Review ofTHE FRANKENSTEIN SYNDROME Ethical and Social Issues in the Genetic Engineering of Animals by Bernard E. Rollin New York: Cambridge U. Press, 1995 Review (c) by Richard T. Hull, Ph.D. Austin, TX
Frankenstein as Archetype of the Scientist • There are over 145 editions of Mary Shelley’s novel. • There are over 2,500 novels, translations, adaptations, stories, critical works, popular articles, series, fumetti, verse, stage plays, films, cartoons, satire and humor, spoken and musical recordings, tapes and sheet music featuring Frankenstein’s monster and/or descended from Shelley’s novel. • Science is blamed for pollution, for failing to conquer disease, for cavalier treatment of human and animal research subjects, and public confidence in science is on the wane.
Differing Popular Conceptions of the Genetic Engineering of Animals • Dr. Frankenstein created new life with (potentially) hellish consequences. • Therefore, genetic engineering is well represented by the Frankenstein story, and should be banned. • Without genetic engineering, we won’t be able to keep our competitive edge against the Japanese. • Therefore, genetic engineering should be unrestricted.
What is the case • The genetic engineering of animals cannot be stopped - it is too simple and relatively inexpensive. Were it banned here, it would be moved to a less regulatory environment. • The technology needs to be controlled, for a variety of reasons and in a variety of dimensions to be presented below. • As late as 1986, only one person had written any papers on the moral issues occasioned by the technology. There is a gap between those who uncritically embrace all technology and those who are naive and unable to articulate the issues.
The Aim of Rollin’s Book • To dissect out the moral issues in the case of genetic engineering of animals. • To disambiguate the genuine moral issues from the spurious ones. • To consider the best means of dealing with these issues in our society.
Chapter 1: “There are certain things humans were not meant to do” • Gresham’s law for ethics: bad moral thinking tends to drive good moral thinking out of circulation. • Scientists do little to educate the public about moral issues in science, because most are trained to ignore them. • In practice, what emerges as ethical or moral issues is shaped by the media: • Baby Fae Case: “The Monkey or the baby” ignored the use of pig valves for years. • Nazi experimentation on concentration camps portrayed as worthless: the rapid development of high altitude aerospace medicine would have been much slower without Nazi data. • Public Assumes media coverage is adequate.
The Public’s View of Moral Issues • Press presents moral issues as dilemmas for dramatic effect. • Public thus assumes all moral issues are dilemmas. • Intermediate solutions get ignored by virtue of the drama of the extremes. • Use of animals experimentally was presented as a dilemma: either abolish medical research on animals or permit researchers total autonomy in animal use. But the middle course of regulation prevailed. • Rollin’s view is that a similar middle way should prevail for genetic engineering.
Why Scientists aren’t talking ethics • Practitioners of a field are least likely to think about the conceptual presuppositions and ethical concerns in it. • Scientific ideology rests on a set of assumptions. • Moral judgments cannot be verified or falsified by experiment or observation. • Therefore, moral judgments are expressions of emotions and enjoy no claim to truth. • Therefore, science is value free: • “Science cannot make value judgments . . .and cannot make moral judgments.” Keeton and Gould, Biological Science, p. 6. • “Science does not make ethical or moral decisions.” Mader, Biology, p. 15.
The invalid inference • Claim 1: The truth of moral statements is unrelated to the truth of scientific statements. • Claim 2: The truth of moral statements is unrelated to the truth of statements about how the enterprise of testing the truth of scientific judgments should develop. • Claim 2 does not follow from Claim 1: even if science doesn’t make moral judgments in validating truth claims, it does not follow that how that validation is conducted “ought not to be hampered by moral judgments.” (James Wyngaarden, former director of NIH) • e.g., using prisoners to test drugs w/o freely given consent.
Is genetic engineering inherently wrong? • Condemnations often take the line that e.g. “blurs species,’ is “messing with nature,” “violates the sanctity of life,” is “playing God,” etc. • Condemnations get stronger in direct proportion to the dramatic nature of the genetic intervention. • 46% of public believes “we have no business meddling with nature.” (OTA) • 67% of the public believe that creation of new life forms should not be pursued.” (NSF) • “Genetic engineering of animals does not display the proper respect for the gift of life.” (National Council of Churches)
Intrinsic Objections to Genetic Engineering • G. E. is reductionistic. • Species should remain inviolable. • G. E. confuses the distinction between nature and culture. • Nature is perfect as it is; G.E. alters what is perfect. • Learning to genetically engineer animals will lead to genetically engineering humans.
Chapter 2: Rampaging monsters • Addresses extrinsic objections to Genetic Engineering: • It will inevitably lead to unanticipated dangers. • Scientific arrogance that all unanticipated dangers can be neutralized by science is unwarranted. • The lessons of Jurassic Park are that Genetic Engineering will fall into the hands of fools and those motivated by pecuniary interests. • These are dismissed as indicating only that we need regulation.
More Serious Concerns • Reasonable skepticism about “Experts judging risks” • Sense One: Significant numbers of people in society may not trust experts (a) to fully identify risks associated with their area of expertise, or if they do (b) to take them seriously enough to suit common sense. • Sense Two: Many people in society may not trust experts to decide for society in general what risks its members should take in pursuit of a particular technology or innovation.
Dealing with Sense One • Brainstorming about risks is an essential first step toward managing this technology. • Scrutiny of possible risks and their management should involve those not engaged in their creation, as a control against • the blinding fervor of the joy of scientific inquiry and the excitement of the chase; • the potential financial rewards of commercially viable products. • 80 percent of the public wants to be consulted in a far more significant way on setting biotechnology policy (survey in Colorado and North Carolina, by Hoban and Kendall, 1992).
Dealing with Sense Two • Given that we have identified the risks in G. E. and their likelihood, to let the experts in the relevant facts make the value decisions on what risks we should take and how we should regulate it is fallacious: it conflates knowing what is the case with how we ought to regulate its pursuit. • The values of experts may not be the values of other members of the society in which they reside. • Final decisions about what is to be pursued and at what risk should be as democratic as possible. This entails • not letting physicians decide the right and wrong of social medical policy. • funding priorities should not be dictated by panels of experts in the fields in question.
A Model for Regulation of Genetic Engineering • Extensive public hearings, country-wide, on genetic engineering of animals, to construct a list of concerns about risks, to be responded to intelligently and in lay terms in discussions of their management or minimization, together with the expected benefits, the resultant document to be widely circulated. • Federal mandate of broadly representative local committees to judge and pass on proposals for genetic engineering of animals, through public hearings, and weighing their results, ultimately deciding to accept or reject each proposed project. • A federal agency to monitor the system of local committees.
I. Evolution in the fast lane. • Traditional breeding imposed a waiting period associated with attempting to incorporate traits into organisms, through many generations. Insertion of genes skips generations, and confronts the realities of pleiotropy: one gene and its products code for more than a single trait, in concert with other genes. • Isolated characteristics engineered into an organism may have unsuspected harmful consequences to humans who consume the resultant animal. • Control through lots of small-scale testing before releasing or depending on the new organism.
II. Narrowing of the Gene Pool • A “superior” animal, created transgenetically with rapidity, gives a competitive edge to those who use it. Other stock is replaced with this animal, as old strains become viewed as obsolete. The entire branch of agriculture becomes monocultured. Over time, problems develop and the potential for responding to them is lost with the shrinkage in the gene pool. • Control through establishing a “gene library” of animals--a collection of germ plasm, and use g.e. to widen the gene pool.
III. Unwittingly Selecting for Pathogens • Engineering strains that are resistant to a given pathogen may well result in selecting for new variations among the natural mutations of that pathogen to which the modified animal would not be resistant. • Engineering other characteristics into animals changes internal microenvironments in ways that can provide selection pressures to change the nature of the microbes they host.
IV. Genetically Engineered Disease Models • Animals engineered to host human diseases, such as AIDS mice, could escape. • Viruses inserted into AIDS mice can interact with a common mouse virus to produce a new pathogen synergistically. Such viral variants may have the capacity to spread by new routes, such as transmission through the air. • Control through extraordinary containment policies, aiming at seemingly far-fetched risks and preparing for the worst case.
V. Environmental/Ecological Consequences • Escape of genetically altered animals followed by their interacting with native populations. Example: Killer bees accidentally released in California from a research colony. • Introduction of genetically engineered animals into the broader environment, such as predator insects, could select for super-prey. • Control through systematic examination of each project through application of a table of commonsensical, reasonable general principles.
VI. Military Applications • Possibility of bioengineering of animals to be used as vectors for infecting enemy populations with human pathogens (e.g., genetically engineered mosquitoes to spread the AIDS virus) • Can’t be avoided by prohibiting biotechnology in the United States: techniques are relatively cheap and can be done by any terrorist group or government that hires the relevant expertise.
VII. Socioeconomic Concerns • Genetic engineering of animals may accelerate the tendency for small farmers to go out of business because they cannot compete with large corporations. • Efficiency and maintaining low prices carry the risk of decreasing animals’ well-being. • Loss of valued forms of human life--small towns, farming families--that embody values worth preserving.
Chapter Three: The Animal’s Plight • Reviews traditional anti-cruelty ethic. • Covers the newly emergent social ethic for animals. • Addresses how Genetic Engineering can help animals by changing their telos. • Asserts Conservation of Welfare as the central guiding principle in the creation of transgenic animals. • Addresses special problems associated with transgenic animal models of human diseases.
The Traditional Anti-cruelty Ethic • Biblical prohibition against deliberate cruelty toward animals: • Don’t muzzle an ox when it is threshing grain, for it would involve unnecessary suffering for the animal with no gain for humans • Don’t yoke an ox and an ass together; it would involve unnecessary suffering for the weaker animal to be forced to keep up with the stronger, and nothing is gained.
19th century laws against cruelty to animals and neglect of animals • Aimed at protecting animals from senseless abuse • Aimed at protecting humans from individuals who would do that sort of thing: people who begin with abusing animals will often graduate to abusing people. Most of the most notorious mass murderers in the last decade have histories of animal abuse. • Enforcement, however, was not vigorous, and judges would refuse to enter judgments of cruelty which had not been endorsed by changes in the social ethic.
Problems in the anti-cruelty ethic • The ethic equates abuse of animals with cruelty, and sees kindness to animals as equivalent to good treatment. • Most animal abuse is not done out of cruelty, but out of ignorance of the animal’s needs and nature. • Much animal suffering caused by people motivated by good reasons and goals: curing disease advancing knowledge, producing cheap food, testing the safety of products. • Kindness is an inadequate basis for moral obligation. The civil rights and suffrage movements didn’t have as their battle cries, “Be kind to blacks! Be kind to women!”
Causes of the New Social Ethic for Animals • Climate of ethical soul-searching about forms of exploitation heightens sensitivity to injustice. • Animal issues have been kept prominently in view because “animals sell papers.” • 98.3% of our society is urban and suburban, with no direct contact with how animals are raised, killed, and processed. • A rational framework for articulating and defending what was traditionally seen as merely a matter of emotion and sentiment has been produced.
There has been a change in how animals are used. Animal agriculture was chiefly animal husbandry. Agriculture was a fair contract, with humans helping animals to live their natural lives, and animals providing their products or their lives. • In last 50 years, traditional husbandry replaced by factory farming, with animals kept under conditions for which they are not biologically or psychologically suited. We can now fail to respect animal’s natures and still be productive and efficient. • Research and testing has emerged as a major and highly controversial area of animal use. Researchers are not sadistic or cruel people, but they cause suffering. • All this has led to the notion that animals have, or should be regarded as having, rights.
The “New” Rights of Animals • Proper treatment of animals is a duty, not a matter of kindness. • As a duty, proper treatment of animals should be legally encoded (i.e., mandatory). • Mandated regulation must replace the traditional husbandry ethic to assure respect for animal interests flowing from their natures.
The effect on animals, and not just the benefit to humans, should guide the regulation of future and new uses of animals. • The well-being that should be protected involves both control of pain and suffering and allowing the animals to live their lives in a way that suits their biological natures. • Research laws allow as “necessary suffering” only that suffering that is impossible to alleviate, in the context of human use. Expense, inconvenience, or inefficiency is no longer an excuse for not controlling pain and suffering. • Regulatory change has brought about conceptual change. Before 1957, there was no such thing as “psychological well-being of primates.” After, there was, and science had to allow for it.
Genetic Engineering of Animals’ Telos • Improvement through genetic engineering possible: • Disease resistance engineered in chickens to certain tumors. • The poll gene, from a strain of horn-less cattle, can be engineered into all cattle, who are now de-horned surgically and without anesthesia. • Genetic engineering can be use to deal with genetic disease in animals, either through gene therapy or by altering the defective genome. • Could engineer food animals to fit confinement conditions.
The rights of animals are to be understood in terms of not violating the animal’s nature. This does not preclude changing the animal’s nature. If animals could be made happier by changing their natures, there is no inherent harm in doing so--unless the changes harm or endanger other animals, humans, or the environment.
Principle of Conservation of Welfare • Any animals that are generically engineered for human use or even for environmental benefit should be no worse off, in terms of suffering after the new traits are introduced into the genome than the parent stock was prior to the insertion of the new genetic material.
Likely Components to Regulate Genetic Engineering in Animals • Suffering of animals produced in genetic engineering research, either basic or commercially oriented, must be controlled. • No animal whose life violates the principle of conservation of welfare would be produced on a commercial level.
Transgenic Animal Models of Human Diseases • Social ethic of medicine will permit creating transgenic animal models of human genetic (and other) diseases, insofar as they remain the only way of understanding such diseases and of developing strategies to avoid or cure them. • Yet, this seems to violate the principle of conservation of welfare, where offspring are created that are significantly worse off then their parent stock, and created in large numbers. • Rollins sees the only way out of this dilemma to be the production of animal models in which the obliteration of all subjective experience of the animal models, the total elimination of consciousness, is achieved. He is involved in a protocol seeking production of decerebrate lines, induction of permanent coma, involve a kind of euthanization of the feeling animal but keeping the animal vegetatively alive.
Conclusion • The Frankenstein Syndrome is recommended as a provocative way to think about the emerging new animal ethic, and should be widely read and discussed in animal research laboratories. It provides a wealth of non-defensive ways of responding to the public’s suspicions about science, and of quieting the tendency of the public to convict science of unfeeling disregard for what the public is coming to perceive as the rights of animals.
Other Reading • Peter Singer, Animal Liberation: A New Ethic for our Treatment of Animals (New York: Random House, 1975) • Office of Technology Assessment, Alternatives to Animal Use in Research, Testing, and Education. (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce, NTIS, February 1986)
Andrew N. Rowan, Of Mice, Models, & Men: A Critical Evaluation of animal Research (Albany: State University of New York press, 1994) • Tom Regan, The Case for Animal Rights (Berkeley: The University of California Press, 1983) • John A. Krasney, “Some Thoughts on the Value of Life: Physicians need to be concerned about increased attacks on animal research by anti-vivisectionists,” Buffalo Physician, Sept 1984: 6-13.
Michael Allen Fox, The Case for Animal Experimentation: An Evolutionary and Ethical Perspective (Berkeley: university of California press, 1986) • Daisie Radner and Michael Radner, Animal Consciousness (Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1989). • Rosemary Rodd, Biology, Ethics and Animals (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990) • James Rachels, Created from Animals: the Moral Implications of Darwinism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990)
Charles S. Nicoll, “A Physiologist’s Views on the Animal Rights/Liberation Movement,” The Physiologist vol. 34, no. 6 (1991): 303-315 • Donald R. Griffin, Animal Minds (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992) • Lorens Otto Luterere and Margaret Sheffield Simon, The Anatomy of an Animal Rights Attack (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1992)
Rod and Patti Strand, The Hijacking of the Humane Movement (Wilsonville, Ore.: Doral, 1993) • Kathy Snow Guillermo, Monkey Business: The Disturbing Case that Launched the Animal Rights Movement (Bethesda, Md.: National Press, 1993) • F. Barbara Orlans, In the Name of Science: Issues in Responsible Animal Experimentation (New york: Oxford university Press, 1993)
Department of Justice and Department of Agriculture, “Congressional Report: The Animal Enterprise Act,” in The Physiologist, vol. 36, no. 6 (1993): 247-259. • Andrew N. Rowan, “The Benefits and Ethics of Animal Research,” Scientific American (February 1997): 79 • Neal D. Barnard and Stephen R. Kaufman, “Animal Research is Wasteful and Misleading,” Scientific American (February 1997): 80-82
Jack H. Botting and Adrian R. Morrison, “Animal Research is Vital to Medicine,” Scientific American (February 1997): 83-85 • Madhusree Mukerjee, “Trends in Animal Research,” Scientific American (February 1997):89-93