Friday, September 05, 2008

Invisible genetic programming

If you are commitment phobic…or simply like to have your cake and eat it too…you have one more reason to be afraid…very afraid.

Scientists studying voles (mouse-like rodents) discovered that transferring a single gene, the vasopressin receptor, from the monogamous prairie vole into the brain's reward centre of a promiscuous meadow vole, would cause that meadow vole to become monogamous.

Meanwhile, Swedish scientists have studied more than 500 twins and their spouses/domestic partners and have come to find that the vasopressin gene seems to have a similar effect on humans. “The researchers found that men with a particular variant of the AVPR1A gene (that codes for vasopressin in humans) scored lower on the bonding questions and were less likely to be married compared to men who did not have the variant…Also, men with two copies of the gene variant were twice as likely to report having had a relationship crisis with their marital spouse or partner in the last 12 months as men without the variant.”

This discovery does not bode well for the playa and his exclusivity-seeking partner. In the vole study, the gene was not transferred through surgery, it was transferred via a “harmless virus.” OK, speaking only for myself, I find it a little scary that genetic engineering can be so easily…and transparently…effected. And, considering that this particular gene implantation completely changed the social life of the recipient vole, spectres of social engineering via undetectable gene transfers loom in the mind.

I’m not coming out against genetic engineering…it’s a valuable tool that may one day be used to reverse such devastating conditions as autism…but I find myself greatly relieved that the religious right-wing nuts are so vehemently opposed to this kind of science…um, well, science in general, actually. Otherwise we could look forward to the country being flooded by a spate of “harmless” viruses carrying engineered genes that will turn off our reasoning centres and turn on our sheeple tendencies, giving over control of the nation to right-wing theocrats.


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