GMOs, though, is ludicrous, and mostly based on a romanticised contrived distinction between "natural" and "human" activity.)

Posted by: cmdicely on February 1, 2006 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

John wrote: The opposition to GMOs comes from dishonest propaganda and ignorance.

Well, well. If it isn't John Mercer again.

With his usual dishonest propaganda and ignorance.

Here's some animal research for you.

Study Shows Unborn Babies Could Be Harmed
by Geoffrey Lean
The Independent/UK
January 8, 2006

Excerpts:

Women who eat GM foods while pregnant risk endangering their unborn babies, startling new research suggests.

The study - carried out by a leading scientist at the Russian Academy of Sciences - found that more than half of the offspring of rats fed on modified soya died in the first three weeks of life, six times as many as those born to mothers with normal diets. Six times as many were also severely underweight.

The research - which is being prepared for publication - is just one of a clutch of recent studies that are reviving fears that GM food damages human health. Italian research has found that modified soya affected the liver and pancreas of mice. Australia had to abandon a decade-long attempt to develop modified peas when an official study found they caused lung damage. And last May this newspaper revealed a secret report by the biotech giant Monsanto, which showed that rats fed a diet rich in GM corn had smaller kidneys and higher blood cell counts, suggesting possible damage to their immune systems, than those that ate a similar conventional one.

The United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization held a workshop on the safety of genetically modified foods at its Rome headquarters late last year. The workshop was addressed by scientists whose research had raised concerns about health dangers.

The Russian research threatens to have an explosive effect on already hostile public opinion. Carried out by Dr Irina Ermakova at the Institute of Higher Nervous Activity and Neurophysiology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, it is believed to be the first to look at the effects of GM food on the unborn.

The scientist added flour from a GM soya bean - produced by Monsanto to be resistant to its pesticide, Roundup - to the food of female rats, starting two weeks before they conceived, continuing through pregnancy, birth and nursing. Others were given non-GM soya and a third group was given no soya at all.

She found that 36 per cent of the young of the rats fed the modified soya were severely underweight, compared to 6 per cent of the offspring of the other groups. More alarmingly, a staggering 55.6 per cent of those born to mothers on the GM diet perished within three weeks of birth, compared to 9 per cent of the offspring of those fed normal soya, and 6.8 percent of the young of those given no soya at all.

"The morphology and biochemical structures of rats are very similar to those of humans, and this makes the results very disturbing" said Dr Ermakova. "They point to a risk for mothers and their babies."

Environmentalists say that - while the results are preliminary - they are potentially so serious that they must be followed up. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine has asked the US National Institute of Health to sponsor an immediate, independent follow-up.

The complete article from the Indpendent is here (note that this is a copy posted by the Organic Consumers Association; I link to this copy because access to the Independent requires a subscription).

Additional information on the Russian study is here.

The Organic Consumers Association has a good list of links to news reports and articles about genetically engineered food here.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 1, 2006 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

Not outlawed, just no federal funding - jump in with your own money and soon you will be richer than Bill Gates. Or poorer than me.

Posted by: Walter E. Wallis on February 1, 2006 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely wrote: GMOs per se have no demonstrated [...] harmful consequences to [...] human health.

See the article I excerpted above, as well as several other related articles on the OCA site that I linked to.

While it's true that this study used rats, and not humans, and one should always be skeptical of extrapolating the results of animal research to humans, the researcher in this case believes the results are applicable to humans, and the American Academy of Environmental Medicine is sufficiently concerned to ask NIH to conduct an urgent followup study.

Here's another bit of animal research:

Genetically Modified Peas Caused Dangerous Immune Response in Mice
By Jeffrey M. Smith
Spilling the Beans, November/December 2005

Excerpt:

Genetically modified (GM) peas under development created immune responses in mice, suggesting that they may also create serious allergic reactions in people. The peas had been inserted with a gene from kidney beans, which creates a protein that acts as a pesticide. When this protein is produced naturally in beans, it does not elicit a response from mice. When produced in the GM peas, however, it did cause a reaction. Using sensitive testing methods, scientists discovered subtle differences between the bean and the GM proteins - the added sugar chains were slightly different. They speculate that this difference caused the immune reactions. Based on the results of the study, the Australian developers abandoned their 10-year, $2 million project.

This study reveals serious and potentially deadly flaws in the regulations and assessments used to approve GM foods. GM crops on the market, like corn and soybeans, were never tested for immune responses using animals and never subjected to a similar analysis of their proteins. Thus, the transgenic proteins in GM foods may have subtle undetected differences that are causing health problems. It is sobering to note that if the GM peas were tested with only the methods used on soy and corn, it likely would have been approved as well.

Given studies like these, and given the widespread and uncontrolled deployment of genetically engineered soybeans and corn that has already taken place, I think it is entirely reasonable to be concerned about (1) inadequate health safety testing of GE food crops and (2) the already documented ability of these crops to contaminate non-GE crops, to the point where traces of them have been found even in soybeans and corn that has been organically grown with every effort to exclude GE contamination.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 1, 2006 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of Down Syndrome & the "religious right", did you know there has been a DRAMATIC decrease in the number of childrern born with Down Syndrome over the last 15 years!!!!!

Do you know why?

Care to Guess?

Oh... Never Mind– By all means, you moral giants must ignore the above post – You all have important ethical issues to deal with …...
…..like the treatment of mice at the University of North Carolina.

Secular -Inhumanists all…

Posted by: "Margaret" Sanger on February 1, 2006 at 8:33 PM | PERMALINK

Or…genetically modified organisms, GMO’s – wow that’s cutting edge ethics.
Lets all stop those…

It might lead to this!!!!!!!

Study Shows Unborn Babies Could Be Harmed
by Geoffrey Lean
The Independent/UK
January 8, 2006

Well…we have a real easy way to take care of those “unborn babies” with birth defects and so on…..

Posted by: Whistling past contemporary eugenics on February 1, 2006 at 8:44 PM | PERMALINK

there has been a DRAMATIC decrease in the number of childrern born with Down Syndrome over the last 15 years!!!!!

Posted by: "Margaret" Sanger on February 1, 2006 at 8:33 PM | PERMALINK

Could have got the same result by killing them after they were born. Still doesn't make it right.
If you like that logic, there's your answer to high-school drop outs. Shoot them so they don't mess up the statistics.

Liberalism. Any evil in the pursuit of political correctness.

Posted by: McA on February 1, 2006 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

Proof positive that McA is more stupid than Fitz (a hardcore pro-lifer whose attempt at being sardonic flew completely over McA's, umm, head), who is stupid enough to misspell Margaret ...

Maybe *both* of then should be, I dunno, involuntarily sterilized for the good of the human race or something ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 1, 2006 at 10:31 PM | PERMALINK

Growth, food intake, and organ weights of the thymus, spleen, and liver were compared between animals fed the non-GM and GM lines. The histological findings in thymus, spleen, mesenteric lymph nodes, Peyer's patches, small intestines, liver, kidney, and bone marrow, and the presence of Cry9C-specific IgE, IgG, IgG1 and IgA antibodies in serum were also compared. The results showed no significant differences in growth, feeding value, or the histological findings in immunity-related organs between the animals fed the GM and non-GM lines.

Yeah yeah, and there are published papers that find no effects of GMO food on rodents too.

Posted by: cq on February 1, 2006 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks SecularAnimist.

Posted by: Hostile on February 1, 2006 at 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

It's not making mice with blue eyes who can talk, you people see way too much late night TV. It's much more likely to be studying a SINGLE gene, for a SINGLE PROTEIN, in an intact animal or cellular context to figure out how it works.

That all cells use the same fundamental mechanism to control cell division was determined by showing that a human gene encoding a protein kinase could replace the equivalent yeast gene. It isn't going to make a single celled human.

Problem is, sweeping statements from the Prez will cause us to abandon realistic and not scary expts as well as the lunatic fringe.

another point: wanna keep folks from stupid human cloning expts? Stupid stuff happens when all you have is private funding and no (fed) oversight.

Posted by: IT on February 1, 2006 at 11:38 PM | PERMALINK

I dunno, involuntarily sterilized for the good of the human race or something ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 1, 2006 at 10:31 PM | PERMALINK

Liberalism. Any evil in the pursuit of political correctness.

Posted by: McA on February 1, 2006 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: McA on February 2, 2006 at 1:35 AM | PERMALINK

I read somewhere else this morning that this would ban the production of insulin which apparently involves mixing human and yeast genes.

Posted by: Brian Boru on February 2, 2006 at 1:37 AM | PERMALINK

Why has Germany outlawed cloning & stem cell research?

Can anyone venture a guess?

Posted by: Fitz on February 2, 2006 at 3:01 AM | PERMALINK

Why has Germany outlawed cloning & stem cell research?

Can anyone venture a guess?

Posted by: Fitz on February 2, 2006 at 3:01 AM | PERMALINK

They should listen to liberals. Why wouldn't they want an endless supply of blond
god-like children so they need not have inferior product and can engage in wholesale forced sterilization of immigrant stock inherited under failed policies?

Liberalism, funny which side it ends up on one it opens minds so wide, the brains fall out.

Posted by: McA on February 2, 2006 at 4:33 AM | PERMALINK

Where does this leave me???

I have 95% chimp genes, only the latest 5% are purely human, aaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrggggh!

Posted by: mikmik on February 2, 2006 at 5:47 AM | PERMALINK

"The mice will be destroyed if they show any sign of human traits."

My guess is that all those calls to 'American Idol' voting lines would be the tip off.

As for:

But where does he stand on Cylons?
Posted by: Marcus Wellby

All I can say is "Oh, frack, beaten to the punch yet again."

Posted by: CFShep on February 2, 2006 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist,

I love you, man, but taking "suggest" and "potential" and placing them in the "proven" column does your side no good.

If food is your religion then that's cool and I won't debate faith but I'll place you in the extremist column along with the Christian extremists.

How many humans have eaten GM corn and soy products? Where all the tiny babies? Where are the extreme allergic reactions?

Posted by: Tripp on February 2, 2006 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

Doug (aka SecularAnimist),
Newspaper stories are notoriously bad sources of scientific data. Where are the data published? What is the modification of the soya ("genetically modified" has become as deceptive as "weapons of mass destruction")? Did the Russian make transgenic soy that expresses diptheria toxin?

Why can't you address my question about your indifference to massive, random genetic modification of one of the major foods you eat?

Posted by: John on February 2, 2006 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

John wrote:

Newspaper stories are notoriously bad sources of scientific data. Where are the data published?

The research was presented at a symposium in Russia in October, and is being prepared for publication.

According to the article I linked to above, from the English language edition of a Russian publication called Regnum: "On October 10, during the symposium over genetic modification, organized by the National Association for Genetic Security (NAGS), Doctor of Biology Irina Ermakova made public the results of the research led by her at the Institute of Higher Nervous Activity and Neurophysiology of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS)."

The Independent article I linked to above says the research "is being prepared for publication."

John wrote:

What is the modification of the soya [...] Did the Russian make transgenic soy that expresses diptheria toxin?

The Independent article says that the Russian researcher used "flour from a GM soya bean - produced by Monsanto to be resistant to its pesticide, Roundup." That would be Monsanto's trademark "Roundup Ready" soybeans, which are widely grown in the USA.

As the Independent article says, "The American Academy of Environmental Medicine has asked the US National Institute of Health to sponsor an immediate, independent follow-up." You may wish to contact the AAEM, or NIH, for more information.

John wrote:

Why can't you address my question about your indifference to massive, random genetic modification of one of the major foods you eat?

Why are you asking me questions about this study, that were plainly and clearly answered in the articles I linked to above? Did you not read the articles?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 2, 2006 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

John wrote:

Newspaper stories are notoriously bad sources of scientific data. Where are the data published?

The research was presented at a symposium in Russia in October, and is being prepared for publication.

According to the article I linked to above, from the English language edition of a Russian publication called Regnum: "On October 10, during the symposium over genetic modification, organized by the National Association for Genetic Security (NAGS), Doctor of Biology Irina Ermakova made public the results of the research led by her at the Institute of Higher Nervous Activity and Neurophysiology of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS)."

The Independent article I linked to above says the research "is being prepared for publication."

John wrote:

What is the modification of the soya [...] Did the Russian make transgenic soy that expresses diptheria toxin?

The Independent article says that the Russian researcher used "flour from a GM soya bean - produced by Monsanto to be resistant to its pesticide, Roundup." That would be Monsanto's trademark "Roundup Ready" soybeans, which are widely grown in the USA.

As the Independent article says, "The American Academy of Environmental Medicine has asked the US National Institute of Health to sponsor an immediate, independent follow-up." You may wish to contact the AAEM, or NIH, for more information.

John wrote:

Why can't you address my question about your indifference to massive, random genetic modification of one of the major foods you eat?

Why are you asking me questions about this study, that were plainly and clearly answered in the articles I linked to above? Did you not read the articles?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 2, 2006 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry about the double post. Got a timeout error waiting for the page to refresh and when I reloaded the page there were two copies of the comment. Don't know why.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 2, 2006 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

John wrote:

Of course, artificial, deliberate, massive, random mutation of a plant's genes was done 50 years ago with X-rays, and I'll give 5:1 odds that SecularAnimist eats that plant every day ... Why can't you address my question about your indifference to massive, random genetic modification of one of the major foods you eat?

I don't know what plant you are referring to, which you believe to be "one of the major foods I eat", and I don't know what "artificial, deliberate, massive, random mutation" of that unspecified plant's genes was "done 50 years ago with X-rays".

If you have a chance, please post more information. It's hard to address your question when you don't provide enough information for me to know what you are talking about.


Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 2, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

This is all a big misunderstanding. Laura obviously just finished reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkabhan to President Bush, and he was rightly outraged at Dumbledore's trust in Professor Lupin. Bush has never liked professors, and he certainly won't tolerate a werewolf teaching youngsters, particularly not a subject like defense against the dark arts, which is so crucial to the war on terrorism.

I understand his instincts, but if he had just waited a few more months, Laura may have gotten around to the Order of the Phoenix, wherein Professor Lupin is revealed to be a good guy.

Posted by: Dave Meyer on February 2, 2006 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

What if his handlers discovered Bush couldn't pronounce "chimera" in the SOTU run-through--could that have had anything to do with it? Some of those preppy places still teach ancient Greek (although Rove never did get a college degree).

On a more serious note, what about those official lines of stem cells that are already contaminated with animal substances from the cultures used to grow them over generations? These are precisely the only stem cell lines (degraded though they may be) to which Bush gave his imperial seal of approval for federally funded research.

Posted by: Jen Morris on February 2, 2006 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

There is disturbingly smooth and potentially slippery slope from things no reasonable person would object to (such as a microorganism with a human gene for producing insulin or a human with a pig's heart) to things that no moral person would ever support (such as a man/ape hybrid with conciousness but no place in our society).

Along the way are many things that are morally unclear. For example, imagine farming human bodies with no brains for organs... the idea sickens me but I can't for the life of me explain why it is immoral. After all, growing organs in isolation does not bother me.

Clearly these concepts are moving from the realm of science fiction to science fact. Someone is going to have to decide where to draw the line. The only question is whether it will be university bioethics panels or Congress and the courts.

This is a democracy, not a technocracy, and that means that as irritating as it may be to the people who would decide in a technocracy, these are questions that have to be decided by our elected representatives, including the ones who are elected by people as dumb as a fence post guided by beliefs that you personally think are idiotic.

Posted by: Michael Friedman on February 2, 2006 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

Michael Friedmand: such as a man/ape hybrid with conciousness but no place in our society

I don't know why you think a man/ape hybrid would have no place in our society. After all, one of them is President.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 3, 2006 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

SA wrote:
"I don't know what plant you are referring to, which you believe to be "one of the major foods I eat", and I don't know what "artificial, deliberate, massive, random mutation" of that unspecified plant's genes was "done 50 years ago with X-rays"."

That's my point, Doug. You are profoundly and aggressively ignorant about the genetic modifications done to the crops you freely choose to eat. All you care about are transgenic crops. The vocabulary you use is designed to obfuscate, not clarify.

"If you have a chance, please post more information. It's hard to address your question when you don't provide enough information for me to know what you are talking about."

My question doesn't require whether you know what the crop is. It is designed to expose your rank hypocrisy when it comes to genetic manipulations.

The crop is wheat. Google the name "Sears" with other appropriate terms. Sears is a famous plant geneticist.

Posted by: John on February 3, 2006 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

As usual John Mercer, you have nothing of substance to say. You are playing the same game you have been playing online for at least ten years, which is to prove to yourself over and over and over again that you are superior to other people.

And apparently, you still haven't proved it to your satisfaction, thus you must keep at it. For ten years. It's rather pathetic.

And I'm guessing that you still have not even read the articles I linked to.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 3, 2006 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

yeah, IIRC since 50+ years ago, just about every crop we eat is the result of bombarding seeds with high doses of X-rays and picking out any that grow up to display benificial mutations. personally I'd take a GM plant in the modern sense over any conventional plant bred specifically for the same trait. you're much less likely to end up with something harmful.

I don't really care. it's just mice. you know you're well off when you have time to bitch online over the wellfare of an animal whose life typically ends in a breif furry crunch. as long as they try to be humane about it I don't give a crap what genes they put in the little blighters.

and yes, that mouse with the human ear didn't have a human ear at all on it; it was an artificial tissue scaffold that the mouse's own skin and cartilage grew over producing something that looked like a human ear. modern genetic engineering is nowhere that advanced. and are that many people that dull to think that it is even possible to genetically engineer something to grow a third ear on it's back? it's probably millions of times easier to engineer it to have two human-esque ears on it's head, but even that is well beyond our capability.

Posted by: Qbley on February 3, 2006 at 11:39 PM | PERMALINK

Remember Thalidomide babies?

Doesn't new Supreme Ct. Judge Alito remind you of a giant, creepy, weird human-bird hybrid, the way he swivels his head back & forth while his shifty eyes fix on his prey?

The Tobacco, Oil, Auto & Nuke Cartels have a secret research lab, dedicated to creating a human-animal hybrid able to breathe pure carbon monoxide from tobacco smoke & combustion engines & thrive on radioactive nuke waste in the charred wastelands of N. America. Creating the perfect consumer for the 21st century & beyond!

They might as well be Cylons, the result will be the same for us!


Posted by: Paranoid Pollyanna on February 4, 2006 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

"As usual John Mercer, you have nothing of substance to say. You are playing the same game you have been playing online for at least ten years, which is to prove to yourself over and over and over again that you are superior to other people."

Total ad hominem--par for the course.

Doug Percival, the substance of what I have to say is that you approach genetic modification of crops from a position of aggressive ignorance. You've been eating genetically-modified crops for your entire life, and you are irrationally selective about the ones you choose to oppose--the same way you approach research.

Your goal is the demonization of people, and the crops and animals are mere tools to you. You can overlook eating genetically-modified wheat, just as you can overlook PeTA's lies in concealing the vivisection of animals for nothing more than political convenience.

So, I'll have to conclude that your desperate resort to pure ad hominem attack is an admission that you can't explain why I should be far more concerned about consequences to agriculture, ecology, and human health after mutating a single gene vs. mutating thousands of genes in the plants I eat.

How can you claim that your opposition to transgenic plants is "well-founded" when you can't explain this vast disparity?

Posted by: John on February 4, 2006 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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