Thursday, April 24, 2008

Nontarget Effects of Genetic Manipulation

Having gotten the energy and economic casserole bubbling along nicely this morning, I'd best turn my attention to grating some of that funky genetic engineering cheese to sprinkle on top. You know, the totally random technological variable on which our future prospects quite possibly depend? (that, and our possible psychological evolution.....,)
Putting the matter plainly: when foreign genes are introduced into an organism, creating a transgenic organism (commonly called a genetically modified or genetically engineered organism), the results for the organism and its environment are almost always unpredictable. The intended result may or may not be achieved in any given case, but the one almost sure thing is that unintended results - nontarget effects - will also be achieved.

These facts have been, and are being, widely reported in the scientific literature. While they are correcting our understanding in important ways, they are not at all controversial. And they bear directly upon the wisdom of virtually all the current genetic engineering practices. If there has been limited reportage of nontarget effects in the popular press, it may be because the facts are often buried in technical scientific articles. And within genetic engineering research itself, scientists are mainly concerned with achieving targeted effects and not with investigating beyond the range of their own intentions and reporting unexpected effects. But when they do investigate, there is usually plenty to see.
While I remain bullish as ever about the imperative necessity of the deepest possible interrogation of the biotic realit - this reference site is furnished persuant to the subrealist ethos of providing fair and balanced coverage of the fringes of consensus reality.