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Al Gore: Biotechnology on par with Climate Change

This blog post is from the Center for Genetics and Society:

Al Gore – former vice president, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, best-selling author, high-tech and green-tech entrepreneur, and Paul Revere of climate change – has recently released The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change. The book’s ambitious goal – and one that should be high priority for us all – is figuring out how to safeguard a truly human future when, as Gore puts it, “[d]emocracy and capitalism have both been hacked.”

One of the six drivers Gore identifies is “The Reinvention of Life and Death,” which he suggests is parallel to climate change in its importance for the human future. In a chapter of that title, he covers human biotech and related issues at length. The discussion is wide-ranging, with anecdotes and comments about topics including personalized medicine, inheritable genetic modification, gene patenting, epigenetics, synthetic biology, bioweapons, human cloning, stem cell research, eugenics past and present, the Singularity, human enhancement, athletic gene doping, fetal gene tests, and genetic discrimination.

On one hand, this is incredibly exciting. Gore is a thoroughly mainstream voice; that he has identified the biotechnology issue as in the same league with climate change means that the debate is rapidly shifting. The days appear to be ending when concerns about biotech can be laughed off as speculation. It is about time.

But I was dismayed to see the following blog post by Will Frehley claiming that Gore predicts “seizing control over our own evolution” that will begin in China and gradually spread to the United States. In my opinion, the quote in that post by Richard Hayes about the “techno-eugenic rat race” likely to result from human genetic modification is pretty accurate–with the caveat that “techno-eugenic nightmare” might fit better. That is why I called a few weeks ago for the drastic measure of a worldwide halt on research involving human DNA. We must not concede the autocannibalism of humanity as inevitable.

Of course, maybe Frehley stated Gore’s views inaccurately. That is partly why I am buying Gore’s book immediately to find out.

Last time I posted this petition. Some people agreed but nobody signed. Perhaps Gore raising biotechnology’s profile will spur on a few signatures. Again I appeal to Firedoglake readers. Biotechnology research that endangers the future should be stopped. Please sign if you agree! The petition text is thus:

President Obama
Please advocate a global treaty banning all research involving human DNA effective immediately. DNA sequencing research is poised to lead to the first true “designer babies” in the next decade, with traits like enhanced intelligence, health, or personality. An ever-widening gap between people with and without modifications would result. Those who refused would eventually be considered inferior or worse, leading to a caste-based society. The United States has a special responsibility to take action given its leading role in biotechnology. Please go to the United Nations and make a case. Our best chance to keep Pandora’s Box firmly shut is now.

[Your name]

It is a simple petition. No doubt the language could use work. But we must start somewhere!

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