Saturday, October 25, 2014

Lewontin Glow-in-the-dark Rabbits

Glow- in– the– dark Rabbits Lewontin didn’t see this one coming. Scientist have been able to insert a genes from sea jelly and insert them into the embryos of rabbits before they are born this causes them to glow under black light. Lewontin finds that science is corrupt because of social influences. He finds that funding goes to projects that are too complex and don’t focus on solving the problem in a sufficient simple way. Lewontin discusses the Human Genome project as an example.
            Lewontin uses the Human Genome project to talk about the inefficiencies in the science world. He explains that project like Human Genome are not effective because they advertise on false hope, they are to complex, and they are too expensive. To Lewontin the simpler medicines have always worked better for example we give diabetics insulin instead of changing their DNA. Lewontin thinks projects like these only serve at satisfying human curiosity or a social agenda; they don’t actually solve the problems they were set out to solve. Lewontin wants scientist to stop inspiring hope in too complex projects or the public to become better educated so we can stop funding and believing in these expensive experiments, and get refocused on a simple solution.
            The Glow-in –the-dark effect has been recreated in many different types of mammals, but that is not the ultimate goal of the project. The article says, “the ultimate goal of the Turkish and Hawaiian collaboration is to refine techniques that could one day lead to animals capable of producing medicines in their milk” (Rojahn paragraph 4). Lewontin has a big issue with scientist inspiring hope and marketing their research with unachievable, best-case scenario promises. They make people believe in their science to get support and funding. This goes back to the intelligent gap between scientists and the public with a more general science education. There are Scientific problems I don’t think they addressed in the article. One example would be that only two of eight rabbits got the gene that isn’t very effective and I’m pretty sure there is no way to get a higher rate of success. They also didn’t address if epigenetics/ environmental factors would keep the gene from being expressed all the time. Lewontin would have an issue with this because he doesn’t like the way we think genes shape everything. It has also been a few years since the first bunnies were created and all that has happened so far is that scientist have been able to repeat the process in other animals. They haven’t constructed a gene to change an animal’s milk into medicine yet, they haven’t tested this medicine, and they have not set up a plan for distribution.

            I will give these scientist acknowledgement for their creativity. The point of these animals would be to prevent the necessity of constructing billion dollar factories to manufacture these drugs. Lewontin preaches against gene projects like this because they are ineffective, but also because the money could be spent on a better simpler solution.  So may be there is no Lewontin way to ease symptoms of diseases like AIDS because of the expenses of a factory, and the impossible promises of medicated milk, but Lewontin would say that you could use that money to help prevent the spread of AIDS and be much more effective. Being Lewontin might not fix every problem in the world, but it creates more effective solutions to problems we can have a big impact on if we are willing to go a simpler route.

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