Science is progressing at a rapid pace. We have learned more in the last 50 years than in the previous 500. But don’t you think science goes too far sometimes?
For example, research on primates sometimes seems to cross the boundary of ethical and unethical. Doctor Robert White, from Cleveland Ohio, transplanted a monkey's head onto another monkey's body. Amazingly, the monkey survived after the operation!
Doctor White claims that he may be able to do human body transplants in the future. This could be used to help paralyzed people who have diseased bodies but healthy brains.
But many critics claim that this was just ‘grotesque’ and are worried about people creating Frankenstein monsters in the future.
In another experiment on monkeys by different researchers, computer chips were implanted into the brains of monkeys. These chips were able to send signals by remote control. After some time, the monkeys were able to play computer games using only their minds.
But some animal rights groups feel that this is cruel and inhumane treatment. They call this research unethical and want it banned.
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Some scientists argue that genetically modified organisms can be a great benefit for humans: These scientists claim GM foods can help feed starving countries. But how about GM pets? Isn’t that going too far?
One company from Taiwan wants to market glow-in-the-dark fish. To make their fish glow in the dark, the company transplanted a jellyfish fish gene into a zebra fish. The fish shine a yellow-green color.
In spite of criticism, the company claims that there is no need to worry. The fish are sterile so they cannot have babies and escape into the environment. As well, the gene is naturally occurring in jellyfish and it is harmless.
But one American state has already banned them. In 2003, California prohibited the sale of ornamental genetically modified fish. Californians are worried about the environmental impact of the fish if some of them escape into California waters. They are also concerned about the health impacts if some of these fish are consumed by children or pets.
Other people worry about the precedent these fish are setting. Glow-in-the-dark fish may be OK, but what’s next. People worry there will be a flood of ‘grotesque’ new pets if the fish are allowed to be sold.