Let ‘Us’ make man … ‘Us’ who?

As I saw President Clinton’s Press Conference, with British Prime Minister Tony Blair chiming in from afar, I was spellbound by the joyous announcement by America’s, and the Western World’s, Chief Executive that their scientists had successfully mapped the human genome, described by journalists as “the famous DNA strand of more than 3 billion chemical ‘letters’ that spell out instructions for how to build a human being.” Immediately, my mind traveled back some 35 years to a day when Brother Jabril Muhammad referred me to a particular passage in the Bible — 2Thessalonians, 2:3-4 —”Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God, sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God .”

This latest Biological advance is the subject of screaming headlines and radio and television specials all over the Earth: “DNA’S MAP COMPLETED”; “CLONED SHEEP CARRY MODIFIED GENE”.; “DECONSTRUCTING A CHROMOSOME”; “GENETIC CODE OF HUMAN LIFE IS CRACKED BY SCIENTISTS”.

One NEW YORK TIMES writer, Andrew Pollack, asked the question, in headline form, “Is Everything, Dead or Alive, for Sale?” His subhead read “Patenting a Human Gene As if It Were an Invention”. The Patent Office reports that Patent applications “are pending for more than half a million fragments of genes…” Mr. Pollack further points out that, “Earlier this year, for example, Human Genome Sciences, based in Rockville, Md., was granted a patent on a gene for a protein that turned out to serve as the entryway for the AIDS virus to infect cells.”

Other news reports claim that Dolly, a sheep that was cloned in a Scottish laboratory about four years ago, has produced two offspring. Scientists reportedly had been cloning such small creatures a mice for more than ten years, but the breakthrough on the larger animals moves them closer, they feel, to their ultimate goal — CLONING PEOPLE!

Writer Natalie Angier kind of sums up the situation in the June 27th issue of THE NEW YORK TIMES : “Yet, as any would-be-Edison soon discovers, it’s easier to deconstruct than reconstruct. And scientists are having a difficult time making sense of even the most basic springs and gears of the genome. They don’t yet know how many genes the three billion chemical letters hold, for example, with estimates ranging from a low of 25,000 to a high of 150,000.