Substitute Lesson Plans for - Jessica Sullivan


Dec 11, 2012 (6 years and 1 month ago)


Emergency Substitute Lesson Plans for



Escuela Campo Alegre
, The American International School of Caracas, Venezuela


lesson plans are only intended to be used in case of an
extreme emergency
Even if I don’t know
ahead of time that I will be absent,
I expect my students to use the class

to do what they can to keep
up with the
curricular plan.

In all other cases, my lesson plans should be on my desk in my classroom.

My class wiki can be found by following

> Family
> Class Webs
> Ms. Sullivan

I have posted this document under the Emergency Lesson Plan link on the left side navigation bar of my

First day EMERGENCY lesson plans:

Students are to rea
d the Global Warming opposing view points articles.

As students read the first part of the article, they are to answer the three questions on the front
page in complete sentences on a piece of binder paper.

Students may have questions with the vocabulary i
n the article.

They will be writing a statement supporting one side of the argument, so have them take notes, but
make sure they
do not
write on the actual article.

After they finish reading have then write one page supporting one side of the argument. Th
ey can
either support “Global Warming Does Not Pose a Serious Threat” or “Global Warming Threatens the
World Economy”.

In addition to supporting one side of the argument, they need to respond to criticism from the
opposing view point.

They can complete t
heir work on their laptops.

Second Day EMERGENCY lesson plans:

Students are to read the Endangered Species opposing view points articles.

As students read the first part of the article, they are to answer the three questions on the front
page in complet
e sentences on a piece of binder paper.

Students may have questions with the vocabulary in the article.

They will be writing a statement supporting one side of the argument, so have them take notes, but
make sure they
do not
write on the actual article.

ter they finish reading have then write one page supporting one side of the argument. They can
either support “The Endangered Species Act is a Failure” or “The Endangered Species Act is

In addition to supporting one side of the argument, the
y need to respond to criticism from the
opposing view point.

They can complete their work on their laptops.

Third day EMERGENCY lesson plans:

Students are to read the Genetic Engineering opposing view points articles.

As students read the first part of t
he article, they are to answer the three questions on the front
page in complete sentences on a piece of binder paper.

Students may have questions with the vocabulary in the article.

They will be writing a statement supporting one side of the argument, so
have them take notes, but
make sure they
do not
write on the actual article.

After they finish reading have then write one page supporting one side of the argument. They can
either support “Genetic Engineering May Harm Society” or “Genetic Engineering Has

Many Benefits
for Society”.

In addition to supporting one side of the argument, they need to respond to criticism from the
opposing view point.

They can complete their work on their laptops.

Fourth day EMERGENCY lesson plans:

Students are to read the

Embryonic Stem Cell Research opposing view points articles.

Students may have questions with the vocabulary in the article.

They will be writing a statement supporting one side of the argument, so have them take notes, but
make sure they
do not
write on t
he actual article.

After they finish reading have then write one page supporting one side of the argument. They can
either support “Embryonic Stem Cell Research is Ethical” or “Embryonic Stem Cell Research is

In addition to supporting one si
de of the argument, they need to respond to criticism from the
opposing view point.

They can complete their work on their laptops.

Global Warming Does Not Pose a Serious Threat

S. Fred Singer

Source Database:

Opposing Viewpoints: Glob
al Warming

In the following viewpoint, S. Fred Singer argues that contrary to dire scenarios of floods and famine, global warming
remains scientifically unproven and does not pose a threat to the environment and human welfare. Singer maintains
that politi
cians, the media, environmentalists, and bad science have joined forces to foist a global warming scare on
the American public. According to Singer, these factions promote a fear of global warming in order to secure research
grant money and justify the exp
ansion of government control over personal behavior. Singer is professor emeritus of
environmental sciences at the University of Virginia and president of the Science and
Environmental Policy

Project in
Fairfax, Virginia.

As you read, consider the followi
ng questions:

1. In what manner do the media fail to fairly present the global warming debate, according to Singer?

2. Why is there a lack of scientific consensus on the causes of global warming, according to Singer?

3. In Singer's opinion, how do gov
ernment funding agencies influence the global warming debate?

To the average American, the greatest threat facing the United States in the twenty
first century is probably something
on the order of a new Cold War with China as the chief opponent, nuclear

missiles launched by rogue nations, Islamic
fundamentalism, terrorists releasing appalling new biological weapons, or cyber
warfare against the nation's banks,
traffic control systems, and other economic targets. But to the Clinton/Gore White House, t
he greatest threat was
something far different. As former Secretary of State Warren Christopher assured his audience at Stanford University
in May 1996, the main threat is climate change produced by the burning of fuels that keep us warm, light our homes,
and run our cars. Tens of thousands of global
warming promoters jet around the world annually to attend UN
conferences in exotic locales while preaching the gospel of "renewable energy" based on solar and wind power, both
of which are currently impracticab
le and unlikely to be usable for many years. But after logging thousands of miles and
burning millions of gallons of fuel, these promoters have yet to present convincing evidence that global warming poses
any environmental threat.

The theory of global wa
rming, which is actually a century old, is that increased levels of greenhouse gases in the
earth's atmosphere cause net increases in global temperatures. Though the doomsday scenarios generated by
proponents of this theory have not been verified by climat
ologists, the political community of Washington, D.C., has
made the alleged phenomenon a national priority; and the UN has made it a global one. The chief U.S. protagonist is
certainly former Vice President Al Gore, the author of
Earth in the Balance
, whic
h became the bible of environmental
extremism.... Gore's disciples were everywhere in the Clinton administration, chiefly in Carol Browner's Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) but also in the Departments of State and Defense.

Political Jostling

ress appears to be squarely opposed to Gore's radical brand of environmentalism. In July 1997, the U.S. Senate
voted 95
0 for the Byrd
Hagel Resolution, which opposes any global
warming mitigation scheme that would damage
the U.S. economy or let other nati
ons off the hook. The Clinton White House promptly reinterpreted this bipartisan
rejection of mandatory cutbacks in the use of fuels as allowing it to agree to "meaningful reductions" by "key nations,"
with the definitions to be supplied later. In December

1997, at the Kyoto conference of the Parties to the UN Climate
Treaty, the U.S. delegation ignored the Senate resolutions altogether and accepted a 7 percent reduction of fossil fuel
use, which works out to a whopping 35 percent cut by the year 2010. A ye
ar later, a minor State Department official
quietly signed the Kyoto Protocol on behalf of the United States, though it was not submitted to the Senate for

The Clinton administration and Congress played a cat
mouse game, each trying to
win the policy war and finally
sway public opinion. EPA made a feeble attempt
scotched by Congress
to label carbon dioxide, the chief target of
the Kyoto Protocol, as a "pollutant," which would have permitted the federal government to control all emissio
ns of it,
under the Clean Air Act. Despite that setback, the Clinton White House managed to bleed money out of its $2
year climate
research program to study the possible effects of a putative global warming on different geographical
areas and pop
ulation groups of the United States. It held eighteen regional workshops, each exhibiting some regional
suitable horror scenario such as sea
level rise in Florida, disappearing glaciers in Montana, and floods, droughts, and
tornadoes in the Midwest. In rea
ction, Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R
MI) has added amendments to six appropriation bills,
to prohibit the use of funds for implementing, in any way, the purposes of the Kyoto Protocol. He claims strong
bipartisan support, including that of heavy
weights such as
Rep. John Dingell (D

Business and Labor

Both business and labor are internally divided on the issue. Energy companies tend to be against Kyoto, but foreign
based oil firms such as British Petroleum and Shell are at least speaking favorably about g
oing along, even as they
continue to sell petroleum products and search for more crude oil. In beggar
neighbor fashion, natural
gas firms
and pipeline companies hope to gain an advantage. This attitude can be found also in the ads of the nuclear indust
which is eager to burnish its public image as a non
emitter of greenhouse gases. The business opponents of Kyoto are
organized around the Global Climate Coalition, while the Kyoto supporters have the International Climate Change
Partnership. The Clinto
n White House tried to split industrial opposition further by offering "early credits" to firms that
reduce emissions voluntarily. These credits could become valuable if Kyoto is ever ratified and includes a trading
program in emission rights that can be s
old to firms that find it difficult to reduce emissions. Obviously, companies that
have earned early credits are more likely to become political boosters for Kyoto.

Support for Kyoto from labor is divided along white
collar lines. The United
Mine Workers have already
come out strongly against Kyoto because the agreement heavily penalizes coal use. Other unions, however, envision
a migration of manufacturing jobs out of the country if the United States accepts Kyoto's restrictions on energy use
collar workers, teachers, and public employees, of course, do not have this problem and can afford to cater to
their partisan interests, which are mostly Democratic. Many academics and media people tend to have a similar
mindset, and the possible l
oss of millions of blue
collar jobs leaves them unconcerned.

Environmental Propaganda

Environmental pressure groups, however, provide most of the real excitement. Greenpeace is no longer just focusing
on seal pups and dolphins, and Ozone Action has sto
pped worrying about the stratospheric ozone layer. Global
warming is the new cash cow for these organizations, and everyone wants a piece of it. The newest kid on the block,
in fact, is really no kid at all but a well
funded propaganda operation to promote

the Kyoto Protocol to industry, set up
by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the beneficiary of ultraconservative Joe Pew's Sun Oil money. Of course, there are think
tanks on the other side as well (such as the Cato Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Instit
ute), spreading the
message that the best information available from climate science contradicts the alleged need for drastic policies
certain to cause great economic harm. Needless to say, these groups don't get any government money.

Media Bandwagon

he media play a crucial role in the ongoing debate. While they overwhelmingly believe that global warming is a
looming problem that calls for fairly drastic measures, most try to mention, somewhere, an opposing viewpoint, but
they often identify it with in
dustry and therefore, by implication, as self
serving and not worth listening to. The
Washington Post

New York Times

have had environmental reporters who practiced blatant advocacy rather than
journalism. These extremists have been replaced by less obv
ious partisans.

An interesting example is provided by
Brill's Content
, which prides itself on being above the fray. It investigated a case
in which the
International Herald Tribune (IHT)

published an op
ed signed by two scientists, George Woodwell and
hn Holdren, featuring ad hominem attacks on scientists skeptical toward the global warming hypothesis. The op
it turned out, had been submitted by Ozone Action (OA) and may even have been written by that organization
which case the

should certa
inly have informed its readers of the authors' interest, as

noted. After the editor


ombudsman Bill Kovach investigated. He was assured by the scientists that they had written
the piece, but he found that OA had "helped wi
th research." Unfortunately, his report leaves open the question of
exactly who drafted the op
ed. If the "research" consisted of several well
chosen paragraphs that the scientists signed,
perhaps after minor changes, they did not "write" the op
ed in the
accepted sense of the term. Kovach, however, failed
to follow up on that question and dismissed as mere "coincidences"

correspondences between the op
ed and a
propaganda flyer put out by OA during the same week. One example of these correspondences:
Both op
ed and flyer
attacked the skeptics' position in the same words, claiming that it "dissolves under close scrutiny."

Scientific societies and journals tend to express a range of views, depending on who's in charge. For example, when
Dr. Jane Lubche
nco, an Oregon State marine ecologist, served a term as president of the American Association for
the Advancement of Science, she used her office to promote White House positions on global warming, cooperating
with Ozone Action, until journalists got wise
to her doings. Scientific journals often change their policies depending on
who the editor happens to be.
Chemical & Engineering News
, the flagship publication of the American Chemical
Society, permits its environmental reporters to practice advocacy rathe
r than journalism. Science organizations need to
practice adult supervision to prevent such abuses.

Scientists Skeptical

Although the mass media have come to a consensus on global warming, the scientific community has not. Surface
temperature data do s
how a warming since about 1850, the end of the "Little Ice Age," but most of it occurred before
1940, after which the climate cooled for more than three decades. Weather satellite data, the only truly global
measurements, show no current warming, in direct

disagreement with the best computer
created climate model
predictions. Critics can say "garbage in, garbage out" regarding the computer predictions, but climate models are the
only tools available for predicting future climate conditions. Unless validated

by scientific observations, the models
cannot justify drastic actions that will inevitably lead to economic decline, to solve a "problem" that has not been
observed in reality but only predicted by computers fed information by fallible human beings with t
heir own judgments
of what is important to consider. No wise person would buy an expensive insurance policy without some evidence of
risk. Moreover, renowned economists assure us that a warming of the planet would actually bring benefits, not losses.
ulture, for example, can only benefit from more rain with fewer severe storms, milder winters, longer growing
seasons, and higher levels of carbon dioxide. And contrary to the conventional wisdom, global warming would not
speed up the rise of sea level but

might actually slow it down because increased evaporation from the oceans leads to
more precipitation and increased ice accumulation in the polar regions.

The lack of scientific consensus on the causes and possible effects of global warming is easily de
monstrated. Many
scientists show "concern" in public but voice doubts in private. Government funding agencies, which support much
scientific research, are unlikely to support a proposal unless it expresses deep concern about global warming and
explains how

the study will save the world. Other scientists don't have such constraints. The "dwindling band of
skeptics" who consider climate warming the "empirical equivalent of the Easter Bunny" (as Al Gore put it) is growing
rapidly. In fact, a real thorn in Gore
's side is the "Leipzig Declaration," which grew out of a scientific conference held in
that city in November 1995 and has been signed by more than a hundred climate scientists. After highlighting the
shaky science supporting the global warming scare and t
he absence of any scientific consensus, it concluded: "In a
world in which poverty is the greatest social pollutant, any restriction on energy use that inhibits economic growth
should be viewed with caution. For this reason, we consider 'carbon taxes' and
other drastic control policies
credible support from the underlying science
to be ill
advised, premature, wrought with economic danger, and likely to
be counter
productive." A group of broadcast meteorologists and a number of state climatologists

have signed similar
documents. Even more impressive is the 1998 "Oregon Petition" against the Kyoto Protocol, which was signed by
nearly 20,000 scientists.

Partisan Politics and Global Warming

A puzzling fact about the whole global
warming debate is t
hat although it should be a question of science, proponents
of the Kyoto Protocol tend to be Left
wing, liberal, and Democratic, while opponents are overwhelmingly Right
conservative, and Republican. Perhaps the best explanation for this pattern is t
hat the policies proposed to mitigate
global warming would certainly lead to massive expansion of government control of economic operations and personal
behavior, affecting the use of energy, automobiles, and everything from recycling to enforced conservat
ion. It would
also require a much greater involvement of the United Nations, overriding many aspects of national sovereignty. The
Left considers these measures good and indeed necessary because they subscribe to Al Gore's vision of the world. A
majority of

the Right, however, strongly opposes anything that impinges on personal freedom.

The public, strangely enough, has not shown much interest in global warming. In a 1989 survey of American adults,
only 35 percent expressed concern. By 1997, the response w
as even lower; only 24 percent said that they worried a
"great deal" about global warming. Citizens have strong preferences for personal cars, SUVs, and private
transportation, and they hate it when the electricity goes out. They apparently consider energy

use absolutely essential
to modern daily life. The public also has widely varying views about the proper role of government, which were tested
during the November 2000 presidential elections. [President] George W. Bush, although ambivalent about the clima
science, opposes Kyoto. Bush supporters were hoping that Gore would make the climate issue the centerpiece of his
campaign. Here, oddly enough, they were on the same wavelength as the environmentalists. During an Earth Day
event, Greenpeace activists he
ckled the then
Vice President with hoots of "Al Gore, read your book!"
Earth in the

may finally get the close scrutiny it deserves.

Global Warming Threatens the World Economy

Edward Goldsmith and Caspar Henderson

Edward Goldsmith is founder
and publisher of

The Ecologist,
Europe's leading environmental journal. He has also
written several books critiquing industrialism and promoting environmental sustainability, including

The Case Against
the Global Economy and for the Local.
Caspar Henderson

is a journalist and consultant specializing in environment,
security, and development

Source Database:

At Issue: Is Global Warming a Threat?

Climate change induced by global warming will devastate the world economy unless governments take measures now
to reduce emissions of heat
trapping greenhouse gases. Rising sea levels could flood major coastal cities, displacing
urban populations, exacerbating poverty and social disorder, and damaging the tourism industry. Extreme weather
events, which are expected

to become more frequent as global temperatures rise, could result in catastrophic property
damage that would destroy the insurance industry. Since insurance companies are major investors in the world's
financial markets, their collapse would adversely aff
ect other sectors of the global economy, such as manufacturing.
Industrialists who avoid facing the problem of global warming are contributing to their own demise.

Industrialists who continue to lobby governments to prevent them from taking the necessary
action to combat climate
change try to persuade themselves that inaction is in the best interests of their businesses and the economy itself.
Given the enormous financial costs climate change will inflict, such an attitude is short
sighted in the extreme.

The first and most obvious way in which climate change will affect the economy is by the predicted sea
level rises.
These ... can increase from a mere 20 centimetres to several metres, depending on the effect of global warming on the
Arctic and Antarctic

sheets. According to the Organisation for Economic Co
operation and Development (OECD),
economic damages and losses arising from climatic destabilisation could cost the global economy up to $970 billion
on the basis of the present models which ... te
nd to be optimistic. The opponents of appropriate preventive action must
realise that a one
metre rise will be sufficient to flood most of New York City, including the entire subway system and
all three major airports. New York, like many of the world's la
rgest cities, is situated along the coast. The population
densities of China's eleven coastal provinces average more than 600 people per square kilometre. Already nearly 40
per cent of the world's population lives within 100 kilometres of a coastline and m
ore and more people are moving to
coastal areas which are being increasingly degraded.

Let us not forget too, that the biggest industry of the world today is tourism. Most of it is in coastal areas and brings in
billions of dollars in revenues every year
. It would be foolish to suppose that tourism would not be affected by the
consequent flooding of most of the beaches bordering tourist resorts, or by drastic heat
waves, water shortages and
recurrent storms of greater and greater intensity, not to mention

the effect on winter sports of retreating glaciers and
ever thinner snow at ski resorts.

It would be equally foolish to suppose that the growing hordes of refugees will not affect the economy. It is only a
question of time before state services are over
whelmed by a vast population of destitute people in the cities. The
corresponding increase in crime and social disorder is very likely to interfere with commercial activities.

The effect on the insurance industry

The insurance industry is particularly
vulnerable of course, and is becoming seriously concerned about what the future
holds out for them. As Jeremy Leggett, who made a special study of this issue when he was Science Director of
Greenpeace, notes, "Given only a slight increase in the scope for
windstorms, drought
related wildfires, and floods, the
$2 trillion insurance industry would be in danger of global collapse, with knock
on economic consequences which are
completely ignored in most analyses of climate change." Property
catastrophe losses h
ave already been enormous in
recent years. 1992 was, at the time, the worst year ever, with global climatic natural catastrophe losses of over $22
billion, up 87 per cent on 1991, even allowing for inflation. 1993 was also a very bad year for disasters, es
flooding. In 1995, weather extremes caused $100 billion worth of damage, the highest figure ever, in 1996 the figure
stood at $60 billion, and in 1998, costs to insurance companies rose to $90 billion, and it can only get worse.

"Comparing the f
igures for the 1960s and the last ten years, we have established that the number of great natural
catastrophes is three times larger," says Dr Gerhard Berz, Head of Geoscience Research at Munich Re, the world's
largest reinsurer. "The cost to the world's e
conomies after adjusting for inflation is nine times higher, and for the
insurance industry three times as much."

According to research by Munich Re, there were more than 700 so
called 'large loss events' around the globe in 1998.
These accounted for 85
per cent of economic losses and killed around 50,000 people. The most frequent natural
catastrophes were windstorms, of which there were 240 significant ones, and floods, of which there were 170. In 1995,
the previous most calamitous year, there were 100 f
ewer large loss events. In Britain the losses from flood damage for
1998 may top 1 billion pounds
"the worst floods anyone can remember, and happening twice within one year," says
one observer.

Munich Re clearly fingers global warming as the culprit for

the extreme weather that has caused these mounting
losses. Dr Gerhard Berz argues that a "further advance in man
made climate change will almost inevitably bring us
increasingly extreme natural events and consequently increasingly large catastrophe losses

Julian Salt, a disaster assessment expert at the Loss Prevention Council, says "the reinsurance pool contains
between $200 billion and $300 billion. A couple of big storms in the wrong place
major cities on the US mainland, for
could pretty
much wipe that out." At the very least, he says, this would cause major dislocations to the world
economy as insurers, facing heavy losses, pulled in their horns. Insurance companies are major investors in pension
funds that contribute around a third of th
e capital in world financial markets. If they were to collapse then the effects on
the economic system would be devastating.

Industrialists need to wake up

The insurance industry's dire prospects clearly augur ill for every sector of the economy, inclu
ding manufacturing
industry. Industrialists who still insist on opposing and preventing any action from being taken, on the grounds that it
would cost too much, should enter the real world and wake up to the fact that the costs inflicted upon them through
inaction will be enormous. If greenhouse gas emissions are allowed to continue to rise and global warming run its
course, we will be facing by far and away the greatest catastrophe that our species has ever faced. Whatever may
happen to the economy, what i
s absolutely certain is that we cannot live without a relatively stable climate and in
particular one to which we and all the other forms of life with which we share this planet have been adapted by their
evolution. To continue, therefore, to destabilis
e climate in order to satisfy what are referred to as economic
requirements (but which in effect are those particular economic requirements needed to satisfy the immediate interests
of the large transnational corporations that have come to dominate the eco
nomy), is at once an absurdity and a crime.
Those who control these corporations, the governments, and the public at large, must recreate an economy that can
function satisfactorily without disrupting our climate and indeed without continuing to pillage th
e natural world on whose
integrity a stable climate ultimately depends.

The Endangered Species Act Is a Failure

Jeff Jacoby

Source Database:

Opposing Viewpoints: Endangered Species

Endangered Species

Act (ESA) was signed
into law by then
president Richard Nixon in 1973 in an effort to save
species in danger of extinction. In the following viewpoint, Jeff Jacoby argues that the ESA may have saved a few
species, but overall it has led to the destruction of many more. Jacoby
maintains that the ESA imposes high economic
costs on private property owners by restricting activities like logging and farming if
endangered species

are found on
their land. To counter such costs and restrictions, Jacoby reports that many landowners ofte
n kill the animals or
destroy their habitat before the government finds them. Jacoby is a syndicated conservative columnist.

As you read, consider the following questions:

1. According to Jacoby, what are the real reasons twenty
nine species may be taken

off the
endangered species


2. What are two of the most significant factors contributing to the recovery of the Aleutian Canada goose, according to
the author?

3. How have the private initiatives of the Peregrine Fund and the Nature Conservancy hel
ped conservation efforts,
according to Jacoby?

As the
Endangered Species

Act marks its 25th anniversary in 1998, the official number of
endangered species

near its all
time high. According to the US Fish & Wildlife Service, 1,135 plants and animals ar
e on the brink of
extinction. By contrast, only 27 species have been "delisted"
that is, taken off the list because they are no longer

The law was enacted with noble motives and high hopes, but it has proved a bust. For 25 years, it has impo
severe controls and prohibitions on any use of any property that might in any way threaten an
endangered species
. It
is a law with such sharp teeth that it has stopped multimillion
dollar construction projects in their tracks to protect the
habitat of
a tiny fish or little
known weed. Yet after a quarter
century of this relentless protection, more than 97 percent
of the

list is, by the government's own reckoning, endangered.

The ESA Is No Success

Make that 96 percent. Interior Sec
retary Bruce Babbitt has just proposed de
listing another 29 species. That would
leave a mere 1,106 to go. Don't break out the champagne just yet.

There are clearly huge problems with a law that has taken so long to accomplish so little. But rather than
those problems and try to correct them, Babbitt insists that the ESA is a ringing success.

"We can now finally prove one thing conclusively," he declared in the western Massachusetts town of Gill [in June
1998]. "The
Endangered Species

Act wo
rks. Period."

But as Brian Seasholes of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a public
policy center in Washington has
demonstrated, almost none of the success stories on Babbitt's list are due to the ESA. Most of the 29 species
proposed for de
it turns out, (a) were never endangered in the first place, (b) were revived by methods
unrelated to the ESA, (c) were resurrected on lands where ESA restrictions don't apply, or (d) are not even valid

Take Babbitt's most dramatic example: the b
ald eagle. When it was listed as endangered in 1974, only 1,600 of the
majestic birds were left. Today, there are more than 10,000. "One of the greatest success stories of the

Act," Babbitt cheers.

Untrue. For starters, the number of b
ald eagles was already on the rise when Congress passed the ESA
the 1,600
flying in 1974 were nearly double the 834 that had existed 10 years earlier.

Moreover, writes Seasholes, it was "the banning of the pesticide DDT in 1972, not the passage of the E
SA in 1973,
(that) was the most important factor in its resurgence." Bald eagles were dying out because DDT was causing them to
lay thin
shelled eggs that broke before hatching. Once DDT was eliminated from the food chain, the birds' eggs
reverted to norma
and the populations of eagles soared. The ESA had little if anything to do with it.

Another example: the Aleutian Canada goose. Its population has indeed rebounded, but not because of restrictions
imposed by the ESA on private landowners. According to

Seasholes, the Aleutian goose nests on

National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Its numbers started growing when the Fish and Wildlife Service started shooting
foxes, a predator. And "the provision of wintering habitat, almost totally by pr
ivate landowners ... was the second
significant factor."

read that last sentence. Time and again, it is

initiative that has saved threatened species from extinction or

The half
million members of Ducks Unlimited, many of them

avid duck
hunters, have preserved more than 6 million
acres of wetlands in the organization's 60 years. The Peregrine Fund breeds falcons, condors, and other birds of prey
for release into the wild. The Nature Conservancy raises and spends hundreds of mil
lions of dollars to purchase land
for preservation. Similar cases abound.

What these organizations have in common is a reliance on private initiative and property rights to preserve species
and cultivate habitat. They recognize that no one has a greater
incentive to be a good steward of nature than those
who have the freedom to benefit by it.

The ESA Harms Species

Endangered Species

Act does the reverse: It strips property owners of their rights, punishing them for owning
land on which a listed sp
ecies makes its home. It imposes economic costs so harsh
forcing owners to sacrifice the
use of their property without reimbursing them for the loss
that there is no incentive to protect habitat that might
nurture those species.

Under ESA, write Joseph

Bast, Peter Hill, and Richard Rue in their 1994 book
, the discovery "of an eagle
or spotted owl nesting on private land means a forest can no longer be logged, or a house cannot be built, or part of a
golf course or campground must be closed. T
o avoid losing use of a valuable asset, a landowner might be tempted to
destroy a nest or even kill an endangered animal. Alternatively, the owner might allow critical habitat to be destroyed
by logging or developing as quickly as possible, before anyone e
lse can see and report the protected animal."

The ESA may protect some plants and animals that would otherwise disappear. But it has undoubtedly caused the
deliberate destruction of millions of other endangered plants and animals. That is why, after 25 y
ears, 97 percent of the
endangered species

list remains endangered. The
Endangered Species

Act manifestly needs an overhaul. Why
won't Bruce Babbitt say so?


: These five extinct species have been removed from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser
vice's list of species on its
Web site at:

Genetic Engineering May Harm Society

Jeremy Rifkin

Source Database:

Opposing Viewpoints: Genetic Engineering

Jeremy Rifkin is president of the Found
ation on Economic Trends and the author of over a dozen books examining the
impact of scientific and technological innovation on society, including
The Biotech Century: Harnessing the Gene and
Remaking the World
, from which the following viewpoint was adap
ted. In it, Rifkin predicts that
genetic engineering

will ultimately transform society just as the Industrial Revolution did. He doubts that advances in genetic manipulation
will be unequivocally beneficial, and warns that most people will welcome the new
technologies without considering
their potential dangers. He also raises the question of who
scientists, the government, or corporations
will decide
how these powerful technologies are used.

As you read, consider the following questions:

1. In the futu
ristic scenario outlined by biologist Lee Silver, as paraphrased by Rifkin, how will society be divided once
genetic engineering

of humans becomes commonplace?

2. According to Rifkin, how do modernist supporters of
genetic engineering

view nature?

3. What does the author believe is "the most troubling political question in all of human history"?

While the 20th century was shaped largely by spectacular breakthroughs in the fields of physics and chemistry, the
21st century will belong to the biolo
gical sciences. Scientists around the world are quickly deciphering the genetic code
of life, unlocking the mystery of millions of years of biological evolution on Earth. As a result of the new breakthroughs
in molecular biology and biotechnology, our way
of life is likely to be more fundamentally transformed in the next
several decades than in the previous thousand years. By the year 2025, we and our children may be living in a world
utterly different from anything human beings have ever experienced in the

past. Long
held assumptions about nature,
including our own human nature, are likely to be rethought. Ideas about equality and democracy are also likely to be
redefined, as well as our vision of what is meant by such terms as "free will" and "progress."..

Genetic Discrimination

Societies have always been divided between the haves and the have
nots, the powerful and the powerless, the elite
and the masses. Throughout history, people have been segregated by caste and class, with myriad rationales used t
justify the injustices imposed by the few on the many. Race, religion, language, and nationality are all well
methods of categorization and victimization. Now, with the emergence of the genetic revolution, society entertains the
prospect of a new an
d more serious form of segregation. One based on genotype....

Segregating individuals by their genetic makeup represents a fundamental shift in the exercise of power. In a society
in which the individual can be stereotyped by genotype, institutional powe
r of all kinds becomes more absolute. At the
same time, the increasing polarization of society into genetically "superior" and "inferior" individuals and groups will
create a new and powerful social dynamic. Families that can afford to program "superior" g
enetic traits into their
fetuses at conception will ensure their offspring an even greater biological advantage
and thus a social and economic
advantage as well. For the emerging "genetic underclass," the issue of genetic stereotyping is likely to lead to

protests and the birth of a worldwide "genetic rights" movement as an ever
growing number of victims of genetic
discrimination organize collectively to demand their right to participate freely and fully in the coming biotech century.

The Gen Ric
h vs. the Gen Poor

Some genetic engineers envision a future with a small segment of the human population engineered to "perfection,"
while others remain as flawed reminders of an outmoded evolutionary design. Molecular biologist Lee Silver of
Princeton U
niversity writes about a not too distant future made up of two distinct biological classes, which he refers to
as the "Gen Rich" and the "Naturals." The Gen Rich, who account for 10% of the population, have been enhanced with
synthetic genes and have becom
e the rulers of society. They include Gen Rich businesspeople, musicians, artists,
intellectuals, and athletes
each enhanced with specific synthetic genes to allow them to succeed in their respective
fields in ways not even conceivable among those born of

nature's lottery.

At the center of the new genetic aristocracy are the Gen Rich scientists, who are enhanced with special genetic traits
that increase their mental abilities, giving them power to dictate the terms of future evolutionary advances on Eart
Silver writes:

With the passage of time, the genetic distance between Naturals and the Gen Rich has become greater and greater,
and now there is little movement up from the Natural to the Gen Rich class.... All aspects of the economy, the media,
the e
ntertainment industry, and the knowledge industry are controlled by members of the Gen Rich class.... In contrast,
Naturals work as low
paid service providers or as laborers.... Gen Rich and Natural children grow up and live in
segregated social worlds whe
re there is little chance for contact between them.... [Eventually,] the Gen Rich class and
the Natural class will become the Gen Rich humans and the Natural humans
entirely separate species with no ability
to crossbreed and with as much romantic interest

in each other as a current human would have for a chimpanzee.

Silver acknowledges that the increasing polarization of society into a Gen Rich class and a Natural class might be
unfair, but he is quick to add that wealthy parents have always been able to

provide all sorts of advantages for their
children. "Anyone who accepts the right of affluent parents to provide their children with an expensive private school
education cannot use unfairness as a reason for rejecting the use of reprogenetic technologies
," Silver argues. Like
many of his colleagues, Silver is a strong advocate of the new genetic technologies. "In a society that values human
freedom above all else," he writes, "it is hard to find any legitimate basis for restricting the use of reprogenetic

Difficult Choices

Even with all the excitement being generated around the new genetic technologies, we sense, though dimly, the
menacing outline of a eugenics shadow on the horizon. Still, we would find it exceedingly difficult to say no to a
ological revolution that offers such an impressive array of benefits. Thus we find ourselves ensnared on the horns
of a dilemma as we make the first tentative moves into the biotech century. One part of us, our more ancient side,
reels at the prospect of t
he further desacralizing of life, of reducing ourselves and all other sentient creatures to
chemical codes to be manipulated for purely instrumental and utilitarian ends. Our other side, the one firmly
entrenched in modernity, is zealously committed to bri
nging the biology of the planet in line with engineering
standards, market forces, and progressive values. Not to proceed with this revolution is unthinkable, as it would violate
the very spirit of progress
a spirit that knows no bounds in its restless se
arch to wrest power from the natural world.

Perfecting Nature

The biotech revolution represents the culmination of the Enlightenment vision, a world view that has provided a
philosophical and social road map for modern man and woman for more than 200 y
ears. Finding new, more powerful
technological ways of controlling and harnessing nature for utilitarian and commercial ends has been the ultimate
dream and central motif of the modern age. It was Francis Bacon, the founder of modern science, who urged fut
generations to "squeeze," "mould," and "shape" nature in order to "enlarge the bounds of human empire to the
effecting of all things possible." Armed with the scientific method, Bacon was convinced that we had, at long last, a
methodology that would al
low us "the power to conquer and subdue" nature and to "shake her to her foundations."
Bacon laid the groundwork for the Enlightenment era that followed by providing a systematic vision for humanity's final
triumph over nature. Isaac Newton, René Descartes
, John Locke, and other Enlightenment philosophers constructed a
world view that continues to inspire today's molecular biologists and corporate entrepreneurs in their quest to capture
and colonize the last frontier of nature, the genetic commons that is t
he heart of the natural world.

The biotech century promises to complete the modernists' journey by "perfecting" both human nature and the rest of
nature, all in the name of progress. The short
term benefits of the emerging Biotechnological Age appear so
impressive that any talk of curtailing or preventing their widespread application is likely to be greeted with incredulity, i
not outright hostility. Who could oppose the engineering of new plants and animals to feed a hungry world? Who could
object to en
gineering new forms of biological energy to replace a dwindling reserve of fossil fuels? Who could protest
the introduction of new microbes to eat up toxic wastes and other forms of chemical pollution? Who could refuse
genetic surgery to eliminate cripplin
g diseases? How could anyone in good conscience oppose a technology that
offers such hope for bettering the lot of humanity?

The Benefits of
Genetic Engineering

In the years to come, a multitude of new
genetic engineering

techniques will be forthcoming
. Every one of the
breakthroughs in biotechnology will be of benefit to someone, under some circumstance, somewhere in society. Each
will, in some way, appear to advance the future security of an individual, a group, or society as a whole. The point that
eeds to be emphasized is that bioengineering is coming to us not as a threat but as a promise, not as a punishment
but as a gift. While the thought of engineering living organisms still conjures up sinister images in the movies, it no
longer does so in the

marketplace. Quite the contrary, what we see before our eyes are not monstrosities but useful
products and hopeful futures. We no longer feel dread, but only elated expectation at the great possibilities that lie in
store for each of us in the biotech cen

For its most ardent supporters, engineering life to improve humanity's own prospects is, no doubt, seen as the highest
expression of ethical behavior. Any resistance to the new technology is likely to be castigated by the growing legion of
true bel
ievers as inhuman, irresponsible, morally reprehensible, and perhaps even criminally culpable.

Who Will Control These New Technologies?

On the other hand, the new
genetic engineering

technologies raise one of the most troubling political questions in a
of human history. To whom, in this new era, would we entrust the authority to decide what is a good gene that should
be added to the gene pool and what is a bad gene that should be eliminated? Should we entrust the federal
government with that authority
? Corporations? The university scientists? From this perspective, few of us are able to
point to any institution or group of individuals we would entrust with decisions of such import. If, however, we were
asked whether we would sanction new biotech advanc
es that could enhance the physical, emotional, and mental well
being of people, we would not hesitate for a moment to add our support.

We appear caught between our instinctual distrust of the institutional forces that are quickly consolidating their powe
over the new genetic technologies and our desire to increase our own personal choices and options in the biological
marketplace. While control of the new genetic technologies is being concentrated in the hands of scientists,
transnational companies, gove
rnment agencies, and other institutions, the products and services are being marketed
under the guise of expanding freedom of choice for millions of consumers.

In the early stages of this new technological and commercial revolution, the informal bargain
being struck between the
governing institutions of society and consumers appears to be a reasonable one. Biotechnology has much to offer.
But, as with the introduction of other technological innovations throughout history, the final costs have yet to be
lculated. Granting a specific institution or group of individuals the power to determine a better
engineered crop or
animal or a new human hormone seems a trifle in comparison with the potential returns. It is only when one considers
the lifetime of the ag
reement that the full import of the politics of the Biotechnological Age becomes apparent.

A Profound New Ability to Shape the Future

Throughout history, some people have always controlled the futures of other people. Today, the ultimate exercise of
wer is within our grasp: the ability to control, at the most fundamental level, the future lives of unborn generations by
engineering their biology in advance, making them "partial" hostages of their own architecturally designed blueprints. I
use the word
"partial" because, like many others, I believe that environment is a major contributing factor in
determining the course of one's life. It is also true, however, that one's genetic makeup plays a role in helping to shape
one's destiny.
Genetic engineering

then, represents the power of authorship, albeit "limited" authorship. Being able
to engineer even minor changes in the physical and behavioral characteristics of future generations represents a new
era in human history. Never before has such power over h
uman life been even a possibility.

Should power of this sort be granted to any public or commercial institution or, for that matter, even to consumers?
Whether institutionally motivated or consumer driven, the power to determine the genetic destiny of mi
llions of human
beings yet to come lessens the opportunities of every new arrival to shape his or her own personal life story.

Still, at the dawn of the biotech century, the authorial power, though formidable, appears so far removed from any
potential th
reat to individual human will as to be of little concern. Many of us will be eager to take advantage of the new
gene therapies, both for ourselves and for our offspring, if they deliver on their promise to enhance our physical,
emotional, and mental health
. After all, part of the essence of being truly human is the desire to alleviate suffering and
enhance human potential.

The problem is that biotechnology has a distinct beginning but no clear end. Cell by cell, tissue by tissue, organ by
organ, we might
willingly surrender our personhood in the marketplace. In the process, each loss will be compensated
for with a perceived gain until there is little left to exchange. It is at that very point that the cost of our agreement
becomes apparent. But it is also
at that point that we may no longer possess the very thing we were so anxious to
enrich: our humanity. In the decades to come, we humans might well barter ourselves away, one gene at a time, in
exchange for some measure of temporary well
being. In the end,

the personal and collective security we fought so
long and hard to preserve may well be irreversibly compromised in pursuit of our own engineered perfection.

Genetic Engineering Has Many Benefits for Society

Biotechnology Industry Organization

med in 1993, Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) represents biotechnology companies, academic
institutions, state biotechnology centers, and related organizations that support the use of biotechnology in agriculture,
health care, and other fields. BI
O works to educate the public about biotechnology and responds to concerns about the
safety and ethics of genetic engineering. The organization has members from over forty
four nations

Source Database:

At Issue: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

The fi
eld of
genetic engineering

is still in its infancy but is already promising many valuable health care applications
for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases. Genetic engineers are developing tests that can identify
patients with a propensity

for a particular disease and give them the chance to take measures to avoid getting sick.
They are also creating tests that allow diseases to be diagnosed in their early stages, thereby improving the prognosis
for patients. Another benefit of
genetic engi

is the development of gene therapies to treat diseases such as
cancer, chronic heart failure, and diabetes. Although biotechnology has already greatly improved health care, future
advances in genetic research and product development will revolution
ize the practice of medicine.

Biotechnology tools and techniques open new research avenues for discovering how healthy bodies work and what
goes wrong when problems arise. Knowing the molecular basis of health and disease leads to improved and novel
ds for treating and preventing diseases. In human health care, biotechnology products include quicker and more
accurate diagnostic tests, therapies with fewer side effects because they are based on the body's self
capabilities, and new and safer va

The wealth of genomics information made available by the Human Genome Project1 will greatly assist doctors in early
diagnosis of hereditary diseases, such as type I diabetes, cystic fibrosis, early
onset Alzheimer's and Parkinson's
disease, th
at previously were detectable only after clinical symptoms appeared. Genetic tests will also identify patients
with a propensity to diseases, such as various cancers, osteoporosis, emphysema, type II diabetes and asthma, giving
patients an opportunity to p
revent the disease by avoiding the triggers, such as diet, smoking and other environmental

Genetic engineering

uses natural products as therapeutics

Many living organisms produce compounds that coincidentally have therapeutic value for us.
For example, most
antibiotics are produced by microbes, and a number of medicines on the market, such as digitalis, are plant products.
Plant cell culture, recombinant DNA [deoxyribonucleic acid] technology and cellular cloning, now provide us with new
s to tap into natural diversity. As a result, we are investigating many plants and animals as sources of new
medicines. Ticks could provide anticoagulants, and poison
arrow frogs might be a source of new painkillers. A fungus
produces a novel, antioxidant
enzyme that is particularly efficient at mopping up free radicals known to encourage
tumor growth.

The ocean presents a particularly rich habitat for potential new medicines. Marine biotechnologists have discovered
organisms containing compounds that cou
ld heal wounds, destroy tumors, prevent inflammation, relieve pain and kill
microorganisms. Shells from marine crustaceans, such as shrimp and crabs, are made of chitin, a carbohydrate that is
proving to be an effective drug
delivery vehicle....

Gene the
rapy is a promising technology that uses genes, or related molecules such as RNA [ribonucleic acid] to treat
diseases. For example, rather than giving daily injections of missing proteins, physicians could supply the patient's
body with an accurate instruc
tion manual
a nondefective gene
correcting the genetic defect so the body itself makes
the proteins. Other genetic diseases could be treated by using small pieces of RNA to block mutated genes.

Only certain genetic diseases are amenable to correction v
ia replacement gene therapy. These are diseases caused
by the lack of a protein, such as hemophilia and severe combined immunodeficiency disease (SCID), commonly
known as the "bubble boy disease." Some children with SCID are being treated with gene therapy

and enjoying
relatively normal lives. Hereditary disorders that can be traced to the production of a defective protein, such as
Huntington's disease, are best treated with RNA that interferes with protein production.

Medical researchers have also discov
ered that gene therapy can treat diseases other than hereditary genetic
disorders. They have used briefly introduced genes, or transient gene therapy, as therapeutics for a variety of cancers,
autoimmune disease, chronic heart failure, disorders of the ner
vous system and AIDS.

Cell transplants

Approximately 10 people die each day waiting for organs to become available for transplantation. To circumvent this
problem, scientists are investigating how to use cell culture to increase the number of patients
who might benefit from
one organ donor. Liver cells grown in culture and implanted into patients kept them alive until a liver became available.
To treat type 1 diabetes, researchers implanted insulin
producing cells from organ donors into the subjects' li
Eighty percent of the patients required no insulin injections one year after receiving pancreatic cells; after two years, 71
percent had no need for insulin injections, in another study, skeletal muscle cells from the subject repaired damage to
ac muscle caused by a heart attack.

As is true of patients receiving whole
organ transplant, expensive drugs for suppressing the immune response must
be given if the transplanted cells are from someone other than the patient. Researchers are devising way
s to keep the
immune system from attacking the new cells. Cell encapsulation allows cells to secrete hormones or provide a specific
metabolic function without being recognized by the immune system. As such, they can be implanted without rejection.
Other re
searchers are genetically engineering cells to express a naturally occurring protein that disables immune
system cells that bind to it.

Other conditions that could potentially be treated with cell transplants are cirrhosis, epilepsy and Parkinson's disea

The functions of our immune system

We are using biotechnology to enlist the help of our immune systems in fighting a variety of diseases. Like the armed
forces that defend countries, the immune system is made up of different branches, each containi
ng different types of
"soldiers" that interact with each other and the role players in other branches in complex, multifaceted ways.

For example, the cytokine branch stimulates other immune system branches and includes the interleukins, interferons
and c
stimulating factors, all of which are proteins. Because of biotechnology, they can now be produced in
sufficient quantities to be marketed as therapeutics. Small doses of interleukin
2 have been effective in treating various
cancers and AIDS, while i
12 has shown promise in treating infectious diseases such as malaria and

Researchers can also increase the number of a specific type of cell, with a highly specific function, from the cellular
branch of the immune system. Under c
ertain conditions, the immune system may not produce enough of the cell type
a patient needs. Cell culture and natural growth factors that stimulate cell division allow researchers to shift the cellular

balance toward the needed cell type.

Cancer vaccine
s that help the immune system find and kill tumors have also shown therapeutic potential. Unlike other
vaccines, cancer vaccines are given after the patient has contracted the disease, so they are not preventative. They
work by intensifying the reactions b
etween the immune system and tumor.

In organ
transplant rejections and autoimmune diseases, suppressing our immune system is in our best interest.
Currently we are using monoclonal antibodies [derived from a single cell] to suppress, very selectively, th
e type of cell
in the immune system responsible for organ
transplant rejection and autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid
arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Patients given the biotechnology
based therapeutic show significantly less transplant
rejection tha
n those given cyclosporin, a medicine that suppresses all immune function and leaves organ
patients vulnerable to infection.

Inflammation, another potentially destructive immune system response, can cause diseases characterized by chronic
ammation, such as ulcerative colitis.... A number of biotechnology companies are investigating therapeutic
compounds that block the actions or decrease production of these cytokines.

The promise of xenotransplantation

Organ transplantation provides an
especially effective, cost
efficient treatment for severe, life
threatening diseases of
the heart, kidney and other organs. According to the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS), in the United States
more than 60,000 people are on organ recipient lists,
while another 100,000 need organs, but are not on lists.

Organs and cells from other species
pigs and other animals
may be promising sources of donor organs and
therapeutic cells. This concept is called xenotransplantation.

The most significant obsta
cle to xenotransplantation is the immune system's self
protective response. When
nonhuman tissue is introduced into the body, the body cuts off blood flow to the donated organ. The most promising
method for overcoming this rejection may be various types of

genetic modification. One approach deletes the pig gene
for the enzyme that is the main cause of rejection; another adds human genetic material to disguise the pig cells as
human cells.

The potential spread of infectious disease from other species to hu
mans through xenotransplantation needs close
attention. However, a 1999 study of 160 people who had received pig cells as part of treatments showed no signs of ill
health related to this exposure. In addition, scientists have recently succeeded at deleting

the gene that triggers
immune activity from a type of pig that cannot be infected with the virus that causes the most concern.

Tissue engineering

Biotechnology permits the use of the human body's natural capacity to repair and maintain itself. The bod
y's toolbox
for self
repair and maintenance includes many different proteins and various populations of stem cells that have the
capacity to cure diseases, repair injuries and reverse age
related wear and tear.

Tissue engineering combines advances in cel
l biology and materials science, allowing us to create semi
tissues and organs in the lab. These tissues consist of biocompatible scaffolding material, which eventually degrades
and is absorbed, plus living cells grown using cell culture techniqu
es. Ultimately the goal is to create whole organs
consisting of different tissue types to replace diseased or injured organs.

The most basic forms of tissue engineering use natural biological materials, such as collagen, for scaffolding. For
example, two
layer skin is made by infiltrating a collagen gel with connective tissue cells, then creating the outer skin
with a layer of tougher protective cells. In other methods, rigid scaffolding, made of a synthetic polymer, is shaped and
then placed in the body
where new tissue is needed. Other synthetic polymers, made from natural compounds, create
flexible scaffolding more appropriate for soft
tissue structures, like blood vessels and bladders. When the scaffolding is
placed in the body, adjacent cells invade i
t. At other times, the biodegradable implant is spiked with cells grown in the
laboratory prior to implantation.

Simple tissues, such as skin and cartilage, were the first to be engineered successfully. Recently, however, physicians
have achieved remarka
ble results with a biohybrid kidney that maintains patients with acute renal failure until the
injured kidney repairs itself. A group of patients with only a 10 to 20 percent probability of survival regained normal
kidney function and left the hospital in
good health because the hybrid kidney prevented the events that typically follow
kidney failure: infection, sepsis and multi
organ failure. The hybrid kidney is made of hollow tubes seeded with kidney
stem cells that proliferate until they line the tube's
inner wall. These cells develop into the type of kidney cell that
releases hormones and is involved with filtration and transportation. In addition to carrying out these expected
metabolic functions, the cells in the hybrid kidney also responded to signals

produced by the patient's other organs and

Therapeutic proteins produced by transgenic animals

The human body produces an array of small proteins known as growth factors that promote cell growth, stimulate cell
division and, in some cases, gu
ide cell differentiation. These proteins can be used to help wounds heal, regenerate
injured tissue and advance the development of tissue engineering described earlier. As proteins they are prime
candidates for large
scale production by transgenic organism
s [containing genes from different species], which would
enable their use as therapeutic agents.

Some of the most common growth factors are epidermal growth factor, which stimulates skin cell division and could
be used to encourage wound healing; erythro
poietin, which stimulates the formation of red blood cells and was one of
the first biotechnology products; fibroblast growth factor, which stimulates cell growth and has been effective in healing
burns, ulcers and bone and growing new blood vessels in pat
ients with blocked coronary arteries; transforming growth
beta, which helps fetal cells differentiate into different tissue types and triggers the formation of new tissue in
adults; and nerve growth factors, which encourage nerve cells to grow, repa
ir damage and could be used in patients
with head and spinal cord injuries or degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.

Stem cells could revolutionize medicine

Stem cell research represents the cutting edge of science
a biotechnology method that uses

cell culture techniques
to grow and maintain stable cell lines. Stem cell therapies could revolutionize approaches for treating many of our most
deadly and debilitating diseases and afflictions such as diabetes, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, stroke and spinal

injuries. Development of the remarkable biohybrid kidney described above depended on a supply of kidney stem cells.
Doctors used blood stem cells to repair the damaged heart of a 16
old boy who had suffered a heart attack
following an accident t
hat punctured his heart. They harvested stem cells from his blood, rather than extracting them
from bone marrow, and injected them into the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle.

Most cells in the human body are differentiated
they have a specific shape, size and function. Some cells
exist only to carry oxygen through the bloodstream, others to transmit nerve signals to the brain and so forth. Stem
cells are cells that have not yet differentiated. Different types of stem cells d
isplay varying degrees of plasticity
regarding their potential fate.

In adults, some tissues maintain a population of stem cells to replenish cells that have died or been injured; other
tissues have no resident stem cell populations. When an adult stem c
ell receives a cue to differentiate, it first divides in
two: One daughter cell differentiates, the other remains undifferentiated, ensuring a continual supply of stem cells.
Bone marrow contains stem cells that can differentiate into any of the cell types

found in blood, such as red blood
cells, T
cells and lymphocytes, and bone. Liver stem cells can become any of the specialized cells of the liver
secreting cells, storage cells or cells that line the bile duct. But stem cells in the liver do not dif
ferentiate into T
and bone marrow stem cells do not become liver cells.

In 1998, researchers reported that they had established human embryonic stem lines. This breakthrough opened up
many avenues for treating diseases and healing injured tissue b
ecause embryonic stem cells can become any kind of
cell in the body. Embryonic stem cells are derived from a blastocyst, which is the ball of about 150 undifferentiated
cells from which an embryo develops. In addition to their total developmental plasticit
y, embryonic stem cells can
produce more of themselves without limit.

By starting with undifferentiated adult and embryonic stem cells, scientists may be able to grow cells to replace tissue
damaged from heart disease, spinal cord injuries and burns, and

to treat diseases such as Parkinson's, diabetes and
Alzheimer's by replacing malfunctioning cells with newly differentiated healthy cells. This process of culturing a line of
genetically identical cells to replace defective cells in the body is sometimes
referred to as therapeutic cloning.

Creating genetically identical cells

The potential value of stem cell therapy and tissue engineering can best be realized if the therapeutic stem cells and
the tissues derived from them are genetically identical to t
he patient receiving them. Therefore, unless the patient is
the source of the stem cells, the stem cells need to be "customized" by replacing the stem cell's genetic material with
the patient's before cueing the stem cells to differentiate into a specific
cell type. To date, this genetic material
replacement and reprogramming can be done effectively only with embryonic stem cells.

Biotechnology vaccines

Vaccines help the body recognize and fight infectious diseases. Conventional vaccines use weakened or

killed forms
of a virus or bacteria to stimulate the immune system to create the antibodies that will provide resistance to the
disease. Usually only one or a few proteins on the surface of the bacteria or virus, called antigens, trigger the
production of

antibodies. Biotechnology is helping us improve existing vaccines and create new vaccines against
infectious agents, such as the viruses that cause cervical cancer and genital herpes.

Most of the new vaccines consist only of the antigen [immune stimulat
ing substance], not the actual microbe [germ].
The vaccine is made by inserting the gene that produces the antigen into a manufacturing cell, such as yeast. During
the manufacturing process, which is similar to brewing beer, each yeast cell makes a perfect

copy of itself and the
antigen gene. The antigen is later purified. By isolating antigens and producing them in the laboratory, it is possible to
make vaccines that cannot transmit the virus or bacterium itself. This method also increases the amount of va
that can be manufactured because, unlike traditional vaccine production, biotechnology vaccines can be made without
using live animals.

Using these techniques of biotechnology, scientists have developed antigen
only vaccines against life
diseases such as hepatitis B and meningitis.

Recently we have discovered that injecting small pieces of DNA from microbes is sufficient for triggering antibody
production. Such DNA vaccines could provide immunization against microbes for which we curre
ntly have no vaccines.
DNA vaccines against HIV, malaria and the influenza virus are currently in clinical trials.

Biotechnology is also broadening the vaccine concept beyond protection against infectious organisms. Various
researchers are developing vac
cines against diseases such as diabetes, chronic inflammatory disease, Alzheimer's
disease and cancers.

Whether the vaccine is a live virus, coat protein or a piece of DNA, vaccine production requires elaborate and costly
facilities and procedures. And t
hen there's the issue of painful injections. Industrial and academic researchers are
using biotechnology to circumvent both of these problems with edible vaccines manufactured by plants and animals.

Genetically modified goats have produced a possible mal
aria vaccine in their milk. University researchers have
obtained positive results using human volunteers who consumed hepatitis vaccines in bananas, and E. coli and
cholera vaccines in potatoes. In addition, because these vaccines are genetically incorpora
ted into food plants and
need no refrigeration, sterilization equipment or needles, they may prove useful in developing countries.

Researchers are also developing skin patch vaccines for tetanus, anthrax and E. coli.

The future of medicine

While biot
echnology has already had a significant impact on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases, the
best is yet to come. We are entering a new era in medical research, disease diagnosis and health
care provision.

These advances will bring about ra
dically new approaches to health care The practice of medicine will be
fundamentally changed, becoming more comprehensive and integrated, highly individualized and more preventive
rather than simply therapeutic.


1. a national research project t
o identify and sequence the genes in human DNA

The Endangered Species Act Is Effective

Robert Kahn

Source Database:

Opposing Viewpoints: Endangered Species

In the following viewpoint, Robert Kahn argues that the
Endangered S

Act (ESA) has forced people to view
other species as important to human survival and has saved many
endangered species

from extinction. He maintains
that government actions like the ban on DDT that saved the peregrine falcon were imposed in conjunct
ion with the
ESA and that other efforts like local habitat conservation plans succeeded due to the requirements of the act. Kahn is
an editor for the
San Diego North County Times

As you read, consider the following questions:

1. According to Kahn, what
species did the DDT ban save?

2. Why won't biological monitors at building sites report illegal activities, according to the author?

3. What happens to the moths, according to the author, when all the jimson weed is killed?

The impact of the
red Species

Act, signed into law in 1973 by President Richard Nixon, should be
measured not just by how many species it saved or how much money it cost developers, but by how it changed the
way people think.

Through the
Endangered Species

Act, the Congre
ss recognized that humans are not alone on the planet, that we
cannot survive unless we take a little better care of the creatures that inhabit the planet with us. That may be the
greatest revolution in American thought since President Ulysses S. Grant not
iced the buffalo were gone and
designated Yellowstone the nation's first national park.

Imperfect, but Effective

The act is not perfect, yet diatribes such as Californian congressman Richard Pombo's are counterproductive because
Pombo is intellectually

dishonest. Pombo claims that not "even one species" has been saved by the act, and that any
species that were protected "improved because of actions initiated before the ESA was law or because of actions
taken independently of the ESA by state and local g
overnment, private property owners and private foundations."

Many actions taken by state and local governments and private property owners, such as local habitat conservation
plans, were taken because of requirements of the
Endangered Species

Act. The ac
t was the culmination of more
than a decade of scientific studies that resulted in the ban on [the pesticide] DDT and the rescue of the bald eagle and
peregrine falcon. That DDT was banned before the
Endangered Species

Act was enacted is no argument agains
t the

And if a few species were listed in error or confused with other species in being listed
so what? Pombo is not just
putting the cart before the horse, he would trash the cart and kill the horse.

Enforcement Is Poor

The fact is, local gove
rnments are doing a poor job enforcing the act. Illegal grading is regularly carried out in local
business parks and housing tracts, and seldom does a government entity, local or federal, take steps to stop it. The
reason is simple: The few qualified monit
ors of paleontological, cultural and biological resources are the ones qualified
to report violators, and they cannot do so at risk of being effectively blacklisted from working again at their profession.

I know a biological monitor who has filed complai
nts against illegal graders, and who then, reluctantly, declined to file
when a violator broke the law again at a new site. You simply cannot do business by suing your employers. Yet with
the lax enforcement from municipal, county and state officers, and t
he grievously underfunded enforcement arm of
federal wildlife monitors, private professionals are asked to cut their own throats by helping to enforce federal laws that
no one else seems interested in enforcing.

Endangered Species

Act was a domestic
arm of the Convention on International Trade in
, or CITES, a global effort to preserve the flora and fauna of our planet. International cooperation, through
CITES, led to the U.S. Wild Bird Conservation Act of 1995, which banned the impo
rtation of parrots into the United
a major step in preserving the species in the wild.

Success Is Hard to Measure

The Puerto Rican parrot was saved from extinction after a lengthy, multifaceted effort that included scientific studies in
the wil
d, habitat protection, nest
building and a nationwide education campaign. Preservation and extinction of species
is a complicated event, and Pombo is facile in suggesting that the ESA is worthless because its defenders cannot
prove a direct link to the pre
servation of species in less than a generation

although the Puerto Rican parrot is one
such example.

Consider the jimson weed, a plant native to Southern California, also known as datura, or

by the local
Indians. A few local teen
agers are ho
spitalized every few years after eating the seeds of the plant, which can cause
illness or death, and also have hallucinogenic properties. The plant was revered by local Indians because of its vision
inducing properties, and its use was strictly supervised

by elders and holy men of the tribes.

The datura is fertilized by a moth, which also evolved locally. Kill all the jimson weed, and the moths will die. Kill all th
moths, and the datura will die. It's a complex, momentous process, and one often jeered
at by politicians of Pombo's
persuasion, who sneer at efforts to protect a fly, or a mole, or a fish.

The ESA Encourages Science

Endangered Species

Act was a catalyst in encouraging international whaling laws, and in spurring scientific
studies of
the world's fisheries, which are rapidly being exhausted. The codfish industry of New England is in terrible
shape, and Mexican shrimpers say the younger generation of shrimpers is decimating the shrimp population of the
Gulf of California by overfishing b
aby shrimp near the mouth of the Colorado River.

Endangered Species

Act was based on hard science, and continues to encourage science around the world.
Efforts to save the spotted owl helped save the Northwest rain forest, which helped preserve the b
ark of the Pacific
yew tree, from which scientists extract tamoxifen, a potent anticancer drug. Despite the recent explosion of bio
firms, the vast majority of disease
fighting medicines still come from natural sources, as do 100 percent of the flavor
of all the foods we eat.

Endangered Species

Act is not perfect. But disingenuous efforts to torpedo it ... do a disservice to those who
would strive to make the act better, and with it, to preserve the precious natural heritage of the only planet w
e will ever

Embryonic Stem Cell Research Is Ethical

Michael D. West

Michael D. West is president, chairman, and CEO of Advanced Cell Technology, Inc., a biotechnology company
developing potential medical applications of

nuclear transfer (cloning) and embryonic stem cell technologies. He is the
author of

The Immortal Cell,
and coeditor of

Principles of Cloning.
West has written extensively for scientific journals
and holds dozens of patents relating to genomics. He founde
d the Geron Corporation in Menlo Park, California, in
1990. He served as director and vice president until 1998, managing programs for human embryonic stem cell
research. He is also the founder and former chairman of Origen Therapeutics, Inc., a privately
held biotechnology
company in Burlingame, California

Source Database:

At Issue: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

One must understand the facts about human reproduction and embryonic stem (ES) cells to make informed ethical
decisions about the use of E
S cells in medical applications. Scientific evidence establishes decisively that individual
human life does not begin until fourteen days after fertilization. Researchers use the human embryonic
stem cells

develop before human life begins. The stem ce
ll technologies they are developing could solve many medical
dilemmas, including the problem of tissue compatibility. Therapeutic cloning would allow scientists to grow new tissue
identical to that of the patient, preventing transplant rejection and result
ing in fewer complications. The lifesaving
potential of stem cell technology is enormous. It is society's moral duty to use the gifts of stem cell research to help
people overcome disease.


Editor's Note: This selection is Michael D. West's testimony

before the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee,
Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee on July 18, 2001, regarding embryonic stem cell
and nuclear transfer technologies

I am pleased to testify today in regard to the new opportuni
ties and challenges associated with human embryonic
stem (ES) cell and nuclear transfer (NT) [cloning] technologies. I will begin by describing the bright promise of these
twin and interrelated technologies and then attempt to correct some misunderstanding
s relating to their application in

It may be useful to point out that I think of myself as pro
life in that I have an enormous respect for the value of the
individual human life. Indeed, in my years following college I joined others in the prot
est of abortion clinics. My goal
was not to send a message to women that they did not have the right to choose. My intent was simply to urge them to
reconsider the destruction of a developing human being. Despite my strong convictions about the value of th
individual human life, in 1995 I organized the collaboration between [biopharmaceutical] Geron Corporation and the
laboratories of Drs. James Thomson and John Gearhart [both holders of U.S.
approved patents for human embryonic
stem cell lines] to isolate

stem cells

and human embryonic germ cells from human embryos and fetuses
respectively. My reasons were simple. These technologies are entirely designed to be used in medicine to alleviate
human suffering and to save human life. They are, in fact
, pro
life. The opponents that argue they destroy human lives
are simply and tragically mistaken. Let me explain why this is the case.

When human life begins

We are composed of trillions of individual living cells, glued together like the bricks of a b
uilding to construct the
organs and tissues of our body. The cells in our bodies are called "somatic cells" to distinguish them from the "germ
line", that is, the reproductive cells that connect the generations. We now know that life evolved from such sing
organisms that dominated all life some one billion years ago.

Therefore, in answer to the question of when life begins, we must make a crucial distinction. Biological life, that is to
say, "cellular life" has no recent beginnings. Our cells are
, in fact, the descendents of cells that trace their beginnings
to the origin of life on earth. However, when we speak of an individual human life, we are speaking of the communal
life of a multicellular organism springing from the reproductive lineage of
cells. The individual human life is a body
composed of cells committed to somatic cell lineages. All somatic cells are related in that they originate from an
original cell formed from the union of a sperm and egg cell.

The fertilization of the egg cell b
y a sperm leads to a single cell called the "zygote". From this first cell, multiple rounds
of cell division over the first week result in a microscopic ball of cells with very unusual properties. This early embryo,
called the "preimplantation embryo", has

not implanted in the uterus to begin a pregnancy. It is estimated that
approximately 40% of preimplantation embryos formed following normal human sexual reproduction fail to attach to the
uterus and are naturally destroyed as a result.

At the blastocyst

stage of the preimplantation embryo, no body cells of any type have formed, and even more
significantly, there is strong evidence that not even the earliest of events in the chain of events in somatic
differentiation1 have been initiated. A simple way of
demonstrating this is by observing subsequent events.

Should the embryo implant in the uterus, the embryo, at approximately 14 days post fertilization will form what is
called the primitive streak, this is the first definition that these "seed" cells wil
l form an individual human being as
opposed to the forming of two primitive streaks leading to identical twins. Rarely two primitive streaks form that are not
completely separated leading to conjoined or Siamese twins. In addition, rarely, two separately f
ertilized egg cells fuse
together to form a single embryo with two different cell types. This natural event leads to a tetragammetic chimera, that
is a single human individual with some of the cells in their body being male from the original male embryo, a
nd some
cells being female from the original female embryo. These and other simple lessons in embryology teach us that
despite the dogmatic assertions of some theologians, the evidence is decisive in support of the position that an
individual human life, a
s opposed to merely cellular life, begins with the primitive streak, (i.e. after 14 days of
development). Those who argue that the preimplantation embryo is a person are left with the logical absurdity of
ascribing to the blastocyst personhood when we know
, scientifically speaking, that no individual exists (i.e. the
blastocyst may still form identical twins).

The lifesaving potential of human ES cells

Human ES cells are nothing other than ICM [inner cell mass] cells grown in the laboratory dish. Becaus
e these are
stem cells

uncommitted to any body cell lineage, they may greatly improve the availability of diverse cell types
urgently needed in medicine. Human ES cells are unique in that they stand near the base of the developmental tree.
These cells

are frequently designated "totipotent"
stem cells
, meaning that they are potentially capable of forming any
cell or tissue type needed in medicine. These differ from adult
stem cells

that are "pluripotent" that is, capable of
forming several, but only a l
imited number, of cell types. An example of pluripotent adult
stem cells

are the bone
stem cells

now widely used in the treatment of cancer and other life
threatening diseases.

Some have voiced objection to the use of human ES cells in medicine ow
ing to the source of the cells. Whereas the
use of these new technologies has already been carefully debated and approved in the United Kingdom, the United
States lags disgracefully behind. I would like to think it is our goodness and our kindness as a peo
ple that generates
our country's anxieties over these new technologies. Indeed, early in my life I might have argued that since we don't
know when a human life begins, it is best not to tamper with the early embryo. That is to say, it is better to be safe
sorry. I believe many U.S. citizens share this initial reaction. But, with time the facts of human embryology and cell
biology will be more widely understood. As the Apostle Paul said: "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood
as a child,
I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." (I Cor 13:11) In the same way it
is absolutely a matter of life and death that policy makers in the United States carefully study the facts of human
embryology and
stem cells
. A ch
ild's understanding of human reproduction simply will not suffice and such ignorance
could lead to disastrous consequences.

With appropriate funding of research, we may soon learn to direct these cells to become vehicles of lifesaving
potential. We may,
for instance, become able to produce neurons for the treatment of Parkinson's disease and spinal
cord injury, heart muscle cells for heart failure, cartilage for arthritis and many others as well. This research has great
potential to help solve the first p
roblem of tissue availability, but the technologies to direct these cells to become
various cell types in adequate quantities remains to be elucidated. Because literally hundreds of cell types are needed,
thousands of academic research projects need to be
funded, far exceeding the resources of the biotechnology

As promising as ES cell technology may seem, it does not solve the remaining problem of histocompatibility [tissue
compatibility to allow grafting]. Human ES cells obtained from embryos d
erived during in vitro fertilization procedures,
or from fetal sources, are essentially cells from another individual....

Therapeutic cloning solves the problem of cell compatibility

An extremely promising solution to this remaining problem of histocom
patibility would be to create human ES cells
genetically identical to the patient. While no ES cells are known to exist in a developed human being and are therefore
not available as a source for therapy, such cells could possibly be obtained through the pr
ocedure of somatic cell
nuclear transfer (NT), otherwise known as cloning technology. In this procedure, body cells from a patient would be
fused with an egg cell that has had its nuclear DNA removed. This would theoretically allow the production of a
staged embryo genetically identical to the patient that could, in turn, lead to the production of ES cells
identical to the patient. In addition, published data suggests that the procedure of NT can "rejuvenate" an aged cell
restoring the proliferat
ive capacity inherent in cells at the beginning of life. This could lead to cellular therapies with an
unprecedented opportunity to improve the quality of life for an aging population.

The use of somatic cell nuclear transfer for the purposes of dediffer
entiating a patient's cells and obtain autologous
stem cells

has been designated "Therapeutic Cloning" or alternatively, "Cell Replacement by Nuclear
Transfer". This terminology is used to differentiate this clinical indication from the us
e of NT for the cloning of a child
that in turn is designated "Reproductive Cloning". In the United Kingdom, the use of NT for therapeutic cloning has
been carefully studied by their Embryology Authority and formally approved by the Parliament.

Ethical c

Ethical debates often center over two separate lines of reasoning. Deontological debates are, by nature, focused on
our duty to God or our fellow human being. Teleological arguments focus on the question of whether the ends justify
the mean
s. Most scholars agree that human ES cell technology and therapeutic cloning offer great pragmatic merit,
that is, the teleological arguments in favor of ES and NT technologies are quite strong. The lack of agreement, instead,
centers on the deontological
arguments relating to the rights of the blastocyst embryo and our duty to protect the
individual human life.

I would argue that the lack of consensus is driven by a lack of widespread knowledge of the facts regarding the origins
of human life on a cellul
ar level and human life on a somatic and individual level. So the question of when does life
begin, is better phrased "when does an individual human life begin." Some dogmatic individuals claim with the same
certainty the Church opposed Galileo's claim tha
t the earth is not the center of the universe, that an individual human
life begins with the fertilization of the egg cell by the sperm cell. This is superstition, not science. The belief that an
individual human being begins with the fertilization of the
egg cell by the sperm cell is without basis in scientific fact or,
for that matter, without basis in religious tradition.

All strategies to source human cells for the purposes of transplantation have their own unique ethical problems.
Because developing
embryonic and fetal cells and tissues are "young" and are still in the process of forming mature
tissues, there has been considerable interest in obtaining these tissues for use in human medicine. However, the use
of aborted embryo or fetal tissue raises n
umerous issues ranging from concerns over increasing the frequency of
elected abortion to simple issues of maintaining quality controls standards in this hypothetical industry. Similarly,
obtaining cells and tissues from living donors or cadavers is also n
ot without ethical issues. For instance, an important
question is, "Is it morally acceptable to keep "deceased" individuals on life support for long periods of time in order to
harvest organs as they are needed?"

The implementation of ES
based technologi
es could address some of the ethical problems described above. First, it is
important to note that the production of large numbers of human ES cells would not in itself cause these same
concerns in accessing human embryonic or fetal tissue, since the resul
ting cells have the potential to be grown for very
long periods of time. Using only a limited number of human embryos not used during in vitro fertilization procedures,
could supply many millions of patients if the problem of histocompatibility could be re
solved. Second, in the case of NT
procedures, the patient may be at lower risk of complications in transplant rejection. Third, the only human cells used
would be from the patient. Theoretically, the need to access tissue from other human beings could be r

Sin by omission

Having knowledge of a means to dramatically improve the delivery of health care places a heavy burden on the
shoulders of those who would actively impede ES and NT technology. The emphasis on the moral error of sin by
omission i
s widely reflected in Western tradition traceable to Biblical tradition. In Matthew chapter 25 we are told of the
parable of the master who leaves talents of gold with his servants. One servant, for fear of making a mistake with what
was given him, buries
the talent in the ground. This servant, labeled "wicked and slothful" in the Bible, reminds us, that
simple inaction, when we have been given a valuable asset, is not just a lack of doing good, but is in reality evil. There
are times that it is not better
to be safe than sorry.

Historically, the United States has a proud history of leading the free world in the bold exploration of new technologies.
We did not hesitate to apply our best minds in an effort to allow a man to touch the moon. We were not paral
yzed by
the fear that like the tower of Babel, we were reaching for the heavens. But a far greater challenge stands before us.
We have been given two talents of gold. The first, the human embryonic stem cell, the second, nuclear transfer
technology. Shall
we, like the good steward, take these gifts to mankind and courageously use them to the best of our
abilities to alleviate the suffering of our fellow human being, or will we fail most miserably and bury these gifts in the
earth? This truly is a matter of
life and death. I urge you to stand courageously in favor of existing human life. The
alternative is to inherit the wind.


1. in which the cells begin to form the various parts of the body

Embryonic Stem Cell Research is Unethical

Source Dat

At Issue: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Embryonic stem cell research uses cells from the embryo's inner cell mass that give rise to each of the human body's
many different tissue types. Supporters of stem cell research usually make one of two m
ajor arguments. First, they
make a utilitarian argument that sacrificing a few embryos to use their
stem cells

for research is justified because the
medical applications will help many suffering people. Second, supporters argue that the virtue of compassio
n for those
who could benefit from stem cell research overrides any other ethical considerations about its use. Utilitarianism and
appeals to compassion, so prominent in contemporary American culture, are dangerous. Instead of following God's
directives, h
umans are relying on their subjective and emotional responses to make important decisions about stem
cell research.

In the midst of the debate over using embryonic
stem cells

in research, a more fundamental issue has often been
overlooked. It is a realit
y that will not only affect the outcome of this debate, but of numerous moral quandaries in the
days ahead. It is the issue of our moral culture
that is, how we think about and seek to resolve moral issues. Our
moral culture is ultimately more significant

than is a given moral issue because it directly influences the decisions that
are made regarding all such issues. It serves as the lens through which we understand much of life and our sense of
goodness, justice and the morally right. It impacts not only
individuals' thinking, but the larger cultural ethos and its
perspectives on a myriad of moral issues.

If we listen closely to the moral discourse arguing that embryonic
stem cells

should be employed in medical research,
we get a glimpse into the prevail
ing moral culture of our time. At its heart is a utilitarian calculus, combined with an
unlimited emphasis on the virtue of compassion and undergirded by a worldview of what we might call "spiritualistic

Utilitarian philosophy

In addition
to being a conscious commitment of certain ethicists, utilitarianism is also a subconscious commitment of
the masses and a powerful moral impetus that will likely shape thinking and action for years to come. Utilitarianism
emerged in the nineteenth century

as an attempt to establish the field of ethics as a scientific exercise distinct from
religion or any worldview commitments. Contrasting their ethical system with the prevailing "principle ethics" of the day,
[utilitarian philosophers] like Jeremy Bentham

and John Stuart Mill argued that the foundation for ethics was
consequences of a particular kind: namely, the greatest good (defined as happiness or pleasure) for the greatest
number of people. In this formulation, ethics could actually be quantified and
freed from dependence on any prior
commitment to ethical norms (such as love, justice, or human dignity) or metaphysical outlooks, including religious
ones. Here was an ethic for the entire society that could unite all peoples, whatever their religious or

Supporters of stem cell research invoke utilitarianism

When we look at the arguments supporting the use of embryonic
stem cells
, they invariably incorporate utilitarian
sentiments. Using both sophisticated and populist argumentat
ion, proponents contend that the end result of sacrificing
embryos to harvest their
stem cells

would be so overwhelmingly positive for a large number of suffering people that it
must be the right thing to do. The moral calculus points to the alleged potent
ial good of treating or healing illnesses
such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, or diabetes. According to a commonly
heard argument, without the
use of embryonic
stem cells

critical research cannot move forward, and the amelioration of human su
ffering and the
saving of lives will be thwarted. The end goal of healing justifies the destruction of human embryos to procure
. Healing is regarded as the "greatest good" which will usher in the most happiness or pleasure for the greatest
r of people. Therefore, it should be pursued at the expense of embryonic life.

At the popular level the utilitarian argument is evident in the following statement by a 41
old man who has fought
diabetes for 23 years: "It seems to me that it's an eas
y choice to make
take a shot at saving lives and making life
easier for people." The utilitarian calculus is at the heart of a letter from the Association of American Medical Colleges
(AAMC) to President Bush. While acknowledging that some people consider

embryonic stem cell research to be wrong
because of the ethical issues it raises, the AAMC states, "We are persuaded otherwise by what we believe is an
equally compelling ethical consideration, namely that it would be tragic to waste the unique potential
afforded by
stem cells
, destined to be discarded in any case, to alleviate human suffering and enhance the quality of

Critical objections to utilitarianism

Utilitarianism, however, has always faced some critical problems and objections
. First, it is not at all evident why
human happiness or pleasure for the greatest number of people should be regarded as the defining end of moral
action. Utilitarianism purports to rely upon an amoral criterion in weighing the consequences of human actio
n, but
happiness is hardly an amoral criterion. Second, this approach to ethics argues that the sought end (happiness or
pleasure for the greatest number of people) justifies the means of achieving that end. The problem with this is that
some means to obta
ining this goal are clearly morally suspect. In the late 18th century, [scholar] Thomas Malthus
justified the dying off of large numbers of poor and hungry people for the good end of curbing population growth.
Utilitarians assume that no means are problema
tic as long as the end result justifies them. And third, utilitarianism has
to make some difficult factual judgments when it comes to calculating the greatest good for the greatest number. It
assumes an objectivity in making this assessment. With regard to

embryonic stem cell research, it assumes that
stem cells

will prove to have significant therapeutic value; however, this is still only a projection (though not
without some warrant given the animal research done thus far). Also of interest is th
e fact that proponents tend to
downplay the potential of adult
stem cells
, which have already proven to be therapeutic in clinical trials. This should
tell us something about the objectivity (or lack thereof) of weighing consequences.

The virtue of compa

The second major approach to defending the use of human embryos for harvesting
stem cells

extols the virtue of
compassion. Virtue ethics tends to focus less on moral actions and more on internal moral dispositions or character,
from which actions n
aturally flow. For a number of ethical issues today (e.g., abortion, physician
assisted suicide, and
homosexuality), compassion as a virtue has become the moral trump card. It is heralded as the virtue above all virtues,
for to subjugate compassion to any
other moral claim is to exhibit an insensitivity toward and a lack of empathy for

With regard to embryonic stem cell research, the public campaign for federal funding was carried primarily by actors
such as Christopher Reeve and Michael J. Fox, w
ho utilized media blitzes to appeal to people's passions. Seeing
Reeve in his wheelchair hardly evoked solid ethical reflection, but instead moved the masses to feel compassion for
him. A letter [appearing in the
Washington Post

on February 21, 2001,] to P
resident Bush, signed by a group of Nobel
Laureates urging funding for research with human embryos, exalted the virtue of compassion over all other values.
While it "recognized the legitimate ethical issues raised by this research," it also asserted that "
it would be tragic to
waste this opportunity to pursue the work that could potentially alleviate human suffering." Alleviating human suffering
strikes a chord in American culture, for in this "happiness
oriented land" we seek above all else to wipe away pa
in and
discomfort. Thus, as one scientist put it, it really is quite simple to decide whether to protect a "mass of cells in a dish"

or to protect a "43
old father of two."

Ethics cannot be built on emotions

While appeals to compassion are becomin
g increasingly common in public debate, regarding compassion as the
moral trump card is problematic. [In his book,
Begotton or Made
, professor] Oliver O'Donovan of Oxford University
rightly reminds us that the virtue of compassion can never stand alone. "C
ompassion is the virtue of being moved to
action by the sight of suffering.... It is a virtue that circumvents thought, since it prompts us immediately to action. It i
s a
virtue that presupposes that an answer has already been found to the question, 'What
needs to be done?'" The appeal
to compassion overlooks divine givens in which there are inherent meaning and worth within the created realities of
this world. Compassion, conversely, brings its own meaning to the suffering situation in such a way that all
becomes secondary, for it appeals primarily to our emotions. [The Greek philosopher] Socrates was certainly right
when he warned us that ethics cannot be built on emotions
not because they are unimportant, but because they alone
cannot be trusted to
discover the human right and good within the perils of human finitude and fallenness.

In the final analysis, compassion as the moral trump card is one more example of how our culture seeks to determine
what is right, good and just on the basis of what wi
ll secure self
enhancement or self
actualization. Of course,
compassion should indeed be reflected in the habits and actions of all persons. We can never be indifferent to human
need and must in fact seek ethically legitimate solutions to disease and suffe
ring. However, when set apart from the
moral givens of a loving, gracious Creator, compassion will lead us to the abyss of moral nihilism.

Spiritualistic naturalism: an American worldview

Underlying all moral principles and virtues is a larger narrativ
e or worldview. Humans never develop their ethical
norms in a vacuum, but always in relation to their understandings of transcendence and human nature, perspectives
on what is fundamentally wrong in the world, beliefs about how that wrong should be rectifi
ed (i.e., salvation), and
perceptions of the course of human history. How we put "our world" together invariably determines which moral
principles or virtues we espouse and which ones we reject.

In contemporary American culture, we seem increasingly to b
e reflecting a worldview that might be termed
"spiritualistic naturalism." Though institutional religion may be on the decline, spirituality seems to be flourishing.
Indeed many people today say they are not religious, but are deeply spiritual. However, th
eir spirituality is often not
grounded in a strong sense of transcendence and divine givens. Rather, it is, as sociologist Robert Wuthnow puts it, "a
new spirituality of seeking ... [in which people] increasingly negotiate among competing glimpses of the s
seeking partial knowledge and practical wisdom." In their search for fleeting moments of sacred encounter, today's
spiritualists tend toward a fragmented worldview which bears little resemblance to classical supernaturalism
holds that God not

only created the world, but provided meaning, significance and content to it. There is in the classical
theistic worldview a sense that God has spoken and that we must therefore respond by seeking life's full meaning and
the morally good.

In contrast, s
piritualistic naturalism functions without recourse to moral and worldview givens, seeking instead
experiences that engender a sense of spirituality with minimal content, essence, and direction. In spiritualistic
naturalism, meaning is self
made and moral
direction is derived from within a self that defines the good, the right, and
the just. Subjectivity takes the place of providential design and direction. It is a naturalism in that functional
transcendence plays no meaningful role in the moral direction o
f people's lives, but it is a spiritualism in that spiritual
experiences that evoke a sense that people are not alone in this world
and that enhance their selfhood and
compassion for others
are sought. Utilitarianism flows from the naturalistic side of t
his worldview and compassion
from its spiritualistic side.

Thus, in the moral discourse about embryonic
stem cells

the utilitarian calculus and the virtue of compassion emerge
out of this particular worldview. The well
being of human embryos has for many

taken a backseat to the greatest
happiness of the whole, precisely because of an ethos that minimizes inherent meaning in life and the existence of
given directives. Compassion has become the moral trump card because it is an emotional response that r
the "fleeting moments" spirituality of our time.

Western worldview often renders moral issues amoral

Spiritualistic naturalism may well be the emerging worldview of Western culture. Unlike old naturalisms it seeks a
spiritual ethos, albeit one
in which God is functionally absent in the formation of moral character and the adjudication of
moral decisions. Because of its spirituality, this form of naturalism tends to blind us to its true reality
a worldview in
which the human subject reigns supre
me and becomes the ultimate arbiter of the good, the just, and the right. It is this
worldview which tends to render moral issues amoral, as when Panayiotis Zavos, the aspiring cloner, told

magazine [February 19, 2001], "Ethics is a wonderful word, bu
t we need to look beyond the ethical issues here [with
regard to cloning]. It's not an ethical issue. It's a medical issue. We have a duty here. Some people need this to
complete the life cycle, to reproduce." Similar sentiments have led the masses of our
culture to embrace the use of
stem cells

for the greater good
out of a sense of compassion
precisely because there are no perceived
providential renderings to order our lives.

This is the ethos in which we now find ourselves. We must recogniz
e it for what it is and bear witness to a better way.

Source Citation:

"Embryonic Stem Cell Research Is Not Ethical" by Dennis P. Hollinger.
The Ethics of Genetic
. Maurya Siedler, Ed. At Issue Series. Greenhaven Press, 2005. Dennis P. Holling
er, "Stem Cells & Our
Moral Culture,", November 15, 2001. Copyright © 2001 by The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity.
Permission to reprint granted by The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity.

Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Thomso
n Gale. 19 April 2005