BioTalk

A Pro-Life Podcast


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BioTalk18: Self-Regulation Science Doesn’t Work

Scientists love to give themselves “ethical guidelines” — only to “reevaluate” and revise those guidelines when they are no longer convenient.

A perfect recent example of this came this May when scientists in two separate studies reported keeping embryos alive, healthy and developing for 12-13 days. In both studies the embryos grew autonomously and began processes that lead to organ development.

This was significant because for decades international policy has limited embryo research to the first two weeks of development. Until now there had never been reports of anyone cultivating in vitro human embryos past seven to nine days.

Now scientists are calling for an extension of the 14-day rule.

When the International Society for Stem Cell Research updated its stem cell research guidelines to include human embryo gene editing, the journal Nature reported:

The authors hope that the updated guidelines will allay various ethical concerns, and avoid the need for strict government regulations that could impede the progress of science.

“Self-regulation is the best form of regulation,” says Charles Murry, a member of the committee that updated the guidelines, and a bioengineer at the University of Washington in Seattle. “The biomedical community is best poised to strike the balance between rapid progress and safe, ethical research practice.”

The sad thing is, even when governments do decide to form policy regulating research, it’s often only the scientists they want to hear from.

In the latest episode of BioTalk, Dr. David Prentice and I discuss the need for more than just scientists to be involved in public policy discussions regarding human-embryo experimentation.

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(If either embed does not work click for direct links to: video, audio)

The conversation has become too quiet

Yes, when forming policy, it is important to hear from “the experts”, but you also need to hear from everyone else who might be a stakeholder. And when we start talking about human genetics and the future of the human race we’re all stakeholders — and we should not neglect or be afraid to speak up.

Cloning and embryo experimentation may not be major news these days, but that doesn’t mean it’s not being done.

Unfortunately, the conversation has become too quiet lately, especially among pro-lifers.

10 years ago the “great stem cell debate” was raging, now all pro-life news and information I see is almost exclusively about abortion and euthanasia. Rarely do I see anything about cloning come across my feeds, and when I do it’s often accompanied by outdated arguments about embryonic vs. adult stem cells, etc…

I want to again remind you of something Zachery Gappa said last year in an article encouraging pro-lifers to take some time to learn more about bioethics:

Pro-lifers will lose the next stage of this argument unless they become more informed. The graphic abortions we have known over the past few decades will soon be largely a thing of the past, but we may be killing more unborn children than ever before.

As Dr. Prentice pointed out, “We always talk about the horrific loss of life in abortion in the U.S. since 1973, and we’re up to somewhere around 55 million young lives lost. I think we’re probably in that same neighborhood with human embryo research and the destruction of those human lives.”

And this research is roughly 10 years younger than legalized abortion.

The Brave New World may soon be upon us, whether we like it or not, but let’s not watch it advance without putting up a fight!

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BioTalk17: Human GMOs and U.S. Public Policy

Last year the restaurant chain Chipotle made major headlines for announcing that all(ish) of its food would be “GMO free”. They actually received a heavy amount of criticism for this move, nevertheless, it’s safe to say they wouldn’t have done it if there weren’t a growing number of the general public wary of the “health risks” of so-called “Frankenfoods.”

NoGMO-people-small.pngFor a society that cares so much about genetically-modified organisms in their food supply, you would think we’d be a little more cautious about the genetic modification of people.

After nearly a year of evaluation, last month the National Institutes of Medicine recommended that the FDA approve three-parent embryo techniques for use in IVF in the United States.

In this episode of BioTalk, Chelsea spoke with Dr. David Prentice about what, if anything, is being done to stem the tide of human genetic engineering in the United States. And if there’s any hope for tighter, more permanent restrictions in the future.


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BioTalk16: Genetic Enhancements, A Biological Arms Race No One Can Win

Last year the UK became the first in the world to offer controversial ‘three-parent’ fertility treatments. This year they approved the use of CRISPR to edit genomes of human embryos.

In the latest episode of BioTalk, Rebecca and Chelsea talk about how scientists and governments have re-engineered language to sell the public on embryo-re-engineering.

We also look at the long-term implications of genetic enhancement. Specifically, how enhancement leads to coercion and the loss of human dignity.

Audio only:

If the embedding does not work for either of those, click here for: YouTubeSoundcloud.


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BioTalk11: Three-Parent IVF — Make Your Voice Heard!

In the latest episode of BioTalk, Rebecca Taylor and Chelsea Zimmerman give an update on “three-parent IVF” (aka “midochondrial donation or replacement”) and genetic engineering, what it means for our human future and what you can do about it.

Or, if you prefer, you can listen to audio only:

There is a very real possibility that the United States may follow the UK’s lead here. The FDA is once again revisiting their policy on three-parent IVF here in the States, and have asked the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to conduct a consensus committee to evaluate the technology.

As part of their evaluation, the IOM Consensus Committee is holding open meetings for public comment on March 31, April 1 and May 19. If you are in the DC area, please consider attending and making your voice heard!

If you are unable to attend, you can submit feedback to the committee here by clicking on “Provide FEEDBACK on this project” or you can email MitoEthics@nas.edu. That’s what we plan on doing; I hope you will join us (Rebecca has posted a sample letter that you can use).

Let’s not sit idly by while the Brave New World advances. This technology is still new enough that we can influence public opinion — if we act now. If not, then it could take generations more to reverse what has been done.

Please let them know how you feel about the genetic modification of future generations.


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BioBytes

• Researchers have discovered that instead of simply being an extra copy of each of the genes on chromosome 21, trisomy 21 has an effect on the expression of genes on other chromosomes. Rebecca Taylor observes how this new discovery has implications for the future of human genetic engineering.

• Judie Brown explains why personhood described as being “from the moment of conception” no longer applies to every human being thanks to modern reproductive technology.

• A new app-controlled device for people with hearing loss also improves normal hearing and conjures “images of a bionic future”.


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BioTalk, Episode 8: Genetic Modification — Bad for Cows and Corn, but Okay for Humans?

So, milk from a cloned cow is unnatural and unsafe, but injecting a human being with stem cells from their own (dead) clone is positive scientific progress?

What’s with society’s split personality when it comes to genetically modified organisms (GMOs)? Why are we going to great lengths to regulate and raise awareness about the use of GMO in our food supply, while largely ignoring the genetic modification of human beings?

Rebecca Taylor and Chelsea Zimmerman discuss in the latest episode of BioTalk!

See also:
Genetic Modification: Bad for Cows and Corn, but Okay for Humans?
Genetically Modified Food: Bad; Genetically Modified Humans: Good


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BioTalk, Episode 2: Three Parent Embryos and the Brave New United States

A new episode of BioTalk is finally here!

In this episode, Rebecca Taylor and I talk about scientists experimenting with “three parent embryos” and the “Brave New” United States where there are no restrictions on this or other once unthinkable kinds of human experimentation currently in practice. We also discuss the impact this kind of experimentation has on women. Ladies, pay attention. Human biotechnology is a women’s issue if ever there was one.