Invasive amniocentesis and chorionic villi sampling (CVS) tests are commonly used to determine the chromosomal, structural and genetic abnormalities in fetuses. But could they eventually become obsolete? A Chinese study
has found that a complete copy of the fetal genome exists in the mother's blood, suggesting many prenatal diagnoses could potentially be performed noninvasively. [more inside]
We may soon be able to clone Neanderthals. But should we
? An essay from Archaeology Magazine examines the ethical, scientific and legal ramifications. (Via Heather Pringle's Time Machine blog, where essay author Zach Zorich posted a reply and elicited a response.) [more inside]
Why Genetic Engineering Is So Dangerous
Environmentalist/biologist Barry Commoner's essay in the February issue of Harper's magazine warns about the unknown dangers of genetic engineering.
"...billions of transgenic plants are now being grown with only the most rudimentary knowledge about the resulting changes in their composition. Without detailed, ongoing analyses of the transgenic crops, there is no way of knowing what hazardous consequences may arise. But,
given the failure of the Central Dogma, there is no assurance that they will not. The genetically engineered crops now being grown represent a huge uncontrolled experiment; its outcome is inherently unpredictable.
Our project is designed to help develop effective public understanding of the dangerous implications of this critical predicament."
He asserts that the "Central Dogma", the basis for the Human Genome Project, was known to be flawed prior to the inception of the $3 billion program. Should we be amused/impressed or very worried when we read about pig/spinach crosses and the like?
Related article here