Genetic Research is Too Dangerous and Should be Stopped

Dr Vernon Coleman





The following essay is taken from `Paper Doctors’ by Vernon Coleman – which was published in 1977 and is now available again as a paperback. In this short extract, Vernon Coleman explains why he considers genetic research to be incredibly dangerous.

`There are as many dangers as there are possibilities in genetic research. Researchers studying genes have for some time been using bacteria for their basic studies because the genetic systems of bacteria are relatively simple. There is also the added advantage that bacteria reproduce in minutes rather than in weeks or months so that long-term studies can more easily be carried out. The bacterium most commonly used is one called Escherichia Coli, a bug found in the human gut. The researchers change the genetic information carried by each bacterium by cross breeding, by chemical treatments and even by genetic surgery, using enzymes as tools with which to chop up chromosomes. According to a World Health Organisation statement on the subject: `The innovative techniques of DNA recombination consist in isolating and then splicing together DNA molecules from unrelated organisms to produce a new hybrid organism which may contain the genetic properties of either or both or the original organisms. Researchers are also already experimenting with the fusion of cells and the growth in culture of cells containing nuclei from completely different sources.’

With these experiments research biologists hope to gain an understanding of the way in which genes are controlled and the way they work to produce healthy or diseased tissues and organs. Researchers hope to be able eventually to develop ways of manufacturing vital substances. For example, if the segments of DNA which are responsible for the production of insulin can be introduced into the E.coli organism, the bacteria culture would act as a factory producing insulin.

Research workers have already learnt how to transfer antibiotic resistance from one bacterium to another. They use this technique to help them mark particular genes as effectively as if they had initialled them. Unfortunately, the manufacture of resistant organisms is potentially very dangerous for it would theoretically be possible for resistant organisms to get out of the laboratory and into the community. These organisms could then cause infections in innocent people and doctors would be unable to treat the infections because the organisms responsible were resistant to available drugs.

There are other dangers involved. It is, for example, particularly dangerous to experiment with a bacterium such as E.coli, a common inhabitant of the human gastro-intestinal tract, because if by accident a lethal version of E.coli got out of the laboratory, it would be able to kill off millions of people quite easily. Genetic information such as that carried in viruses which cause tumours might be introduced into E.coli, and when the newly knowledgeable E.coli found itself inside a human being it would be able to start a tumour.

Even the researchers themselves admit that almost anything is possible in the field of genetics and that we just do not know enough to tell whether a particular piece of research is potentially dangerous or not.’

Taken from the book `Paper Doctors’ by Vernon Coleman, which was first published in 1977 and which has been republished and can now be purchased from the shop on www.vernoncoleman.com

Copyright Vernon Coleman March 2024





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