Chapter 35 : A Little Learning…

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Scientists working with genetically modified organisms are, it seems, capable of spreading them into the outside world. The Greenpeace described that the genetically modified microbes splashed onto lab coats were hitherto thought to dry out and die. However, it was scarcely surprising that K-12 could sometimes be found on laboratory clothing. No one in their right senses has ever believed that pathogens can be prevented from escaping from laboratories by the outer garments worn by scientists and technicians, nor even by scrupulous laundering. The methodology used to find out what participants understood about biotechnology and related disciplines was crucially important. Nevertheless, public discussion and media coverage of cloning invariably focus on animals, including humans. This is the area that has seen the overwhelming weight of debate over the years since the birth of the sheep Dolly at the Roslin Institute in Scotland in 1997 and the ensuing worldwide calls for bans on human cloning. Dolly carried her father’s nuclear DNA but her mother’s mitochondrial DNA. This, combined with subsequent nurture and other factors, means that such clones are not exactly identical. Following the appearance of Dolly, researchers and bioethicists repeatedly emphasized that the specter of identical Hitlers is just that, a phantasm with no reality.

Citation: Dixon B. 2009. A Little Learning…, p 161-165. In Animalcules. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817442.ch35
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1. Canter Cremers, H.,, and H. Groot. 1991. Survival of E. coli K12 on Laboratory Coats Made of 100% Cotton. RIVM report no. 719102009. National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven, The Netherlands.
2. European Commission. 1998. The Europeans and Modern Biotechnology. European Commission, Brussels, Belgium.
3. Greenpeace. 1997. Genetic Engineering: Too Good To Go Wrong? Greenpeace, London, United Kingdom.

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