Week 6 / Biotech / Erum Farooque

Biotechnology is a controversial topic and combining it with art makes it even more controversial. Biotechnology is clearly a scientific field but creating new things and ideas is an art. Bringing them to life is where, I believe, the controversy starts. From the required reading, Leonardo Da Vinci is attributed to saying this quote:

‘‘I have from an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men’’.
Altering animals in biotechnology may lead to their death and modify their lifestyle making it harder to live. These controversies with biotechnology see biotech to animals as animal cruelty, while another issue with it is of religion. Creating new life is like playing at God and his role. Religiously, biotechnology can be seen as wrong and also unappreciative with what God has already given us. Personally, I believe that biotech is wrong when creating new life or altering life for materialistic and superficial reasons, because of the religious reasoning behind that but I am still intrigued by it greatly. However, advancing medicine to save lives through biotechnology is good, you just have to stay ethical about it.    

The most interesting project/idea to me discussed in class was Alba, the GFB bunny. I found her so pretty and so cool. Adding “glow in the dark” genes to the white bunny is biotech and an inventive idea but calling it art and claiming the form of life as your own property is harder to agree with. While what the creator of the GFB bunny did was artistic and creative, it was dealing with biotechnology and a life, and I believe no one can claim a life. Another interesting biotech project involving altering the genes of an animal through injecting those of another animal into it that I found involves a monkey and a jellyfish. 

http://health.usnews.com/usnews/health/articles/010122/archive_006752.htm

They added a gene from a jellyfish into a monkey to see if primates could be successfully genetically altered, as a preface to testing on humans, if successful. Since the gene transfer was successful, they believe that any gene could be inserted without problems. The article says they will be used to research further into curing human diseases by inserting genes into embryos of humans. This raises ethical concerns over how the monkey’s life will be affected and if it will be able to be happy and normal, but the experiment was for the betterment of humanity. Creating new life out of old life is scientifically artistic. Artists aim for perfection, and that is what this does: perfect the species.  

Lastly, I would like to talk about my favorite show, Heroes, which was shown  in class. The show deals with people born with extraordinary abilities, which makes them very different from everyone else and they feel alienated until they find one another. This parallels the feeling of belonging that genetic engineering could alter, thus alienating the genetically altered one from the rest of his species. One of the main characters, Nathan Petrelli, refuses to acknowledge his power at all at first, wanted to be like everyone else and denies that he is has a special ability of flying. Later, he finds out that although his whole family was born with their abilities, he was missing any ability when he was born, so he was injected with a formula that gave him one. He feels betrayed and turns against his “own kind” of those with special abilities, joining with regular people in their destruction of all those of that different breed of special humans. This is a perfect example of what problems can arise from genetic engineering of people and animals and how it can affect their daily lives. Emotionally and physically, the genetically altered person, animal or plant is different from his own kind and ethical and moral concerns arise from this problem.

Here is a picture of Nathan Petrelli from the show flying for the first time. The emotion on his face conveys his disdain of his new-found special power. (The browser didnt let me upload the picture in to the blog. ) I also wanted to paste the video fo when Nathan finds out his powers were injected, but I could not find it. :(

http://heroeswiki.com/Image:Firstflyght.JPG

By Erum Farooque

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