For good or ill, the first genetic engineering of a human embryo is one more mental adjustment in a year of Herculean mental adjustments. And 2001 started off so boring.
The embryo, developed by the daringly named Advanced Cell Technology, Inc., will be used exclusively for farming stem cells, not to create a full-fledged human being. Its birthplace, Worcester, Massachusetts, is one of countless reasons the embryo should not be allowed to develop eyes.
One confusing and ill-considered outcome of the watershed advance is the impending “embryo shower.” Advanced Cell Technology, Inc. may encourage friends and relatives to consult the gift registries at Toys ‘R Us and The Nature Store, in the hopes of avoiding multiple petri dishes. Furthermore, the sex of the embryo is undetermined, as it has not been allowed to develop genitalia. Blankets, playful wallpaper, stuffed animals, and lab decorations should therefore be green or purple, rather than traditional pink or blue.
The work of Advanced Cell Technology, Inc. does not violate federal restrictions as the firm is privately funded, with no reliance on U.S. tax dollars for its operations. Washington has ruled that taxpayers’ money should be funneled into less dubious endeavors, such as billion-dollar campaigns against elusive individuals, and combating the paralyzing anthrax pandemic which has already claimed upwards of five lives.
Scientists consider the advance a great step forward in the treatment of diseases such as diabetes and Parkinson’s. Michael J. Fox, celebrity crusader in the fight against Parkinson’s disease, has dismissed the muddy ethical implications of creating human embryos for medical purposes, arguing that the benefits to be reaped outweigh the cost of sowing. Fox is known for his work on Family Ties and Spin City.
Industrial Light and Magic will scramble to create their own human embryos for the so-called Phase 3 of George Lucas’s plan to revolutionize filmmaking. Phase 1, the computer-generated character Jar Jar Binks, was quickly followed by Lucas’s decision to shoot Star Wars: Episode II entirely on digital film. Genetically engineered actors are the next logical step. The first glimpse of Phase 3, known as a “teaser embryo,” should appear in the months preceding the 2002 release of Episode II: Attack of the Clones. The recent advances constitute a clear case of “art imitating art,” or “life imitating life,” or “stuff imitating Lucas.” Lucas exploded onto the forefront of popular cinema in 1977 by introducing the first artificially-created dialogue and plot lines, now a staple of 21st century American filmmaking.
John Cougar Mellencamp will organize Farm Aid 2002 to benefit stem cell farmers, the underpaid “working class” of the scientific community. The concert will coincide with the release of his new single, “Little Pink Embryos.” One-hundred percent of the single’s proceeds will go to stem cell farming relief funds.
Michael Stipe of R.E.M. will spend the coming weeks reading magazines and painting picket signs for numerous anti-pro marches in Athens, Georgia. Watchdog Michael Moore will quote Noam Chomsky, Chomsky will quote himself, and independent websites the world over will link to the pair’s famously unbiased essays. The Beastie Boys will continue to rap about Tibet.
Cloning technology will represent a new facet of the Evil West. Its possession will therefore become the holy obligation of every living Muslim.
The White House will comment eventually. God will not.