There is no royal road to science and only those who do not dread of its fatiguing climb have a chance of gaining its luminuos summits.
-Karl Marx

Sep 9, 2010

Synthetic Cell and Ethics

Famous Marxist biologist J.B.S. Haldane said “There is no such great invention, from fire to flying, which has not been hailed as an insult to some god”. And the achievement by scientists of Craig Venter’s company has added qualitative insult to god’s reputation. Bourgeoisie media is furious over such insult of their hero and in anger have started defaming the experiment. They have declared it to be unethical and demand its immediate ban. But with advent of scientific and technological advance the materialist view of world has been justified and has deepened, shrinking the space for god in this material world to zero. This experiment also justifies the materialist conception that life is a quality of organic matter that arose in it in special conditions. Like were on earth billions of years ago. In this organic matter sustaining life consciousness arose. And the issue of human’s invasion in god’s territory is meaningless, as here man has shown through this experiment that life is no miracle or god’s matrix but is a special materialistic quality that is driven by chemical, biological, electrical, and various other materialistic processes. Here nothing is “unethical” but is just “materialistic”, it is just the spattering of bourgeoisie media to divert the attention from the actual implications this experiment brings.
In this experiment genome of bacteria M. mycoides was designed using computer. This requires the complete genetic mapping of genome of M. mycoides, which means knowledge of the every base sequence that genome has. Genome is the genetic material inside cell nucleus which has all the information for every function that a bacterial body or even a human body can perform. Blue heron company desiegned the genome using digital genome as model. This genome was assembled in four stages using 1078 bp long DNA cassettes that were synthesized using chemicals in stoichiometric amount under suitable conditions. A cassette is DNA’s small segment. Here cassettes of length 1078 bp were synthesized, bp is measure of length that is equivalent to 3.4 Å. (1 Å = .0000000001 metre). In first stage laboratory generated cassettes were inserted inside nucleus of yeast, where it weaves 1078bp long cassettes to 10,080 bp long. And in similar hierarchic fashion, in final stages, after various other processes of chemical purification and stabilization, the whole synthetic genome was generated inside the yeast. This synthetic genome was then transplanted into the restriction-minus nucleus of bacteria M. capricolum. The transplantation works. M. capricolum cell now functions to the dictates of genome of M. mycoides. The cell replicates self. This cell is similar to natural M. mycoides in almost all of its functions. Although scientists of Craig Venter’s company name it “synthetic cell” but here synthetic is only genome. But the experiment is a milestone in field of science. Scientists said that their aim is to create a synthetic cell that can do minimum functions of a natural cell. It has opened new horizons in field of biofuels and medical science, as the microorganisms can be created, with limitations, of desired function.
Synthetic Genomics, Craig Venter’s company, is said to have a contract with biofuel company Exxon to generate biofuels from algae. Exxon is even prepared to spend up to $600 million if all its milestones are met. Regarding this Dr. Venter said his group would try to build “an entire algae genome so we can vary the 50 to 60 different parameters for algae growth to make superproductive organisms”. The synthetic cell advancement could lead to the synthesis of algae cells that produce more plant oils than nature-made algae, boosting the per-acre biofuel yield of the feedstock. And this will result in cheaper oil. The ability to control the natural functions by varying genetic parameters in genome will lead into development of medicines which will be much effective and cheaper also. The reduction in cost of production will mean more profit by exploitng surplus from labour. This is the lifeblood of this experiment and many other experiment that are in operation today, profit, profit of few parasitic plunderers. But lately there has been a raise of voice against this experiment. So first let us have a look at these concerns.
First, there are some intellectuals who are asking for complete ban on this technology. Their logic is that the results of the experiment will fuel inventions of such dangerous weapons which will prove hazardous for our species. And they ask for ban on this technology to avoid its use in weapons. Their protest is parallel to the voices raised over the use of nuclear power. But this is like cutting head of Ravan. Ravan cannot be defeated this way. Every time you cut a head another grows. Only when hit in stomach can Ravan die. The question here is not of technology but the weapons that are being used. But the basic strength of this system is use of weapons. And every new technology is employed by it to develop weapons. Nuclear science, genome coding abolition is not the question here. It is romanticizing the past, to abolish every new technology in order to stop the development of weapons. Even if we impose the Stone Age technology, the system we live in will use that technology to develop weapons. In capitalism anarchic laws of capital are followed. Here relations between humans are not symbiotic but are polarized, are of exploitative kind. There is no chance of having relation between nature and humans to be symbiotic. It is also of exploitation. The mechanism of system uses every technology and natural forces to make profit and this profit is result of exploitation of large population. To stop the wars we will need to smash the machinery of this system. Abolishing technology is not solution. Humanity will move only towards future and in no way restoring the things of past can solve the problems we face today.
Another brand of N.G.O. groups and media groups are asking to stop the experiment immediately but to be started again only if it is regulated under government. They worry that some anti-social forces may equip this technique to make biological weapons and can cause mass scale massacre. They consider this experiment to be unethical at the present moment as anyone can access the technology. But this is not reality. All this worry and unethical concern in actual is loyalty of bourgeoisie media to its capitalist masters. Their ethics are limited to the boundaries of this system. To the boundaries of profit. However if we keep expectations from this unethical, unjustified and moribund system it will be sheer stupidity. Every year millions of innocent people die in imperialist wars. There is sufficient grain in stores but for sake of profit of private companies it is not distributed for free among the poor. This all is ethical. Here every ethic is in favour of this system. The very foundation of this system is plundering profit. The plundering bourgeois spiders trap and suck the common masses in the cut throat web created by capital. In this cut throat atmosphere these penny writers keep playing the flute of ethics in favor of their plundering bourgeois masters.
Leave alone the protests there are a lot of people who are counting benefits from the experiment. But even these claims do not hold water. To whatever extent science develops but it is still operated by laws of capital. And in this system, following these laws, the result is starvation, poverty and unemployment. Even if we develop efficient biofuels and better medicines, the mechanism of the system is such that large population remains bereft of these developments.
To sum up, this experiment is a big achievement in scientific area. Although like every new technology, it may also be installed on weapons and make wars more deadly, but this is the problem of this system and will solve when this system will be abolished.

Sep 2, 2010

If You are Young

Where spring is pulsating
Amidst violent autumn and desolate winter
That is where you belong
If you are young!
Where future-symphony is playing
Where dreams are on a journey to discover
Where audacious projects of approaching is being forged
Where memories are fuel,
Filled in the heart of workman’s furnace
Where restless hot air is giving momentum to life
You have to be there
If you are young!
Where life is being uprooted
Where living words are being murdered
And where verdicts are passed on voices
For incarceration and solitude,
Where exiled flora
And black baking rocks are present
Therse you are being awaited
If you are young!
Where barricades of resolves are being raised
Where bunkers of knowledge are being dug
Where flags of challenges are being unfurled
There is where you have to be deployed
If you are young!
-Shashi Prakash