Last night whilst flicking channels to get to my new-favourite Australian drama, Love My Way, I flicked past Channel4’s Animal Farm. I noticed Giles Coren, and although I can’t profess to be a fan of his, anything to do with farming always piques my interest. I started watching and to my horror they were discussing using cows blood as a treatment against bioterrorism – all the time they were talking, rows of cows were hooked up to machines, taking their blood. This reminded me of the most awful scenes I’ve seen in sci-fi films. I was aghast. So I stopped flicking channels and I watched as they went onto sheep who had their unborn foetuses removed, stem cells injected, and then be put back so that they would continue to grow into sheep that were 15% human. I called my husband in complete stunned amazement. Since when did we become so blazé about not only doing this sort of stuff – but showing it on prime-time TV?
My first emotion was horror, my second anger, and my third just plain sorrow. I don’t think the programme itself was that informative, and didn’t give a very unbiased view of vivisection itself (it was more “isn’t-this-just-amazingly-wonderful-if-a-bit-freaky?”) – even when Giles Coren said that he wouldn’t be happy for an animal that had a percentage of human DNA inside it, be killed just so he could receive its organs. And that was why they were doing it – so one day we could each have an organ “made” from our own DNA in a sheep’s body, thus negating the need for organ donors. Putting the farm in pharmacy.
The programme went on to say that ‘yay! this is fantastic!’ but there are risks. Apparently when messing with chromasomes at a base-level, and as the scientist put it “copying and pasting” bits hither and thither, something called cellular fusion can happen, meaning that the lamb who is 15% human, could be born with a lamb’s body and a human head, or some mix thereof.
I don’t believe in animal testing, and I’ll go so far as to say that it is one of the worst possible exploits that we as human beings currently undertake. Because the animals that are vivisected have no say at all. There are hundreds of studies saying that animal testing doesn’t work, because animals are just too different to us. And some may even justify their pro-genetic-modification stance saying that a lamb who has been genetically modified to produce a donor kidney is no worse than a lamb who has been killed for food. Which is the age-old question of what is the worth of a human life? But it also raises the question as to whether ethics has any standing anymore – in today’s times, what are ethics? And who controls these studies, who says “That’s not ethical – stop”.
Can the girl they showed in the footage, a teenager with spina bifida who was born without an adequate bladder, and who had one “made” from her own stem-cells, can we deny anyone that? Although her bladder didn’t, as far as I know, have anything to do with an animal – is it ok to “mess with nature” if we benefitted?
I was almost turning the whole thing off when they started talking about giving humans the ability to re-grow limbs after they have been severed. This is my snapping point, when they talked about humans being able to reverse cellular ageing and almost live forever. Then I knew that this had gone too far, way too far. Those who were funding the research into limbs re-growing? The US Military.
I’ll leave you with a little quote from Mr. Coren himself:
With your food critic hat on, do you prefer organic food?
[…]So I was, and remain essentially, organic in terms of animals. But soya is different, for example; although I confess it doesn’t play a huge role in my diet. But in the US, where we filmed, 80% of all soya is GM, and look at the Americans, there’s nothing wrong with them. [laughs][…]
Yes, Mr. Coren, indeed.
I was going to call this post “Whacky Science”, but that title seems to make it sound fun, hilarious. And I fear it is very very much the opposite. If this is so-called progress, then I’d rather not be a part of it.