Holy Hormones Journal: Holy Hormones Honey! This article was named one of the top stories of 2013 in BioEdge – Bioethic News from Around the World. Not sure how I missed it. Or if I did post it – it is worth reposting.
So now the commentary. Is this what the synthetic hormone/steroid movement is about? Is this what the Gardasil HPV vaccine is all about? Is this what the endocrine disruptors is all about? Sterilizing women? Rendering them infertile so that technology can control the number of births to sustain a population – and the quality of the infants being born? Is this what David Healy in his new book Pharmageddon when he discusses the most common drug given to women during pregnancy are anti-depressants – now known to have a high rate of birth defects, doubles the rate of miscarriages, and causes mental handicaps in children born to mothers who have been taking them?
Is this the latest war on women? What value will we have (not that we have much now) when we are now longer revered and valued for the miracle of birth?
“In vitro eugenics” is coming, predicts Australian bioethicist
by Michael Cook | 6 Apr 2013
Taking a peek into the future, an Australian bioethicist says that it will be possible to use stem cell technology to breed better humans in a Petri dish. Robert Sparrow, of Monash University, writes in the Journal of Medical Ethics that it is not too early to launch a debate about what he calls ‘in vitro eugenics’.
His starting point is research into the creation of sperm and eggs from stem cells. Mice have already been produced with “artificial” gametes and the production of humans may not be too far away. Up to now, reports of this research have highlighted its potential for creating gametes for infertile men and women or for allowing homosexual males to produce eggs or homosexual women to produce sperm.
The production of embryos using sperm and eggs generated with stem cells rather than through sex would also be useful in studying genetic diseases and for drug testing. But Dr Sparrow points out that it would be splendid for eugenics. Generations of people could be created in Petri dishes, eliminating unsatisfactory genes in the quest for better human beings. “In effect,” he writes enthusiastically, “scientists will be able to breed human beings with the same (or greater) degree of sophistication with which we currently breed plants and animals.”
He calculates that two to three generations of human beings could be produced in a single year – rather than the 60 or so years that the pace of natural reproduction requires.
“An in vitro breeding programme of this sort would give future eugenicists a power undreamed of by governments and would-be genetic reformers of the past. In a 10-year research programme, scientists might produce 20–30 generations of human beings in vitro — enough to achieve significant changes in genotype. Advances in cell culture technology and in the science of gametogenesis might increase this figure still further. Obviously, the more generations it is possible to proceed through each year, the more powerful this technology will become.”