Gabfest of idiots

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Jenn: On Dec. 3, California state regulators refused to allow the sale of the first bio-engineered household pets, the zebra fish, that has a new fluorescent glow. They are being called GloFish and are expected to go on sale everywhere else in the U.S. starting in January. The zebra fish, which are normally black-and-silver, were inserted with genes from sea anemones or jellyfish in order to turn them red or green and give them the ability to glow under a black or ultraviolet light.

California, as it stands, is the only state that has a ban on genetically engineered species. This fish is of no exception to that law; therefore the ban pertains to the GloFish as well.

The part that blows my mind most about this issue is why would one want to alter a fish in order to sell it? Other than the obvious money issue, is it ethical to take a live species and genetically change it? Not at all. They aren’t using this technology for the greater good of our society; therefore I believe that the ban should remain.

Aaron: First off, I have to laugh at this mockery of a ban on glowing fish. We’re not talking about genetically altered food, which may cause cancer, or even cloning humans for organ harvesting. Fish that glow under black lights are harmless. I mean, if they were pikes that, if introduced to the wild, might have an adverse effect on the environment, then I could see a problem, but zebra fish? Chances are, they’d be an interesting attraction and might make for cool pets, thus creating a market for them. If we’re talking ethics, as long as it’s just fish, who cares? Only humans, in my eyes, are worth the ethical debate. As for fish, they’re lowly organisms with short life-spans that we as humans sell for pets anyway. What difference does it make if they glow or not?

Jenn: Whoa, wait a minute. Who are we to say that humans are the only species worth ethical debate? That is absurd, because if dogs were genetically “enhanced” to have pig tails or horse hoofs just for looks, I highly doubt people would be jumping up and down for joy over it. And, although zebra fish are not exactly on a high priority list of animals that humans love or desire, the fact of the matter is, we should not be using such an advanced technology so carelessly. Who’s to even say these fish will be great sellers? And if they aren’t, then what a waste of time and money put into a useless product when it could be better used for a more worthy cause, such as using that same technology to research the possibility of creating human organs for those who need kidney or heart transplants. I’m not against the science in this case- I’m against the carelessness and the time being wasted on such an experiment.

Aaron: You make a great argument, but why should consumers care about whether or not they sell well? Fish are fish; one could buy 12 for a dollar at any pet shop. It’s not like the GloFish retailers are going or not going to make millions off this animal. They might make five dollars off of each fish, which, in that case, is not a whole lot of money. As far as the debate goes, we’re talking about fish here. People value dogs and cats at a much higher level than fish, and I highly doubt that genetic engineers will go through the trouble of altering dog tails for pig tails. Besides, who’s to say we have the right to breed dogs to make new kinds of dogs? We do it anyway. On the forefront of the many uses of this genetically altering technology, there’s no doubt we’re using it for more worthy considerations like medicine, but the marketability of this technology is vast, as are its uses. Why should we stop at the medicinal level, when there are so many other applications such as creating new pets?

Jenn: Why should we stop at the marketable values? Well, here’s why; because when we start fixating on the marketable value of this kind of technology, then it’s a bad preview of what is to come. We won’t just stop there, and believe me, there’s more on its way, I’m sure. When we start altering the evolution of animals and their genetics, we become too powerful. It’s not just a fish issue anymore, is the principal of the matter and although technology can be good, we must remember that it has its very bad side effects. Altering fish simply for use as a pretty pet is not ethical and there really is no need for it. I understand that you don’t value fish, but you have to look at the greater picture here. It is not just about this zebra fish anymore. It becomes the issue of abusing technology to make money when it should be used only for medical reasons.