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Spidergoats 387

LandlessGentry writes: "Market Oriented Genetic Manipulation takes a turn for the surreal as two Nigerian dwarf goats named Mille and Muscade have had their genes altered (or more precisely the genes of their parents) so their mammary glands produce spider "silk". The story is here on Forbes.com."
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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 08, 2001 @05:14PM (#444790)
  • The other method to get insulin also relies on genetic engineering. Some company has inserted the gene that codes for insulin into bacteria and uses them to produce it in big reactor vats. (I can't remember the company name, but they're one of the surviving biotech companies after the biotech market collapsed much as the dot-com market collapsed recently.)
  • It's worse than that. Spider web silk isn't just protein. It also contains various other chemicals that keep it from drying out and make it resistant to attack by fungi and other microbes (after all, it is a good source of protein, right)? For details, see

    http://www.xs4all.nl/~ednieuw/Spiders/InfoNed/we bt hread.html

    (remove the embedded space in 'webthread' -- curse Slashdot's tiny little editor window.)

    The company had better add equivalent protections to their product, or you might find that your spiffy new climbing rope will dry out and fray, or your bullet-proof vest will rot away after the first heavy rain.
  • Given: 1+1=2.
    Prove: Differential calculus.

    Science is about the little steps. How are we supposed to cure cancer when we barely even understand how it works? How are we supposed to colonize space whent he only country with any experience in that area is self-destructing as we speak?

    The ability to arbitrarily insert and remove an animal's genes is an important step towards many important goals, such as the sickle-cell anemia you brought up.

  • Do you really mean that? Because fighting nature doesn't work.

    Trying to run a feedback-based system without natural selection is every bit as idiotic and futile as the US's "War on Drugs" (which attempts to fight economic forces, just as attempts to avoid natural selection fight natural ones).

    The forces which cause natural selection will work, like it or not. Attempts to fight it merely do us harm.
  • So?

    Simply put, this product wouldn't exist at all without the profit whores. Learn to take the bad with the good -- or go make your own modified foods.

    If you want to use only products made by people whose intentions are good and pure, you do that. Maybe you'll starve in the process, but damned if I care.
  • If I lived in an area with known fault lines, I wouldn't rely on government building codes to make the place I live safe. I would simply refuse to buy any house which didn't satisfy standards.

    In short, I recognize that it's my own job to care for my safety -- not the task of some faceless beurocrat. When my safety is infringed due to circumstances over which I had control, I then take the responsibility for that.

    Asking the government to act as Nanny to the world may seem like A Good Thing for those who are too weak and/or stupid to fend for themselves, but in the long run personal responsibility makes for a stronger society.
  • How does genetically modifying animals "do irreparable harm" or violate the sanctity of life?

    I just don't see it.
  • Now, I know some people believe that the amount of money you have truly measures your worth, but that load of bullshit is for another day.

    Well, yes, the amount of money you make does measure your worth to society. Sort of.

    After all, what you get paid basically depends on two things:

    1. The market value of what you produce
    2. How much you produce

    The market value of what you produce, remember, is based on supply and demand. If you produce something which is both so important to people that they're willing to pay a great deal of money of it, and you produce a great deal of this thing, then you're going to make more money than someone who produces less important goods, or in lesser property.

    This holds even for investment bankers and other such critters who do no work themselves; while they as individuals may not be productive (and thus valuable to society), they facilitate sufficient production to justify their wealth -- or else they wouldn't have it.

    Now, of course, this is far from perfect. For instance, it fails to measure a whole lot of things -- the volunteer work I do on a regular basis, for instance, is unreflected in what I earn; for that matter, since I frequently volunteer hours I'd otherwise be working, my volunteerism (which I think makes me more valuable to society!) reduces my personal wealth. Furthermore, trying to apply this across different economies (eg. trying to say that a doctor in China is of less value to society than a food-service worker in the US) is prone to fail rather miserably.

    That said, yes -- I do indeed believe that money is after a fashon a measure of worth.

    Btw, if you think I'm some rich prick trying to justify his income, let's just say I'm not. Indeed, my income last year was right about $4000 over the poverty line.
  • So...dog breeds, cat breeds, horse breeds, wheat strains...are all bad.

    And if some little kid gets cancer...let them die from it cause that's the way nature made it.

    The US Army has wanted mass produced spider silk for body armor for decades...and there has not been a way to do that with "chemistry or physics"

    Think of it this way...at least it's not going to pollute the environment with vat fulls of nasty chemical waste from the manufacture.
  • yeah, but what is it?

    Our ethics, our morality, our laws, are based on these arbitrary "labels".

    It's okay to eat a cow, but it's not okay to eat a dog. (in American culture). It's okay to kill bacteria by immersing them in a caustic toxic solution, but poisoning someone's cat is wrong, and illegal. You shoot a deer in the head with a rifle, but you can't legally shoot a human in the head.

    So we've got these rules based on these labels, but then we've got to explore what label we slap onto a goat with spider silk genes. Worse still, what is a cow with a human heart? Cut it up and transplant that heart - it's okay, it's not cruel to the cow - or whatever that was.

    Again, I don't want this thought to be misinterpreted as ludditeism, but maybe we need to collectively think these things through. What happens when we've got cows with a complete set of human parts inside their chest cavities - including a brain. (for partial brain tissue transplants, say - you could restore a person with severe brain damage, not their memories or personality maybe, but at least you could get them to a state where therapy could restore them to become a useful member of society again instead of a vegetable) would that brain be considered a human life? Would it be wrong to "kill" it by cutting it out of it's cow-body? This stuff sounds ridiculous, but as new things become possible, you need to "go there" - and we're laying the potential foundation for that now. . .
  • Hatfields and McCoys.

    Perhaps the REAL problem isn't religion. Perhaps the REAL problem is human nature.
  • sounds good to me.

    mmmmmmm. steaaaaaaak.

    Also - no antibiotics = no eating antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Much better control of growth hormone residue. . . no parasites, so you can eat it fucking RAW if that's how you get your jollies.

    That would be fucking awesome.
  • Don't we also collect urine from pregnant horses to gather some unique protien?
  • yes. Industrial Hemp is the gateway fiber!
  • Well, I, for one, would advocate breeding a genetic cross of hemp and marijuana, so one CAN get high off the stuff. Makes no sense to be growing all that dope and nobody getting stoned. . .
  • funny thing is, we're *NOT* playing God. Those religious folks who actually have read the Bible know that God gave us this earth, and all the plants and animals on it to do whatever we like with. (about the only laws God later passes on the treatments of Animals regard specific regulations for sacrifice, eating of "unclean" animals, having sex with animals, drinking blood, and cooking a baby goat in it's mother's milk. Not a whole lot in there about genetic engineering. In fact, Jacob does this crafty little breeding trick, and he's actually BLESSED because he was so smart.)

    Now, there is the implied directive that we not be idiots and abuse it to the point where we threaten our own existence, but then, most people don't appear to "get" that.
  • Bulldogs often have severe respiratory problems.
    German Shepards often have bad hip problems.
    Greyhounds have issues with their teeth as they age past 3 years.
    Persian cats don't seem to clean themselves after they poop.

    My advice to you if you want to get a dog; go to an animal shelter, pick up a mutt about 1 year old. (go to a college town - you're much more likely to find abandoned pets, college freshmen living away from home for the first time, get lonely, buy a puppy or kitten, then when they have to go home for the summer, they usually abandon the pet - sad but all too common scenario).

    Benefits - less likelyhood of genetic disorder. Mutts are often very cute, just as smart as purebreds for your standard sit/stay/roll over tricks, 1 year olds are already potty trained, and unless you know what you're doing, trust me, you do NOT want to get into that.
  • by jafac ( 1449 ) on Friday February 09, 2001 @01:33PM (#444812) Homepage
    That was about exactly what I would say- and I would make the point that Stalin's orders were ALSO religiously based. The religion of Athiest Humanism.

  • Raising genetically altered mammals for industrial purposes is cool, but growing industrial hemp is a crime.

    This is stupid, I'll agree with you. I'm not willing to call it a conspiracy yet, but I'm sure getting suspicious of the cotton industry...

    Custom-designing living beings is all good, but ingesting RU486 in the first trimester is murder.

    Be careful here, fella. Are you going to hold animals and humans as equals, since they're both "living beings"? In that case, you had better be prepared to support the consumption of babies as a food source as well.

    There are two things wrong with your statement. First, you're not killing the animals, you're changing their essence (in the case of genetic manipulation). Whether that's right or wrong can be argued extensively (and probably will be). In the case of RU486, that [innocent baby || wad of meiotic cells that wouldn't fill a coke spoon] is no longer living, but rather becomes a nasty bit of excretion.

    Second (and this is my prejudice, I'll admit up front), you're talking about the wanton execution of a human being! I find it pretty sad that we can exist in a world where it's perfectly okay to perform abortions, which (to me) is the same as smothering babies in their crib, and get incensed when a couple of teenagers go through a school with shotguns shooting people -- and then have the audacity to blame it on the guns.

    Well, gee, if it's okay to suck up babies with a vacuum cleaner (or quietly smother them with a pill), why not shoot annoying and troublesome people at your school? Seems logical to me...

  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @05:56PM (#444817) Homepage
    The episode where Homer had the crayon in his brain which made him stupid removed. He just returned to "Screaming Monkey Research" and asked them to put it back in...

    Scientist: "We don't play God here."

    Homer: "Correction -- You do nothing _but_ play God, and I think you're Octo-parrot would agree."

    Octo-parrot: "Rawk! Polly shouldn't be!"
  • What's this "forty miles north of the border" about? They're growing great fields of hemp in Grand Forks, BC. You can spit from Grand Fork's main street to the Cda-US border... and the hemp fields are south of the town.

  • Nobody knows the real truth. But I do. I'm have inside knowledge no one... no one could ever reveal but me.

    The baby goats cannabalized the parent. Actually this is a good thing, because killing makes them strong.

    There's nothing better than strong rope.
  • I first heard about this from a column on Opi8.com [opi8.com] by a sci-fi/fantasy writer whose works I'm rather fond of, Warren Ellis [warrenellis.com].

    Actually, it's short enough that I can quote it here...

    BAD WORLD: Bad Spidergoat

    Spidergoat, Spidergoat, does anything a... ah... Spidergoat can...
    About a hundred and fifty of them are housed on a former USAF base in Plattsburgh, New York. Eventually, Nexia Biotechnologies will corral around one thousand five hundred of the things there. Spidergoat City.

    Can it swing? Listen, bud, it's got radioactive blood!

    Well, not quite. The spidergoats have had spidery genes webbed into their goaty genetic structure that allows their uddery bits to spin a spider-unique protein into their milk. The protein is then extracted from the milk to produce the patented BioSteel, which is essentially spider-silk fibre. BioSteel, which possesses "a unique combination of strength and elasticity with an ultra-lightweight fiber," has applications in bulletproof apparel, and aerospace and medical supplies.

    Nexia will be using the base's bunkers to house the spidergoats, and will breed them in a facility above ground.

    "We feel the site ... is a real adequate site and is in a very secure setting," Isabelle Trombley-Summers, Nexia site director of agricultural affairs, told the Plattsburgh Press-Republican. She has evidently assured Plattsburgh that they will maintain excellent environmental standards at Spidergoat City. "There's no problem with that," Codes Enforcement Officer Donald Lee said of environmental and health standards. The Plattsburgh Press-Republican added: "He said there's enough room to spread goat manure, and the goats won't be near the Saranac River or any streams."

    Why are they afraid of Spidergoats pissing in the water?

    What would happen to the people of Plattsburgh if one thousand five hundred Spidergoats contaminated local fresh water supplies?

    You know, it's almost worth cutting big holes in the fence to find out.

    Check out some of his other columns while you're at it...

    Jay (=
  • I see that there can be problems. Playing around with the engineering of replicating things is kind of worrisome from the perspective of the physical damage such things could cause. There is the particle physcisist's viewpoint that evolution has had a long time to create nasty replicators and we're unlikely to come up with something worse (the particle physics corollary being that the are lots of more energetic collisions happening in the Universe than what we make in our particle accelerators and they don't produce mini-black holes, or other forms of matter more stable than the forms we're familiar with). I think this argument holds less water for such complex things as replicators though.

    We've already done some of that kind of engineering through breeding. Of course, change on the scale of what's possible with genetic engineering is somewhat foreign to us.

    As far as humans go, there are two big problems that I see. One is a monoculture problem. Genetic engineering in some social environments will have the effect of severely diminishing genetic variability.

    The other is a certain form of gene based classism that's not very distinguishable from racism.

    Those are both social problems. I don't think America, in it's current state, is really capable of handling the genetic engineering of human beings. Luckily, it also probably won't happen here for awhile for some of the same reasons that we aren't socially ready for it.

  • There's a lot more to spiders silk than just a few proteins. Spider's silk actually arranges those proteins in rather complex ways. If it were just a matter of producing some proteins and seperating them from a mixture, you could genetically engineer bacteria to do it.

    As for ethical concerns...

    Numerous SF stories have dealt with all the horrors and benfits of genetic engineering. I can't say as I'm all that worried about it. There are a few concerns I'd have if we started genetically engineering humans, but, in general, I wouldn't even be against that. I don't understand what the problem is here.

  • by WillWare ( 11935 ) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @07:59PM (#444833) Homepage Journal
    I can't say as I'm all that worried about it... I don't understand what the problem is here.

    They first came for the spider silk and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a spider.
    Then they came for the chitin and I didn't speak up because I wasn't an oyster.
    Then they came for the maple syrup and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a tree.
    Then they came for the raw dripping human brains and by that time no one was left to speak up.

  • For once the XXX.cx and FP to be funny. Congrats. The last time it happened it was more than a year ago.
  • "I freely admit I haven't thought about it that much, but silk is at the very least, *less* disposable that the products that are usually created by biologicals."

    Not really, it's just protein, and it can degrade or be digested. Many spiders will eat their own webs when getting ready to spin a new one.

  • "Thank you, Science, for ignoring a cure for many crippling diseases long enough to produce silk-lactating goats. Thank you, Science, for ignoring global warming, colonazation of the moon, sickle-cell anemia, heart disease, flying scooters, the Los Angeles Clippers, and nuclear proliferation long enough to create silk-lactating goats."

    Your absolutely right. These Scientists much yield their control of their secret mines, where Science-bearing ore is hauled out of the earth and smelted into valuable knowledge ingots, knowledge which is too valuable to be wasted on such frivolous activies, especially at a time when we are faced with all the potential disasters you've mentioned.

    I recommend we Nationalize the Science mines, so that their valuable output can be rationed to best serve the needs of the people, and establish strategic stockpiles of "Science" to protect us during times of ignorance.

    Thank you.
  • Well open a charitable organization that I'd trust not to spend half the money given to them on internal affairs and fund raising and give them a web site and I'd donate. Better yet educate the poor buggers at the same time your feeding them in something useful like programming (PC's are easier to make available than industrial machines and the tech market would no doubt have plenty of room for people bringing $$$ into a previously poor areas making them tech consumers.. and Internet is fairly cheap to spread.. ) so they can then afford to buy food for their family. I don't go for charities that only feed people or teach them stuff that'll let them work a job where they make $2/week. Give them jobs that pay them US$100,000 a year and then we won't have to worry about them anymore. Bill Gates should feed and M$ educate them. Then he'd have a couple billion new people to force Windows upo and earn all his money back over and over again. :)
  • most studies have found hemp which you post so innocently, often is used as a stepping stone to higher drugs.

    Yep, it all starts off innocently enough, but the next thing you know, people start making ropes and backbacks and yellow legal pads out of coca leaf fiber, and they'll design cars that run on poppy seed oil! It's just not worth the risk of legalizing industrial hemp.

  • Pain?

    These cows will probably experience less pain than a normal dairy cow. They probably won't even know that anything special was done. It will be done to a few selected cells of semen, the cows will be fertilized artificially, as is currently normal, and the resulting calves will be tenderly cared for, and stand a better than average chance of reaching adulthood and reproducing successful offspring.

    It's the normal cows who have some grounds for complaint, but the ones who really have ground for complaint are the veal calves. And the chickens. And the pigs, though to a lesser extent. I don't know where to fit in the turkeys.

    Most modern farm animals are psychotic, and rightly so. A psychotic detatchment from reality is probably the only way to deal with their situation. OTOH, few of them are endangered as a species. Is it a good trade-off? Depends on who judges, and what their postulates are.

    Of all the "domesticated" animals, I think cats are the only truly fortunate ones, with dogs coming a close second (the dogs really are domesticated, but it didn't do violence to their instincts).

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • The "playing God" aspect of genetic engineering is not what bothers me about it. It's the playing with fire part that has me concerned (and the subsequent scorched fingers). Experimenting with the basic building blocks of life is a rather serious business, and while the companies behind this are taking precautions, they are still motivated by profit. How many companies have you seen rush a product to market, only to find unforseen problems once it is too late to do anything about it? There's no way to tell if contact with this goat-produced silk might cause some rare form of cancer five or ten years down the line, or cause every baby born in America to look, sound, and act like Steve Ballmer - imagine the horror!

    I am not entirely against genetic engineering. It just seems to me to be a field with really, really high stakes. While I don't consider myself an expert by any stretch of the imagination, the approach taken by these companies seems cavalier at best, considering the risk. New solutions often create new problems, and I feel that we should concentrate on existing remedies before we open up what could very well be a Pandora's Box of creepy mutations and whatnot.

    That being said, a third arm and another head would really help with my game of Brockian Ultra Cricket. Hmmm...
  • But that's how Spider-Woman does it! Just gives 'em a squeeze, and the bad guys are trapped.

  • Well aren't you an arrogant fool. Stupid too.

    First off, money means dick. You don't need money to grow food, you need land great enough to sustain the people living on it. If there are too many people then they can't support themselves. End of story. But do the people spread out? No, they stay there and reproduce like bunnies until 5% of the earth's surface contains 20% of the earth's human population. Why? Because humans are stupid. Almost all of us are ready to follow any cultural tradition that has been passed down through the generations; blindly and unquestioningly. In most of these countries offspring are what people consider wealth. That tradition is killing them.

    Secondly, you say that we could easily provide enough food so that no one goes hungry. While technically this is true, it is impossible for us with our current abilities to distribute food to all of the hungry people throughout the world. If you think it IS possible then you're falling victim to your own arrogance. There are so many obsticles in the way of food distribution to the areas that need it that it's rediculous. You have corrupt governments, vast distances, oceans... The list goes on.

    I know this sounds cold hearted, but it's the facts of life. Neither greed nor nature is killing people. Our own stupidity is killing people. The only thing that can save them is going to where the food is!
  • It's the George Bush's, John Sununu's, and particularly Rush Limbaugh's of the world that are why we haven't done anything about global warming. Scientists have been worrying about global warming, and been ignored by politicians (and the media, and hence the public) for at least 30 years.

    All of these issues (except maybe the Clippers) get ignored and their proponents squashed by a simple factor - how much money either industry or the US government sees fit to invest in the necessary R&D. And that in turn is very much determined by public and consumer interest in these things. If you feel they are important, get out there and evangelize! But don't blame "Science".
  • Ok, I just have to respond to the various comments that have been made on the global warming subject though this is getting off-topic (but the thread is dead anyway)...

    More technically, "global warming" is referred to scientifically as "global climate change", and the issue on which there has been a SCIENTIFIC consensus for a long, long time (actually over 40 years now) is that humans have been putting enough CO2 gas into the atmosphere to make major long-term changes to global climate. Whether its a warming or cooling and by how much has certainly been a scientific debate for a while, but the fact that we are putting enough of these gases into the atmosphere now to make a difference has been agreed on for a long time. And that is what the politicians (sponsored by our huge oil, energy, and automotive industries) have ignored, and magnified scientific debates into do-nothingism.

    More to the point on the warming side, the fact that extra CO2 in the atmosphere can lead to an enhanced greenhouse effect (warming) was first discovered by Arrhenius, over 100 years ago. This direct effect of CO2 has NEVER been refuted. What has been at issue are the sequence of consequences from enhanced CO2-based heat trapping, and obviously it's very complicated. But anybody with a smidgen of understanding of physics and chemistry intuitively knows that when a new force is imposed (human production of CO2) the response is almost always in the direction of that force, even if the response is buffered by other factors. I.E. Warming was always expected by the majority of scientists, though the degree was quite uncertain.

    What triggered scientists concern was the extensive data taken and discussions that ensued from the International Geophysical Year 1957-1958. At that point the issue was considered more a curiosity - it did not really come to public attention until after 20 years of scientific discussion and conferences on the subject, when Congress was persuaded to pass the "National Climate Program Act" in 1978; the first World Climate Conference was held in Geneva the following year. 10 more years of international meetings followed, and then (under the Bush administration!) Congress passed the "Global Change Research Act" in 1989. The UN IPCC was also formed around that time, which continues to produce the most thorough reports on the issue.

    Early on, the greenhouse forcing by human-introduced CO2 was known to have differing effects in different parts of the world, and in the late 1970's there were arguments that the Northern Hemisphere would cool, even while the tropics heated (increased desertification). However, by 1985 (BEFORE the hot summers of the late 1980's and even hotter years of the 1990's) the scientific consensus was pretty firm on warming:

    As a result of the increasing
    concentrations of greenhouse gases, it is now believed that in the first half of the next century a rise of global mean temperature could
    occur which is greater than any in man's history.

    was the conclusion of the second World Climate Program conference in 1985.

    The scientific story has changed in only tiny details in 16 years since then, and what have our politicians done? Hemmed and hawed and said we need more research. Well, the "first half of the next century" is here, and now we have hosts of people who should know better (slashdot users in particular) who have bought the political line (paid for by our good old oil companies) without question, completely ignoring this over 100 year history of the question. Even the oil companies are abandoning their hard line now - BP is now "Beyond Petroleum"; but here in the US so many cling tenaciously to their deceptions and refuse to be disillusioned.

    If anybody who reads this is ready for disillusionment, check out the EPA's excellent site:
    http://www.epa.gov/globalwarming/index.html [epa.gov].

    Historical information on meetings and US government involvement is available at:
    http://www.cnie.org/nle/clim-6.html [cnie.org]
  • Umm. Show me an article in a reputable peer-reviewed scientific journal (say Science, or Nature, or one of the journals of the American Geophysical Union), not some garbage on the web. And the 15,000 signature business was a hoax perpetrated on well-meaning scientists by some very unscruplous anti-climate people; and that was before the consensus on climate change had become as violently clear as it has in the last few years.

    As to going back to the stone age, that's really not necessary. Fossil fuels are far from the only energy sources. Nuclear does quite a good job and actually produces less radioactive pollution (and far less waste) than coal. Wind, hydropower, and ocean-based energy systems can contribute something. But the source of all those (and of fossil fuels originally too) is the Sun; solar energy in the long run can make a huge difference. Why do we spend almost no money on research into it? Space-based solar power could potentially provide us billions of times more energy than we use now; there's no lack of resources out there. But too many people have their heads in the sand to make that investment now. At least some changes are starting to happen though.
  • people in scientific fields examine their faith more logically and don't always choose to follow the rest of the "moral majority" and instead move toward non-organized religion.

    Not only are a good chunk of scientists traditional religions (Hindu, Judiasm or Christianity), but I'd challenge that assumption that people in technology fields question their beliefs rather than follow blindly the words of another person.

    Look at the Cult of Steve Jobs, the vast army of people who believed that Bill Gates could single handedly solve the Y2K problem, and the people who follow RMS and his Software Must Be Free ideal.

    And that's just computers... get into architecture, civic planning... just about any technical profession, and you'll find sharply defined groups that follow preexisting concepts, often blindly.


  • by JabberWokky ( 19442 ) <slashdot.com@timewarp.org> on Friday February 09, 2001 @11:46AM (#444865) Homepage Journal
    I'd therefore *challenge* the Roman Catholic Church to go to deepest, darkest Africa, passing out food and water, teaching the people to read and write, without ever once mentioning anything to do with religion, showing one cross, or passing out even one bible

    Why the hell would they do that? The core tenents of Christianity are "be good to each other" and "spread that message around". The teachings of Christ were that one should teach people to be good to each other, no matter what their contribution to society or how "bad" they are (Jesus hung out with the "unclean" and "harlots" and said they all people are worthy). That way the meme of self-sacrifice and being good to each other spreads.

    Now, you can cite tons of baggage hung off the side of that message, or you can say "but that society didn't need the message", but I doubt you can say that the core message... the intent... is bad. Look at the original source (Jesus), and those who are revered for their sacrifice in the Catholic church (Mother Teresa).

    And yes, I have serious problems with many Christians and some Christian organizations (having marched for Pro Choice and Gay Rights), but having a knee jerk reaction against religion is just as bad as the people who have a knee jerk reaction against technology.

    The core concept of most religions and sciences and technologies are the same: to help people. It's amazing that they conflict in people's minds.


  • by Numeric ( 22250 ) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @07:56PM (#444868) Homepage Journal
    Well with the new spidergoats, Spiderman will have to deal with a new enemy.

  • Nah. Once we get rolling we won't bother engineering a cow to make the perfect meat, we'll simply engineer meat to grow without a cow.

    If you think about it, all the bits you don't eat are a waste product. It's much more efficient if you simply don't grow it.

    Imagine a machine that extrudes perfectly marbled sirloin, without any gristle. Just chop them to the desired thickness and you've got your steak. Quality control could be almost perfect because you'd dump pure raw materials in and get steak out, no need to use anything like ground sheep parts and risk BSE.

    Who needs a cow, which is just a circulatory system for nutrients, to grow a steak? The steak doesn't need exercise, it just needs to be 'told' to grow as if it was exercised. That's just chemical cues.
  • Well, never done coke myself, but before doing pot I went straight for amfetamines, which you aren't supposed to do before weed either.
  • To all those who raise their voices to proclaim the evils of genetic engineering, I'd just like to remind people that we've been doing this sorta thing for centuries, albeit a little bit slower.

    Domesticated dogs are the prime example of this. From a chihuahua to a great dane, all of these animals have been carefully inbred for a long time to produce certain ideal qualities. Unfortunately, many of these breeds are now exhibiting rampant genetic defects. I don't remember which is which off the top of my head, but certain breeds a prone to be born with brain damage, while others go blind almost invariably.

    So what's different about what we're doing now? It's a bit quicker, we've got a wider range of options, and we know what we're doing to a greater extent. There's still a lot that we don't know about, but from the Human Genome Project onwards, we're making some serious progress.

    For an analogy that fits most people here, the past practices of selective breeding are like slowly and meticulously swapping jumpers around. But now we've actually got the chance to look at the documentation before making any changes.

    Knowledge is power.
    • I think the concern is that we'll enslave hordes of helpless mammals to act as chemical factories for our own purposes.

    If that is your worry on this then you are too late. Cows. (We enslave them, and force them to convert water and grass to milk.) : )

    Seriously, this is not much different IMHO, from breeding cattle to have udders that are vastly larger than would have occured in wild bovine... The transgenic part of it is whats kind of creepy.

    And, in other news, The Spiderman movie thats coming out next summer will have an updated origin story. (like the new Ultimate comic did, too..)
    Apparently, ol' Peter Parker gets bitten by a genetically altered spider, rather than a radioactive one. I guess radiation isn't as unknown and high-tech as it used to be, whereas anything genetic seems to be filling the technobabble gap now that we know that radiation mainly just kills you in extreme doses, rather than mutates you into superheros.

  • I agree, right up to this part:

    ... and the good 'ol christian right had something to say about the printing press back in the day, too.

    Other way around. The printing press broke the monopoly that Rome had over the Bible and literacy. This monopoly extended to quite a few things but literacy was the biggie. Once the common person could read the Bible in his own language, the Protestant movement became unstoppable. Since there was no need for the message to be dispensed from the pulpit of the R.C. Church, people became more and more independent from it. Economically, Protestantism also was more profitable sicne it emphasised, among other things, righteousness through faith rather than forking out wodges of cash to the priests.

    Martin Luther, arguably the most influential early figure in the breakaway from Rome, had at one time published nearly half of all books circulating in Germany at the time. The printing press was - and is - the friend of the Christian right.

    The modern parallel is of course the Internet. Rome = modern governments, printing press = Internet + cryptography + PCs. But I digress...

  • Part of the reason for resistance is that farmers want to be able to save their own seed, especially if they are economically living on the edge. There's a big problem around IP in commercially engineered crops and the developing world. GM crops generally cannot produce viable seed, because the company wants the farmers to come back year after year to make purchases. A shift to commercial GM crops would entail taking people who are just about powerless and making them utterly beholden to a few very powerful international companies for their continued survival.

    We already have a food surplus. The USA and EU feed their grain to animals instead of people, because "economics" says that your hamburger is more important than the life of someone you will never meet. Don't get me started on overfed "right to life" hypocrates.

    I share your feelings, but it's way more complicated than you make it seem. The problem is that we haven't figured out how to organize a society to produce the right argicultural surplus and to distribute the surplus to every place it is needed.

    We can say, look, here's all this grain rotting in warehouses or being fed to cows and all we have to do is ship it to Ethiopia, but as logical as it would seem we don't have the economic mechanism to make it happen. Even if we wanted to, we'd have to find a way to make farmers grow human edible crops that would be acceptable to the consumers. Sure, when the people are starving they'll probably accept anything, but when the locally grown crops are doing OK then all those sweet pototoes are going to be rotting in US and EU warehouses, and our capital and energy intensive farmers are still going to want to be paid.

    In the end, the starving of the world cannot and probably should not have to depend upon being fed from the surplus of the rich. I feel it woule be better to raise them to independence and if possible to put them on an equal footing with the EU and US.

    There are some GE projects that are attempting to create better subsistence crops that will be in the public domain, such as sweet potatoes with higher protein content. I think this is good because it takes locally preferred crops and makes them better without creating a continuing dependency on the largesse of the first world. I also think that it would be great for people to learn to grow eat a greater variety of foods.

    Of the thousands plant species on the planet that are probably edible, how many are used by people on any kind of a scale? Twenty? Fifty? Perhaps one hundred on the outside? It would provide better nutrition and less risk of crop collapse.

    It's not such a bad idea for rich first world people to add new things to their diet. Recently I stewed some amranth, quinoa and barley in some stock and added a dash of tomato sauce. Yumm, and good for you too.
  • Dude, we don't even know for sure if global warming is happening [greeningearthsociety.org]. This isn't just random bullshit on the web, either. The True State of the Planet, ed. Robert Bailey, has similar data, (only up to 1992, unfortunately), and it shows a cooling trend. Bailey's book gives all its references, so you can fact-check to your heart's content.

    There also happens to be a few dissenting voices in the scientific community--15,000 of them [sepp.org], in fact.

    Finally, the steps we have taken to curtail global warming (Kyoto Accord, for instance) are really just a joke. To seriously cut back greenhouse gas emissions, we'd have to go back to the stone age, and that would come at a serious cost in standard of living and ultimately human lives. The burden would be especially heavy in developing countries, where modern pollution control technologies simply aren't available.

    That's why not much has been done.
  • You didn't mean bisexual, you meant hermaphrodite.

    Bisexual means you will have sex with males or females, not that you have both sets of reproductive organs.
  • No, the original poster was describing a situation where a creature would sexually reproduce with itself. It is true that this would be highly inefficient, and that asexual reproduction would make more sense.

    Either one would be a lose, though, for a higher form of life because there are too many negative traits need to be weeded out using sexual reproduction and natural selection.
  • Did I get something wrong here? Because the longer I think about it, the sicker I get...
    Don't be ignorant and pick up some books and start reading. A lot of the panic out there is by people that don't understand the science - hell, mutations happen all the time and are part of, and required for, all life.
    I'm not sure it's scientific ignorance. I think the concern is that we'll enslave hordes of helpless mammals to act as chemical factories for our own purposes.
    Patrick Doyle
  • The company: Nexia Biotechnology [nexiabiotech.com]
    The product: BioSteel [nexiabiotech.com]
  • I'm not against growing hemp in the United States, in fact I am very much for it. The argument against growing it mostly protains that it would be really easy to plant a bunch of marijuana in a hemp field since the plants look exteremly similar. In my parents ranch in Nebraska, there is wild hemp and marihuana growing in one of their pastures. One would first have to know the differences AND look very closely at the plants to tell the difference.

    IMHO I think the U.S. should just legalize marijuana and start a strong hemp production.

    _ _ _
    I was working on a flat tax proposal and I accidentally proved there's no god.

  • by xtal ( 49134 ) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @07:03PM (#444892)

    Before I start: All of this stuff is going to happen in the future, because if you Americans don't do it, us Canadians will, or the Europeans will, or the Japaneese, or the Chinese, or the Russians. Just because it doesn't fit into your morality doesn't mean much - welcome to globalization, and there isn't diddly you can do about it. All of my arguements follow from this point; You can debate this, but I see it as fact.

    This is unrelated, but growing industrial hemp is a crime., but it's perfectly legal in Canada, about 40 miles north of the border. Take a stand on your government's international joke, er, war on drugs, or shut up and move. Listening to americans whine about the Wo(s)D when they all obediantly piss in a bottle to get a job is amusing.

    Raising genetically altered mammals for industrial purposes is cool

    You ain't seen nothing yet. I picked up a couple books on genetics at Chapters last weekend, just to see what's changed since the last time I took a biology couse (about 8 years ago, in high school). The amount of information being collected on how living organism works is absolutely incredible. People are beginning to apply lithographic techniques - commonly used to make chips - as templates to grow tissues with the ultra-fine blood vessles that before were impossible to grow artificially.

    The nanotech people should take a good hard look at nature's nanotech - cells, viruses and how they work - I think that a lot of these advances are happening because engineers are finally getting the tools to work with life. It's potential benefits to mankind are absolutely amazing, and some might argue the risk is too high - maybe so - but someone, somewhere, IS going to do this stuff, because the benefits are too high not to. Chemicals and drugs that cost a fortune can be made cheaply and easily. Biological materials - like orange juice - can be mass produced in a factory, rather than pollute the earth with fertilizier and other pesticides.

    Did I get something wrong here? Because the longer I think about it, the sicker I get...

    Don't be ignorant and pick up some books and start reading. A lot of the panic out there is by people that don't understand the science - hell, mutations happen all the time and are part of, and required for, all life. It's just like anything else - I'm sure there were people that thought electricity was the work of the devil, and the good 'ol christian right had something to say about the printing press back in the day, too.

    I think that by understanding and engineering the base principles of life, we'll be able to understand and evaluate the risks much more intelligently, for the benefit of all of man. These advances are going to happen; Find a way to deal with it. Pick up a book and learn about your good buddy, DNA, and cellular metabolism. A lot has changed since I last looked.

  • by colmore ( 56499 ) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @06:10PM (#444899) Journal
    "Thank you, Science. We'll keep the taxpayer dollars rolling in." Actually if you had read the article you'd know that the company's funding comes from their IPO, or in other words PRIVATE INVESTORS. So yes thank you, science for trying to make money, which is what most science is, a capitalist endevour. I really dislike the notion that all science is is publicly funded medical research for the "Good Of Man." Even most cancer research is done by drug companies hoping to get really really rich. And that's the way it should be. So it's silly to critisize scientists for pursueing "worthless" tasks, since they have their motivations.
  • I find it a constant source of amazment that a group of people who think nothing of daming rivers for electricity to run their computers, (one of the more environmently friendly forms of energy creation actually).

    How is tinkering with genetic codes more 'playing god' then creating new lakes where there were none before, changing ecological niches, probably causing new species to evolve, to fit the new ecological niches created.

    How about the effect from electomagnetic fields? New roads through the countryside?

    Face it people, we're playing God. We always have. Chaos theory argues that our existance on this planet will change things, even if we all stood perfectly still and didn't move for all our lives.

    Like any technology, there will be ethical considerations, and we'll screw it up occasionaly.

    Can we cause irreperable damage? Probably. Can we use the technology to save ourselves? Probably.

    On the other hand, one of those cosmic rays could zap one of us just right and randomly cause any given mutation "naturally". Does that make it OK?

    Let's face it, we already have plenty of technologies that let us wipe out the planet earth. Anyone who feels like it can use one of them, or the new one. What this gives us is a whole new way to solve problems.

    Being an optimist, I like to assume that we will cause more good then harm from new techologies.

    Unfortunatly, the media finds it easier to sell (insert medium here) using bad news. So we all hear about 'clones' being evil (most of which assume a clone will be of the memorex variety, not the identical twin reality), and nanotech will destroy the earth, and the internet will cause our children to become porn loving, rocket launcher shooting, black clothing wearing, 3l337 hax0rz.

    I find it suprising that so many /.ers are biting on the same story we all rebel against when it's applied to us (internet bad, internet geeks evil) when it's applied to genetic engineering.

    Nuff Said.

    Remove the rocks to send email
  • > Until we start caring about world hunger ... We already have a food surplus

    Stable, well managed countries with no civil wars don't have catastrophic famines. Begging food from the first world is not and never will be more than a very temporary solution. Good governance is what is needed.

  • that's a pretty good fist prost, man.

    Also, there was a quite fitting quote at the bottom:

    "What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying." -- Nikita Khrushchev

    All your dangifiknow [dangifiknow.com] are belong to us.
  • by po_boy ( 69692 ) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @05:16PM (#444907) Homepage
    In case you don't read the article, silk does not just come shooting out of their tits. It's like this:
    Their milk looks and tastes like the real thing, but once its proteins are filtered and purified into a fine white powder, they can be spun into tough thread.

    All your dangifiknow [dangifiknow.com] are belong to us.
  • This smells like a hoax. I think it'd be great 'n all but I just seems like we aren't advanced enough to target spider genes and the complex biological processes which produce the silk from it's specialized organs directly at the udders of a goat. I mean genes and the creatures they produce are a culmination of millions of randomly derived interdependent biochemical reactions.

    At BEST I'd expect the milk from the goats to perhaps contain some spider silk like material (and I'm still skeptical), but there is just no way that udders are spinning silk as this article suggests.
  • Did you ever notice that they always cross two very strange breeds of things, like in this case Nigerian Dwarf Goats? I wonder how cheaper the research could have been if they'd done something a little bit more common.

    Plus, they always give these animals dumb names, once again, these two are named Mille and Muscade. I mean, is it me, or do you get the idea they named them after they made the breakthrough - just so they were something memorable. I highly doubt anybody initially named an animal Muscade. I figure, if you wouldn't name your child it, you wouldn't name your "pet" or "project" it as well.

    And why did they choose spider silk as their concentrated trait. I find that as random as say the 3-asses from the south park episide. Next thing we'll be hearing about monkeys which milk silk, and ponies which milk silk, and so on...

    Which brings me to my final thought: How stupid does "milk silk" sound. I tell you, its about the dumbest thing I've ever heard of. Next we'll be able to get red-meated chickens, chickens with four sets of breasts, and of course, pork with 3 asses (increasing the number of rump roasts available).

    Genetics, B'AH!
  • Yeah (with reference to the FP), I'm sure the issue entitled:

    "Spiderman vs. spidergoatse.cx"

    Will both give the illustrators nightmares, and become and instant collectors issue ;-)

  • by totoro ( 81409 ) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @07:02PM (#444923)

    Actually, industrial hemp can not be used to produce the same psychoactive effects as its close relative marijuana. In fact, industrial hemp contains a relatively high level of CBD, a chemical that inhibits any effects that the plant's modicum of THC could have on a person.

    Check out The Ultimate Web Resource for Hemp [industrialhemp.net].

    I do not really feel like arguing the validity of the 'stepping stone' myth regarding marijuana, but I tend to think that it is greatly overstated by its supporters.

  • What do you mean "Let nature be the way it was made" what do you think we are, we were made by nature, we are nature. You want to have every thing the way nature (in your view) intended, go live in the jungle or african plain with nothing but your naked self, and don't even think of picking up a rock to hit somthing with it. Because that would be un-natural...
  • We'll just genetically engineer some silk eating bacteria.

    We'll field test it at the next Oscars awards.

  • If the Spider Woman from the cartoon shot her webs out of her teats, I'd still be watching.
  • The article also says the spider silk gig is just a test, and the scientist wants to use goats to make medicines. These critters are axolotl tanks [slashdot.org]!
  • Some day we'll just have the single ultimate animal and get rid of the rest. Then another 20 years down the line we'll find it's susceptible to some terrible illness like Ebola or HIV/AIDS. We'll be well stuffed then.

    Does somebody want to draw anologies with the current possible problems threatening monoculture farming? Feeding cows on other dead cows seems to have given us BSE for starters.

    Can anybody say 'biodiversity'?

  • Now if only they could produce a spider-man that could shoot webs out of his.... wrists. Has anyone else thought of this? I think it would make a great saturday morning cartoon show, or comic book. This spider-man could fight super villians like Ox-boy and Microsoft Bob. I volunteer the famous news-paper photographer peter parker to be the first test subject. Huzzah for science!

  • Troll? what idiot moderater modded my post troll? This is my actual opinion, yes. If you dont like it, this is a free county, you are free to post a counter argument to my points. To simply slam me down for no good reason is an insult. Im trying to express myself, and maybe start an interesting discussion in the process, if thats a troll, then call me a troll.

  • by cybercuzco ( 100904 ) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @05:47PM (#444944) Homepage Journal
    Its simple, dont be a hypocrite, just be for everything you mention, I know i am

  • Forget the goat silk - I want goats that give me BEER!

    Mmmm... goat beer
  • We already have a food surplus. The USA and EU feed their grain to animals instead of people, because "economics" says that your hamburger is more important than the life of someone you will never meet. Don't get me started on overfed "right to life" hypocrates.
    If we didn't feed grain to animals, yes, the price would be slightly lower. What's your point?

    Of course scientists have already [theatlantic.com] made huge contributions to fighting world hunger, and there's less starvation and malnutrition in the world than ever before.

    Let's see, has the idea about putting caring above economics been tried before? Yes, come to think of it, in the USSR and China, among other places. The result? 100 MILLION people died.

    Also, what's this bullshit about "right to life" got to do with it? The "right to life" Catholic Church is one of the biggest charity providers in the third world.

  • OK, I can understand and respect (and maybe agree with) your opinions on genetic engineering. But do you honestly not see what the problems are? Or do you just not think they'll come to pass.

    BIG difference, and I'm noping for one over the other.

  • And that is the day we gladly hand over the reins to such an obviously advantaged species, homo superior!
  • by Antaeus Feldspar ( 118374 ) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @05:29PM (#444960) Homepage

    What are the implications of creating new transgenic species as biological manufacturing machines for products that aren't throw-away?

    I freely admit I haven't thought about it that much, but silk is at the very least, *less* disposable that the products that are usually created by biologicals. Most everything else is food, so that what gets produced goes back into the ecosystem... If the average food product lasts three months before it's consumed, and these spidersilk products last for seven years, say, before wearing out... I wonder what the effect of introducing that lag time into the system will be.

  • by puetzc ( 131221 ) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @06:20PM (#444969)
    What we really have is a crisis of bad governments. Most of the food sent to hungry people either rots in storage and shipment, or is diverted before it ends up in the hands (or stomachs) of the people who are hungry. Aid agencies need more trucks, and better roads. Fewer cows in the EU or the US will not feed people in Africa. Better governments in the third world will.
  • Not necessarily. Some scientists have seriously considered genetically engineering animals so that the males excrete engineered proteins in their semen. It would certainly make a very interesting web shooter.

  • How many companies have you seen rush a product to market, only to find unforseen problems once it is too late to do anything about it?

    But this quote is good evidence that these problems are hardly distinctive to genetic engineering. Companies produce new products with potentially serious health, environmental, and other consequences every day. Look at worries about cell phones causing brain damage, food additives causing cancer, cars causing pollution, etc. We don't even blink when people create those things, but suddenly flinch when people start talking about genetic engineering. There's no rational reason to be especially worried about things produced by genetic engineering relative to other processes- particularly when you're talking about a big thing like a goat that's comparatively easy to keep from escaping and reproducing in the wild.

    If anything, genetic engineering like this seems likely to be safer than trying to produce new synthetic materials with the same properties. After all, spider silk is something that already exists in nature, so we'd have a pretty good idea if coming in contact with it were likely to cause cancer, acting like Steve Ballmer, or the like. The goat produced silk is chemically identical, just derived from a different source. And we already have some idea of the environmental impact of raising goats. Compare that to a new synthetic polymer. Because it would be completely novel, rather than simply a new way of producing an existing thing, we would actually need to study it much more carefully to be sure that it had no terrible consequences. And we'd also need to look very carefully at the environmental consequences of the factories set up to produce it, since their impact would not be known either.

  • by rgmoore ( 133276 ) <glandauer@charter.net> on Thursday February 08, 2001 @05:29PM (#444972) Homepage

    One thing that I'm a bit suspicious about is this quote:

    Turner got the idea while teaching at McGill University in Montreal in 1992, after learning that scientists had isolated three spider genes that code for silk proteins. "It was a purely serendipitous find. The silk gland of spiders and the milk gland of goats are almost identical. Teats equal spinnerets."

    While there may be some biochemical similarities, my understanding is that part of the reason that spider silk is as strong as it is is because of the precise physical arrangement of the protein fibers relative to each other, and that the spiders' glands contain special protein machinery that guarantees correct alignment. IOW, even if you can get the protein, you still have to "spin" it in a special way to get the properties you want, and the goats aren't equipped to do that. So there's a serious question about whether or not the engineered silk will actually be useful. Don't start saving for your ultralight climbing ropes yet.

  • Actually, you'd have to smoke a telephone-pole sized joint of industrial hemp to get a buzz. The real issue is that it's otherwise indistinguishable from the kind that makes people paranoid, forgetful, and stupid, and leads them to more dangerous drugs. Industrial hemp is simply a cheap way to get a strong, useful fiber.
  • Research is already underway to create fruits that can prevent diseases simply by being eaten

    Actually, the regular consumption of "disease prevention substances" might end up being bad for you (and everybody else) in the long term.

    It goes like this:

    • Some disease prevention substances work by being "unpleasent" for viruses and bacteria (ie killing them).
    • Viruses and bacteria mutate a lot.
    • The more common it is for a certain substance to be in the host's body (the more people consume it), the more probable it is that those viral and bacterial mutations face that substance. When it happens the best mutations survive and the others die.
    • The next generation of viruses, bacterias will be born (and mutate) from some that are already partialy-imune to the substance
    • Sooner or later a bug comes up that can thrive on the stuff (maybe even eat it).
    • Now you have a viral/bacterial strain that's resistat to the substance ...
    • ... and a substance that could previously be used to cure that disease and now is worthless
    This problem also affects plants that are geneticaly modified to contain a certain antibiotic - resisting strains develop faster, and then the whole culture field (because of monoculture practices) die.

    Also because of this people shouldn't take antibiotics before they are actually sick.

  • Actualy what matters is not the numbers but the process used to obtain them.

    By tunning your statistical processes you can generate whatever results you want. For example:

    I can generate numbers that "prove" that the average temperature of the planet in the last 100 years has come down by 10 degrees. I simply limit my sample of temperatures to values taken around vulcanos which were active in the past and are not active anymore. (actualy i could use it to prove a decrease in temperature of 1000 degrees)

    By looking at my process it seems immediatly obvious that the values are skewed.

    However if all i present is a nice chart of values that "definitivly prove my theory" plus a nice headline like "Global Cooling in the 20th century", i can convince a lot of people ...

  • Yeah, it is sick. They could have got them to produce beer instead...
  • Did I get something wrong here? Because the longer I think about it, the sicker I get...

    Yes you did, Injesting RU486 is perfictly legal in the US, although Bush wants the FDA to 'reevaluate' it. Anyway, what exactly causes the huge moral sepreation between abortion and genetic enginering?

    Amber Yuan 2k A.D
  • The US Army is majorly funding this endeavor, because many years ago they recognized the possibilities of such a new technology. They wanted it for use in super-flexible, super-light, super-strong body armor that they could also rig up with electronics so they could be fully aware of their surroundings in possible upcoming urban combat situations. They could also use the silk to make ropes that they could use to tow things around in air. They just have to think of a way to keep the plane connected to the rope.

    Beyond the options the army has already come up with, this goat silk could be used as the frame for subcompact cars, which would greatly reduce the weight.

    Instead of thinking of why goat silk sounds funny, why don't we all try to think of something to do with these endless possibilites. Happy hunting. !

  • by brienv ( 144297 ) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @05:40PM (#444982)
    Got Silk?
  • Well, here you go, now you know one. I've only got mild contact highs from pot in particularly unvented parties and have never smoked an entire joint on my own in 32 years on the planet ... but I rather like cocaine and crystal to keep up a particularly good blowout lasting, although I'm not really a big fan of either just for themselves. My favorite drug is zoomies, I dunno where you think fungus fits into this 'progression' of yours, and lately I'm rather liking some of the nifty pills going around like Mitsubishis (MDMA/opium) and Stop Signs (MDMA/PCP). And I drink like a fish, but that's just keeping up with the rest of my good Polish peasant family stock. That's how we survived those cold winters, you know.

    So there you go. Pot stinks and just the smoke makes me feel sleepy, fuck that, I went straight for the good stuff. Sure I may be a minority, but we're definitely out here :)
  • Surely bullet-proof vests made from goat's milk will strike fear into the hearts of any enemy...

    Hey Paco! Looook at the Amereecan seesies!

  • by CarrotLord ( 161788 ) <don.richarde@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday February 08, 2001 @06:12PM (#445001) Journal
    Surely one day, we will end up genetically engineering an animal that does everything we need. We could make it have great tasting meat, produce and collect methane to fuel our cars, make different flavoured milk out of each teat, be bisexual and able to reproduce with itself, have a switchable glow-bum for lighting, grow steel wool, and so on. We will have no need at all for bio-diversity. It will be great!

    The future looks more exciting than ever!


  • It's not as if "Science" acts with one mind. What you are saying is as ridiculous as me blaming you for the global warming and the Clippers. What were YOU doing this weekend? Maybe when you were out seeing a movie there was some homeless guy freezing to death in an alley, or dying from an OD, right in your town? And what did YOU do to stop it? Nothing. When you were watching Babylon 5 reruns this week, you weren't doing anything to stop nuclear proliferation, were you? Clearly YOU are at fault for these things and probably many more.

    That's a stupid argument, isn't it? So stop blaming "Science."

  • It depends on the protein.

    The "prions" that are thought to cause "mad cow disease" are proteins. They are also exceptionally tough. Autoclaving won't wreck them, for example. It all depends on how the protein is formed and folded.
  • I think George Carlin, of all people, said it best:

    Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man, living in the sky, who watches everything you do every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of 10 things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these 10 things, he has a special place full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever til the end of time...but he loves you.

  • by thex23 ( 206256 ) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @05:46PM (#445066) Homepage
    So let me get this straight:

    Raising genetically altered mammals for industrial purposes is cool, but growing industrial hemp is a crime. Custom-designing living beings is all good, but ingesting RU486 in the first trimester is murder.

    Did I get something wrong here? Because the longer I think about it, the sicker I get...

    We thieves, we liars, we vandals, and poets. Networked agents of Cthulhu Borealis.

  • by corbettw ( 214229 ) <corbettw@ y a h o o . com> on Thursday February 08, 2001 @07:06PM (#445074) Journal
    Bullshit. Golden Rice is designed to keep people from going blind, not just starving (they can avoid that with regular rice). It doesn't have Vitamin A, it has beta carotine, the precursor to vitamin A and a much needed nutrient for the eye. As for why poor people can't get it, reference this article in Reason Magazine [reason.com]. Basically, some ecofreaks/neoluddites (like Greenpeace) won't let it see the light of day. They've even gone so far as to threaten violence to keep it out of the supposedly pure ecosystem.

    Yes, there are some issues with patents that are getting in the way, but that has more to do with European bureaucracy than "profit hungry capitalists" (who happy to have food hungry mouths to feed themselves, so of course they want to make money).

  • by Alatar ( 227876 ) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @06:34PM (#445088) Homepage
    Mothballed air force base...that means it's out of business. The government got rid of the base (that means it's not government property any more). If you actually read the article, this goat thing was done *privately*, with private funds, on private time, and on private property. The U.S. Government is deserving of enough scorn without making up false rumors.
  • by Anoriymous Coward ( 257749 ) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @05:19PM (#445119) Journal
    I was going to rant about cruelty to goats, which is a hot button issue for half the readership of slashdot, and a hobby for the other half. But then I realized that compared with dairy cattle, who have essentially the same things done to them on an industrial scale, these goats don't have it too bad.
  • by Maldivian ( 264175 ) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @06:28PM (#445125)
    Scientists at an undisclosed facility in New Jersey, were able to successfuly clown spiders with goat tits. These spiders could be mass produced and due to their small sized, easily shipped to people in need of milk. Also in news, salvation army has laid off 90% of their workers, in order to generate enough money to buy the patents to this process and the genes of the booby spider.
  • by goathappyspider ( 314338 ) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @05:42PM (#445168)
    Genetically altered fruits and vegetables, which are already in the works, could bring an end to hunger worldwide

    Sorry to contradict you, but this has been done already, and the genetically modified rice has met what they're calling "consumer resistance". That means the people who need it are not buying it. Because, presumably, they have no money as well as no food. Until we start caring about world hunger GE will just be used the same way every other technology is used - to insulate the already wealthy from the world around them.

    <rant>We already have a food surplus. The USA and EU feed their grain to animals instead of people, because "economics" says that your hamburger is more important than the life of someone you will never meet. Don't get me started on overfed "right to life" hypocrates. </rant>

The road to ruin is always in good repair, and the travellers pay the expense of it. -- Josh Billings