A company in Minnesota is currently cooking up a frightening genetic stew.
Recombinetics, a biotech firm based in St. Paul, is moving full steam ahead to start growing human body parts in pigs.
The goal, it says, is to use these organs for people who need transplants. Sharing organs between species (called xenotransplantation), however, is extremely dangerous – especially where pigs are concerned. Pig cells contain a variety of viruses that could trigger cancer, especially leukemia, when transplanted into a person.
But that’s not all Recombinetics has up its test tube.
Because it’s hoping that the feds will give their blessings to the company’s genetically modified farm animals so that they can end up on your dinner table. Should that happen, chances are, you’ll have no idea that what you’re about to eat isn’t natural… but a manmade mutation.
We can no longer afford to simply sit by and just shake our heads at what’s going on. Unless you act right now, things are going to go from bad… to bizarre.
Tinkering with life
A year ago, I told you about an experiment that injected human stem cells, which can grow into any kind of tissue or organ, into pigs.
We were promised that this human/pig chimera wouldn’t be allowed to grow beyond the embryo stage, but from what I’m hearing, it sounds like soon all promissory notes may be off the table.
And if you remember your Greek mythology, there’s a word for what Recombinetics is cooking up: a chimera.
Of course, the company doesn’t want you to picture that mythical monster with a lion’s head on a goat’s body with a snake’s tail. But in this day and age of genetic tinkering, the horror of what they may be creating in the lab isn’t going to be obvious from the outside.
For example, a recent experiment that combined rats and mice took a surprising turn when the live rat/mouse chimeras were born with gallbladders, something rats don’t have. The scientists commented that the mouse “microenvironment” where these creatures developed was able to “unlock” the rat’s hidden potential to make that organ.
So, what other surprises might tinkering with life unlock? Will those pigs growing human stem cells create some half-human creature never before imagined?
Don’t let anyone tell you that the worst can’t happen, because no matter how smart these scientists are, they don’t know any more about what they might create than Dr. Frankenstein did.
Now, you can’t even tell the difference between watching the sci-fi channel and the evening news!
And as I mentioned, Recombinetics has a lot more going on.
It’s also been trying to get genetically modified milk cows (tinkered with to have no horns) and pigs (with no tails) approved by the FDA — but thankfully, the agency has given them a thumbs-down until these animals go through a battery of safety testing.
I never thought I’d be saying this, but score one for the FDA!
The company, however, has developed a work-around for that little problem. Because if there’s any federal agency that kowtows to industry more than the FDA, it’s the USDA! And the plan is to transfer oversight of its gene-altered farm animals to the USDA, something that would require an act of Congress or a presidential decree.
But Recombinetics is already hot on the trail of fixing that, as it’s getting 79 members of the House of Representatives to send a letter whining about how the FDA is treating the company to USDA head Sonny Perdue.
In the meantime, if we just stand by doing nothing, those pigs and cows will be only the beginning of this frightening jump into the realm of “mad science.”
That’s why there’s no time to waste in reaching out and letting your representatives know exactly how you feel about the prospect of having one of these genetically tinkered farm animals land in your supermarket.
You can go to house.gov and click on “representatives” in the top blue bar to find out how to contact yours.
“Farmland gene editors want cows without horns, pigs without tails, and business without regulations” Antonio Regalado, March 12, 2018, Technology Review, technologyreview.com