- international -
|INFO/ Human Genetic Alert/
November 08, 2001
This is a daily news clipping service from Human Genetics
The articles selected do not represent HGA's policies
but are provided for
To Subscribe / Unsubscribe to HGA's News clipping service,
contact us via
e-mail on mailto:email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>
'Subscribe plus' in the subject field for daily updates
'Weekly plus' for weekly updates.
'Unsubscribe' to be taken off our mailing list.
1. Biologists Warned to Exercise Greater Vigilance
2. Surgical Strike Is a group that pays addicts to be
defending children or exploiting the
3. Britain to Reject Clone Application
4. Iceland's deCODE finds 350 genes linked to disease
Biologists Warned to Exercise Greater Vigilance
International Herald Tribune Wednesday, November
A scientific adviser to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
Tuesday they should become less naive to prevent the
risk of their work
being abused for terrorist purposes.
"Our colleagues in the physics community have long understood
application of physics in weaponry," George Poste said
in an interview
during a pharmaceutical conference.
Mr. Poste, a member of the U.S. Defense Science Board
of scientists and
industrialists, which advises Mr. Rumsfeld on scientific
biology should "lose its innocence."
"Biologists have got to start being a little more savvy
with regard to
thinking about less well-intentioned individuals than
themselves," he said.
"I don't think that the biological community, particularly
in academia, is
yet sensitized enough to thinking about the implications."
Mr. Poste warned that in many instances there was an
among biologists working in academia regarding the potential
adverse use of
some of the work being done.
Mr. Poste, chief executive officer of the consulting
firm Health Technology
Networks and former head of research at SmithKline Beecham,
clandestine activity in biology was more difficult for
than detecting attempts to develop nuclear weapons.
Illustrating biology's potential for both good and evil,
he explained how
Australian scientists trying to develop a contraceptive
vaccine for rodents
had inadvertently created a lethal "mousepox" virus using
could be applied to biological warfare.
The experiment, reported earlier this year by pest control
Canberra, involved modifying a mousepox virus to include
the gene for
interleukin-4, which affects the immune system. Mr. Poste
well-intentioned research project completely shut down
the immune system,
allowing the virus to "run amok."
"This immediately raises the issue of the same being
put into other viruses,
and particularly whether that would create a devastating
weapon," he said.
Mr. Poste said that the publication of the research findings
in the February
issue of the Journal of Virology raised the next issue
as to how far certain
categories of biological information may eventually have
to be classified.
Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/magazine/ND01/surgical.html
Surgical Strike Is a group that pays addicts to be
children or exploiting the vulnerable?
by Barry Yeoman November/December 2001
After taking in four children born to a drug addict, Barbara
Barbara Harris was eager to become a foster mother when
she received a call
from a social worker in 1990, asking her to take in an
born to a woman addicted to crack cocaine. Harris, a
waitress at a pancake
house, agreed. Over the next two years, she and her husband
foster home in Orange County, California, for three more
children born to
the same woman, including one boy who suffered violently
from his mother's
addiction. "He shook," Harris recalls. "His eyes looked
like they would pop
out of his head. He'd sleep a few minutes and he'd wake
Harris decided something needed to be done to prevent
from getting pregnant. So in 1997 she sat down at her
created some flyers, and posted them in the impoverished
neighborhood of Los Angeles. That was the birth of CRACK
A Caring Kommunity), a nonprofit organization that offers
$200 in cash to
addicts who agree to be sterilized or undergo long-term
Norplant, which is surgically imbedded under the skin.
targets the poor, most of the procedures are funded by
federal and state programs such as Medicaid and California's
Now in its fourth year, CRACK is growing rapidly. The
group has chapters in
22 cities across the country, including Seattle, Dallas,
and Chicago, and
has already handed out more than $100,000 in cash rewards
to 500 clients.
"The best is yet to come!" boasts the organization's
Web site. "Every day we
receive phone calls from men and women nationwide that
want to make the
responsible choice." But many advocates for the poor
have attacked the
group, saying it deprives desperate women of their reproductive
while feeding their drug habit. Addicts who agree to
be sterilized, they
say, often use the cash offered by Harris to buy more
drugs. After the group
took out billboard ads in Las Vegas, local NAACP president
Gene Collins told
reporters, "How can you come in and say that you are
concerned with the
welfare of the mother when here's a person who is not
of sound mind, who has
been addicted to drugs, and then is told, 'Okay, we're
going to give you
$200 to become sterile and you can take the money and
buy yourself some more
Social-service providers have also expressed outrage.
"It's a total
exploitation of women who have a substance abuse problem,"
says David LaKine
of Faith House, a St. Louis facility for children suffering
drug exposure. "They will take the $200 because they
have a disease, and
using drugs and being promiscuous are all symptoms of
the disease." Kathryn
Icenhower, director of a Los Angeles group that provides
services to the
homeless, told reporters that she has asked Harris "to
please stay away from
our clients." Offering addicts cash, she added, is like
telling a homeless
person, "I'll let you come in here and sleep tonight
if we sterilize you."
Harris admits her organization might be fueling the addictions
clients-but she is not overly concerned about how women
spend the cash. "If
they choose to use the money to buy drugs, that's their
choice," she says.
"Their babies have no choice. If that sounds cold, that's
too bad." Before
founding CRACK, Harris tried unsuccessfully to convince
legislators to jail mothers of drug-addicted babies unless
they agreed to
implants or other long-term birth control. She recounts
the story of a woman
in Pontiac, Michigan, who had given birth to 13 children
reached her last June. "How many victims does this person
need to have
before she doesn't have the right to have children?"
Harris asks. "The day
she had the tubal ligation, I was in my office cheering."
donors are also cheering. According to Harris, the organization
$320,000, most of it from wealthy conservatives.
Dr. Laura Schlessinger,
the controversial talk-show host, has contributed $10,000.
Scaife, the Pittsburgh billionaire credited with funding
the New Right, has
thrown in $75,000 through his Allegheny Foundation. And
Jim Woodhill, a
Houston venture capitalist and self-proclaimed member
of the "Republican
Rebel Alliance," has given $125,000.
Woodhill makes no secret of his desire to bring in new
leadership to build a
larger, more influential organization. "I'm sure we can
get a good executive
director whose specialty is fundraising and have her
go around and hit up
members of the 'vast right-wing conspiracy,'" he says.
"We can raise the
money." Woodhill has hired Chris Brand, a British psychologist,
working to expand CRACK overseas. Brand, a self-proclaimed
claims that blacks are intellectually inferior to whites,
taking a "eugenic" approach to "wanton and criminal females."
gives chills to opponents. "Limiting reproduction as
a way of solving social
problems has a very horrible history," says Dorothy Roberts,
a law professor
at Northwestern University and author of Killing the
Black Body. "It ends up
targeting people who society feels are unworthy of reproduction."
eugenics movement of the early 20th century, she notes,
systematic sterilization of what it called "worthless
race types," including
the poor and the mentally ill; states adopted laws that
resulted in more
than 40,000 women being sterilized without their consent.
physicians and attorneys worry that the drug-dependent
women approached by
CRACK are in no condition to consent to sterilization-
enticed with an offer of cash. Rewarding someone for
having a surgical
procedure, they note, violates a basic principle of medical
care decisions should be made by patients, without any
form of pressure.
"It's an economic coercion of the poor, giving them a
financial incentive to
forgo their reproductive choices," says Rocio Cordoba,
staff attorney with
the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.
question is whether the woman is undergoing sterilization
informed consent-and that means without coercion."
Wednesday November 7 2:54 PM ET
Britain to Reject Clone Application
LONDON (AP) -
The government said Wednesday it plans to reject an expected
from an Italian fertility doctor who wants to clone babies
Dr. Severino Antinori, who is part of an international
team seeking to
become the first to clone a human being, has said he
intends to apply to
Britain's Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority
for a license to
begin work on cloning babies.
His group says it is pursuing cloning as a treatment
for couples who are
unable to have their own children.
"Worldwide, this is not considered acceptable and it
will remain illegal in
the United Kingdom," junior health minister Hazel Blears
"The government is absolutely clear that reproductive
cloning cannot take
place in the U.K.," she said.
The government insists the creation of babies by cloning
is illegal in
Britain. But an anti-abortion organization has challenged
that view in
court, saying the law applies only to embryos created
by fertilization of an
egg by sperm. The government insists it applies to all
have urged the government to clarify the matter by introducing
explicit cloning ban.
In cloning, scientists remove the genetic material from
egg and replace
it with that of a cell taken from the person being cloned.
egg is then prodded to divide. Classic fertilization
does not take place.
In January, Britain became the first country to specifically
cloning when it tweaked its embryo research laws to allow
cloning only for
research on embryonic stem cells.
Stem cells are the master cells found in embryos that
give rise to all other
cells. Doctors hope they will be able to cure or treat
hundreds of diseases
by directing stem cells to develop into any type of tissue
The stem cells are extracted when the embryo is a few
days old. Scientists
hope that by taking stem cells from embryos created by
cloning a cell from a
sick person, transplants would be a perfect match, eliminating
problem of the immune system rejecting transplants because
they come from
someone else's body.
Wednesday November 7, 3:29 am Eastern Time
Iceland's deCODE finds 350 genes linked to disease
LONDON, Nov 7 (Reuters) -
Iceland's deCODE genetics Inc (NasdaqNM:DCGN - news)
said on Wednesday it
had found a total of 350 genes linked to more than 40
common diseases and
had filed patents on their use as drug targets.
Reykavik-based deCODE is sifting through the medical
records of Iceland's
population, which has changed little in genetic make-up
since the Vikings
arrived in the ninth and 10th centuries, to uncover the
genetic abnormalities and disease.
Like other genomics companies set up in the wake of the
decoding of the
human genome, deCODE bases its research on sophisticated
"The identification of these targets is a resounding
confirmation of the
power of our data-mining tools and of the inherent strengths
population approach and integrated data," said Chief
Patent offices in the United States and Europe have become
about granting gene patents following a "landgrab" for
among some companies.
But Stefansson said he was confident of securing patents
since his firm's
filings included additional information highlighting
pathways by which genes are linked to disease.
DeCODE has a growing
in-house drug discovery programme based on its gene research,
as well as a
wideranging product development agreement with Switzerland's
Shares in deCODE, which floated in July 2000 at $18,
closed on Nasdaq on
Tuesday at $8.32.