Genome Discovery Ushers In Sinister Era, Some Say


LONDON ( - While scientists celebrated their latest genetic breakthrough, churchmen and campaigners for disabled groups warned that the development of a map of the human genome could lead to selective breeding of humans.

On Monday an international team of researchers announced they had mapped 97 percent of the human genome -- the genetic makeup of the human body -- in a scientific accomplishment on a par with the discovery of penicillin or the lunar landing.

But a spokesman for the Anglican Church said Tuesday that the breakthrough could usher in a sinister era of perfect people and death to the disabled. "The further science goes, the further the worst case scenario goes," Steve Jenkins, a spokesman for the Church of England, told Reuters. "I'm not anti-science but there is no way that God is now out of a job."

He continued: "It's the difference between using genetics to correct something that has gone wrong and using them to create something considered perfect. The idea of designing humans from scratch along with the prospect of an enormous increase in abortion is not the world we want."

Richard Nicholson, editor of the Bulletin of Medical Ethics, said. "Like climbing Mount Everest, it will benefit few people, leaving most untouched. But unlike climbing Mount Everest, it has the potential to damage large numbers of people."

Paul Tully, general secretary of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said: "We welcome discoveries that may lead to curative treatment for people with genetic diseases. However, we would sound a note of caution, living as we do in a world where the practice of abortion and IVF techniques designed to eliminate disabled babies are widespread. Knowledge can be used for good and evil, particularly in this area."