QUESTION #3 Transgenic organisms are members of one species that receive genetic information from another species. We commonly add genetic information into bacteria, plants and other animals. List at least three (3) benefits of "transgenic" organisms. (15 points)
Directions for Part II.
In this country, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees the procedures involved in the development of new drugs. If a new chemical compound shows promise in laboratory tests using cell cultures, it is then sent on to be tested with animals. Animals are chosen that are susceptible to the disease the chemical is designed to cure. Animals are infected with the disease organisms or viruses. Control animals are given a blank treatment while experimental animals are given the chemical to be tested. Cases are matched so that control animals are compared to experimental animals who have received the treatment. Usually, a group of animals who are not ill are also administered the drug to determine possible side effects. These animals may receive a range of dosages (including some very high dosages).
The chemistry of the drug must be determined since it is not enough to know that something works. You must also have a good idea as to why it works; what is its mechanism of action. If the test results satisfy the FDA, limited testing on humans may be approved, usually in the form of double blind testing. A group of people who are infected with the disease are divided into control and experimental groups. The test is set up so that no one in contact with the patients or the participating physicians knows who is getting the drug and who is getting the placebo. If these tests have satisfactory outcomes, the drug may be licensed. Several years may have elapsed at this point. The drug patent is given to the developing company, usually for seven years. After this time the patent lapses and other companies may now produce the drug (so-called generic drugs).
QUESTION #5 In the case of terminal diseases, should final testing still involve people acting as controls, receiving placebos instead of the experimental drug? This is NOT being done in the testing of drugs against HIV. That is, no individuals are given placebos. (15 points)
Animals are used in many ways in biology, medicine and industry. Many organizations such as PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, say that humans do not have a right to exploit other species. Some of these organizations have destroyed research data and facilities to make their point.
QUESTION #6 Genetic engineering is making it possible to introduce new genes into organisms more complicated than bacteria, including food animals and plants. Recently non-spoiling tomatoes have been in the news, tobacco plants are being turned into antibody producing cells and cows have already been implanted with genes from other species to make them grow faster and leaner or be resistant to diseases. Elsewhere, goats, rabbits, and mice are being made into living drug factories, secreting medicines in their milk. Mice are also being altered so that they can support human diseases and conditions, such as human breast cancer, that normally mice can't get. The mice can then be used for research into these conditions. The January 30, 2001 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports that a newly mutated gene in mice may help discover the cause of lupus in humans.
What do you think of these applications? How do you feel about the use of animals as living laboratories of human products or organs for transplantation? (15 points)
As Americans colonized the length and breadth of this country we have had a dramatic effect on the environment. We killed many of the animals, decimated the native Indian populations and changed large expanses of land. The Great Plains and areas of California were legitimate deserts before we introduced irrigation to the areas. To maintain these areas we are depleting our water resources: California is draining the rivers of the western Rocky Mountains while the Great Plains are sucking dry a huge supply of underground water. Meanwhile, we bring pressure on countries in South America and Africa as they try to convert their rainforests into farm lands. The rain forests are some of the richest and most diverse biological systems in the world, with literally millions of species of plants and animals which may not survive the exploitation. Unfortunately the abundant rainfall leaches minerals from the soil rendering it unusable for farming unless large amounts of fertilizers are used. There is also evidence that we may need all of those plants to sustain the current oxygen levels in the Earth's atmosphere.
Recent predictions (October 2002) by Duke University engineers suggest that if destruction of the rainforests persists, it could cause a reduction in rainfall in the Midwest and Dakotas during the summer. The midwest triangle area of Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Missouri also could be affected.
QUESTION #7 Do we have the right to insist that the countries of South America and Africa leave their resources alone? (10 points)
Science uses a process which generates large amounts of data and, based on the questions asked, knowledge. This knowledge in turn leads to new questions which need answers. These data, knowledge and questions can be converted by technology into numerous products and processes. Such conversion and its direction are both influenced and limited by society. In the case of new genetic information and knowledge becoming available there is an additional need for legislative safeguards, rules and principles to ensure the privacy and confidentiality of this personal information. You have been appointed to a citizen advisory committee of the Department of Health and Human Services of the Congress. Your role is to provide ideas to our congressional leaders as to what safeguards would need to be built into any new legislative initiative or bill called the Genetics Privacy Act .
QUESTION #8 List or indicate in some concise way at least 4 different safeguards, rules or principles that should be included in any new legislative effort regarding availability of an individual’s genetic information. (10 points)
Many of the products produced through genetic engineering could vastly improve agriculture in the Third World. However, some of these products could ultimately rob thousands of tropical farmers their livelihoods and cost Third World countries millions of dollars in agricultural exports. For example, a vanilla extract made in cell culture by a California company would cost one fifth as much as the vanilla bean extract sold by Madagascar, one of the poorest countries in the world. Vanilla bean extract is the major industry in Madagascar. There is no other industry in Madagascar that supports more than 2% of the population.
QUESTION #9 What could be done about this situation so that each group would benefit? (10 points)
Information on condom use, the relation between abortion and breast cancer and ways to reduce sex among teenagesrs has been removed from government websites. Representative Christopher H. Smith, co-chairman of the House Pro-Life Caucus, wrote a letter to then Secretary Tommy Thompson of the Department of Health and Human Services calling research cited by the National Cancer Institute “scientifically inaccurate and misleading to the public.” This led to the removal of information about breast cancer. Reasons for the removal of information in all of the areas were cited as coming from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the National Institutes of Health without any urging from the Department of HHS. CDC officials said it was a joint decision by CDC and the Department of HHS. The Department spokesperson says this is incorrect.
The Department of HHS has previously been accused of subverting science to politics by purging advisory committees and choosing scientific experts with views on occupational health favorable to industry. The CDC website had also published information about intervention programs designed to discourage teenage sexual activity. Some mentioned abstinence, one mentioned condoms. A CDC spokesman said the information was removed in June because some “communities and schools did not adopt packaged interventions, because some parts were disliked, or parts and were liked and others disliked. “
QUESTION #10 It seems that the government, while it may have the legal right has adopted a practice of censoring medical information in order to promote a philosophy of sexual abstinence. If that is the case, then decisions are being driven by ideology and not science. This would seem to be particularly true of those who want to stop sex education. It appears that those who want to urge abstinence-only as a policy, whether it is effective or not, don’t want to suggest that other programs may also work. How do you feel about the issue and who is or should be responsible for providing these types of information? (15 points)