Genetically-Engineered Human Have Already Been Born

Another chapter from my book, 50 Things You’re Not Supposed to Know, published in 2003, by Disinfo.

For more on me, please check out The Memory Hole.

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The earthshaking news appeared in the medical journal Human Reproduction under the impenetrable headline: “Mitochondria in Human Offspring Derived From Ooplasmic Transplantation.”

The media put the story in heavy rotation for one day, then forgot about it. We all forgot about it.

But the fact remains that the world is now populated by dozens of children who were genetically
engineered. It still sounds like science fiction, yet it’s true.

In the first known application of germline gene therapy — in which an individual’s genes are
changed in a way that can be passed to offspring — doctors at a reproductive facility in New
Jersey announced in March 2001 that nearly 30 healthy babies had been born with DNA from
three people: dad, mom, and a second woman. Fifteen were the product of the fertility clinic, with
the other fifteen or so coming from elsewhere.

The doctors believe that one cause for failure of women to conceive is that their ova contain old
mitochondria (if you don’t remember your high school biology class, mitochondria are the part of
cells that provides energy). These sluggish eggs fail to attach to the uterine wall when fertilized.
In order to soup them up, scientists injected them with mitochondria from a younger woman.
Since mitochondria contain DNA, the kids have the genetic material of all three parties. The DNA
from the “other woman” can even be passed down along the female line.

The big problem is that no one knows what effects this will have on the children or their progeny.
In fact, this substitution of mitochondria hasn’t been studied extensively on animals, never mind
Homo sapiens. The doctors reported that the kids are healthy, but they neglected to mention something crucial. Although the fertility clinic’s technique resulted in fifteen babies, a total of seventeen fetuses had been created.

One of them had been aborted, and the other miscarried.

Why? Both of them had a rare genetic disorder, Turner syndrome, which only strikes females.
Ordinarily, just one in 2,500 females is born with this condition, in which one of the X chromosomes is incomplete or totally missing. Yet two out of these seventeen fetuses had developed it.

If we assume that nine of the fetuses were female (around 50 percent), then two of the nine
female fetuses had this rare condition. Internal documents from the fertility clinic admit that this
amazingly high rate might be due to the ooplasmic transfer.

Even before the revelation about Turner syndrome became known, many experts were appalled
that the technique had been used. A responding article in Human Reproduction said, in a dry
understatement: “Neither the safety nor efficacy of this method has been adequately
investigated.” Ruth Deech, chair of Britain’s Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, told
the BBC: “There is a risk, not just to the baby, but to future generations which we really can’t
assess at the moment.”

The number of children who have been born as a result of this technique is unknown. The
original article gave the number as “nearly thirty,” but this was in early 2001. At that time, at least
two of the mutant children were already one year old.

Dr. Joseph Cummin, professor emeritus of biology at the University of Western Ontario, says that
no further information about these 30 children has appeared in the medical literature or the
media. As far as additional children born with two mommies and a daddy, Cummin says that a
report out of Norway in 2003 indicated that ooplasmic transfer has been used to correct
mitochondrial disease. He opines: “It seems likely that the transplants are going on, but very, very
quietly in a regulatory vacuum, perhaps.”

Reference: Genetically-Engineered Humans. Barritt, Jason A., et al. “Mitochondria in Human Offspring Derived From Ooplasmic Transplantation.” Human Reproduction, 16.3 (2001), pp 513-6. • Email communication from Dr. Joseph Cummins, 4 June 2003. • “First Cases of Human Germline Genetic Modification Announced.” British Medical Journal 322 (12 May 2001), p 1144. • “Genetically Modified Human Babies?” Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 8 May 2001. • Hawes, S.M., C. Sapienza, and K. E. Latham. “Ooplasmic Donation in Humans: The Potential for Epigenic Modifications.” Human Reproduction 17.4 (2002), 850-2. • Hill, Amelia. “Horror at ‘Three Parent Foetus’ Gene Disorders.” Observer (London), 20 May 2001.

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Look for more 50 Things You’re Not Supposed to Know under the tag “50 Things” on disinfo.com.

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  • tonyviner

    How do we know that the X-Men were not genetically engineered and Professor X played it off as though they were born that way without any sort of manipulation in order to gain support for his cause and to play on the sympathies of the weak-willed in his own selfish attempt to rid the world of Magneto?

    • ebwolf

      Then who engineered Professor X and Magneto?

      • tonyviner

        Dr. Doom. Comic books are complicated.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kevin-Stern/1407215229 Kevin Stern

    Welcome to the 21st century. Mutant babies are people too.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/KNS2UDSXYOFR5C3KCW2SYW3FLI Dolly Dagger

    My daughter was not intentionally genetically engineered, but since she is successfully competes in an extreme sport, I have to wonder how much of an effect that TS has made on her athletic ability.

    Google Kyla Sobieralski — she's real.

  • Tuna Ghost

    “Genetic engineering” is such a vauge term, I mean we've been engineering the genetics of animals (and people) in a very rudimentary (albeit efficient) way for literaly hundreds of years. Carrots weren't always orange, folks.

    • 5by5

      And back in the day, bananas didn't look the way they do now either, making Kirk Cameron's sermon on Creationism, all the more hilarious.

      • Tuna Ghost

        You know where else a bannana fits pretty perfectly? Your ass, Cameron. You know what else fits pretty perfectly there? My dick.

        • peeping tom

          only if he has a very very tight arse

  • Sonya Trejo

    Yeah, so? My friend is pregnant with a genetically engineered baby. So what? Her baby is going to be free of the cancer gene she and her husband were born with. Oooh, that's so TERRIBLE. Genetically engineered humans have been around since test tube babies. Hello? Dozens of such babies? Try THOUSANDS.

    The paper title is not “inpenetrable” it's TECHNICAL. Maybe if you studied science, rather than cowering from it, you'd understand it.

  • Danae

    Hey! I know this article is old but I wanted to post anyway.

    I just wanted to point out that while you are correct that only 1 in 2500 females are born with Turner Syndrome, 98% of fetuses conceived with Turner Syndrome result in spontaneous abortion. It has been suggested that as much as 10% of ALL miscarriages may be attributed to Turner Syndrome alone.

    So if only 2% of babies make it to birth and those 2% make up 1 in 2500 females, just think what the statistics would be if the other 98% survived as well.

    My point is, maybe 2 out of 17 is pretty realistic after all in terms of the frequency of with which fetuses with Turner Syndrome are conceived.

  • Danae

    Hey! I know this article is old but I wanted to post anyway.

    I just wanted to point out that while you are correct that only 1 in 2500 females are born with Turner Syndrome, 98% of fetuses conceived with Turner Syndrome result in spontaneous abortion. It has been suggested that as much as 10% of ALL miscarriages may be attributed to Turner Syndrome alone.

    So if only 2% of babies make it to birth and those 2% make up 1 in 2500 females, just think what the statistics would be if the other 98% survived as well.

    My point is, maybe 2 out of 17 is pretty realistic after all in terms of the frequency of with which fetuses with Turner Syndrome are conceived.

  • Dan Mac

    human and alien/human hybrids have been genetically modified for thousands of years: http://www.starchildproject.com/dna2010.htm

  • Dan Mac

    human and alien/human hybrids have been genetically modified for thousands of years: http://www.starchildproject.com/dna2010.htm

  • WikiLeaks

    Science is not an exactitude like physics is, science means “I don’t
    know that the fcuk I’m doing and I’m morbidly curious about what my tiny
    little brain doesn’t understand”, along with the majority of our food
    chain being altered to take over the natural strains, with the
    intentions of the designers to modify our food in such a way that it
    makes us even dumber (like they themselves are),. we now have 30 people
    spreading genes that are highly likely to have anything significant
    removed.

    As the physicist who proved quantum theory I’d like to let it be known
    that I do not want to be reborn inside a fat dumb-ass corporate American
    genetically altered slave gimp exactly 1.5 lifetimes after I die next!.

    What gives corporations the right to permanently alter millions of years
    of evolution in our food chains and then release these alterations in
    to the food supply fully knowing that they designed there new versions
    to damage people and taker over naturally existing strains.

    A line needs to be drawn, this is war on people and life itself, I did
    not give them permission to buttfcuk my world, I did not have a vote or
    say over this and this is enough of a reason for other countries in the
    world to ‘liberate’ America of its illegal government who have been
    raping this planet for over 200 years while they sponge loans off of the
    rest of the world to feed there fat ass.

    Clearly the average American is not capable of taking up the
    constitution and wiping there own ass, therefore we are now forced to do
    even that for them as well, unless YOU want these people to rape whats
    left of your world while there shadow government not only rape and
    murder American children, but start taking yours.

    Science is not physics!.

  • WikiLeaks

    Science is not an exactitude like physics is, science means “I don’t
    know that the fcuk I’m doing and I’m morbidly curious about what my tiny
    little brain doesn’t understand”, along with the majority of our food
    chain being altered to take over the natural strains, with the
    intentions of the designers to modify our food in such a way that it
    makes us even dumber (like they themselves are),. we now have 30 people
    spreading genes that are highly likely to have anything significant
    removed.

    As the physicist who proved quantum theory I’d like to let it be known
    that I do not want to be reborn inside a fat dumb-ass corporate American
    genetically altered slave gimp exactly 1.5 lifetimes after I die next!.

    What gives corporations the right to permanently alter millions of years
    of evolution in our food chains and then release these alterations in
    to the food supply fully knowing that they designed there new versions
    to damage people and taker over naturally existing strains.

    A line needs to be drawn, this is war on people and life itself, I did
    not give them permission to buttfcuk my world, I did not have a vote or
    say over this and this is enough of a reason for other countries in the
    world to ‘liberate’ America of its illegal government who have been
    raping this planet for over 200 years while they sponge loans off of the
    rest of the world to feed there fat ass.

    Clearly the average American is not capable of taking up the
    constitution and wiping there own ass, therefore we are now forced to do
    even that for them as well, unless YOU want these people to rape whats
    left of your world while there shadow government not only rape and
    murder American children, but start taking yours.

    Science is not physics!.

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