Thursday, December 07, 2006

embryo cloning ban lifted

Maybe I have read way too much science fiction, or maybe I am just a pessimist, but I think that allowing cloning, even for therapeutic reasons, is fraught with all sorts of dangers.

Science as the new religion still has a lot to learn about possibilities. Not everything that can be done should be done.

Here's my analogy: our IR laws, so-called "Work Choices". They were put in place as a set of tools for business to use in times of need. PM John Howard naively thought (or at least said) that employers would see the laws as a set of tools to use when times got tough without having to enter into protracted negotiations and compromise with employees and employee groups. As we all know, the tools that were provided were immediately taken up, and employers have used them BECAUSE THEY ARE THERE. Business primarily focuses on money, and it is the Government's job to reign them in and temper their behaviour with caveats that ensure that the people without the bargaining power are protected.

Similarly, Science focuses on possibilities, and bringing them to reality.

I am not religious nor am I ruled by the set of outdated morals our current Parliamentary leaders impose on the people of Australia, but I am cautiously pessimistic about how far people will go if they are unencumbered by a guiding legislative structure.

Like Religion, Science is not exact and relies on faith and discussion and revision to remain current. Nothing that Einstein and Newton put forward stands as current theory today, and even genius of our own time Stephen Hawking has had to revise a number of his thoughts and theories.

Unlike Physics however, Biology is a particularly touchy subject, as we don't know what we are doing until we do it. We understand only a fraction of our own genetic makeup after decades of study and analysis, yet the scientific community proposes manipulation of our embryonic state to create hyperactive neutral genetic material to plug into our bodies in the hope that we will be cured. You don't have to be too imaginative to imagine a world of unfettered genetic/eugenic experimentation.

The Island of Doctor Moreau and the film Gattaca, where your genes are chosen like ingredients in a sandwich, cry out about the possibilities, and come back to one simple solution. Nature is far more amazing than science.

The government senator who drafted the bill, former Health Minister Kay Patterson, said the law would come into effect in six months after health and science authorities draft guidelines for egg donation and research licences.

I am proud that our House of Representatives was able to pass such legislation which divided party lines, was opposed by both the PM and opposition leader and flies in the face of religious conservatism, but I do hope the way forward is step by step, and not headlong into the unknown.
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