THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN
JOINED BY: PATRICK BUCHANAN, LEE SILVER,
JEREMY RIFKIN, AND KAREN H. ROTHENBERG
TAPED FRIDAY, AUGUST 7, 1998
AIRED THE WEEKEND OF AUGUST 29-30, 1998
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ANNOUNCER: From the nation's capital, the McLaughlin Group, an unrehearsed program presenting inside opinions and forecasts on major issues of the day. "GE is proud to support the McLaughlin Group. From aircraft engines to appliances, GE: We bring good things to life."
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Genetic knowledge is increasing day by day. What will we do with the awesome power unleashed? That's the critical issue of this program. Joining Pat Buchanan and myself are Karen Rothenberg, director of the Law and Health Care Program at the University of Maryland; Jeremy Rifkin, author of "Biotech Century," and president of the Foundation on Economic Trends; and Dr. Lee Silver, author of "Remaking Eden: Cloning and Beyond in a Brave New World," and professor of genetics at Princeton University.
Issue one: Better Living Through Genetics.
In 1994, researchers uncovered the gene that causes cystic fibrosis in children and young adults. In 1996, researchers discovered that a "happy disposition" is genetically determined. In 1998, researchers found a gene that is linked to Alzheimer's disease. There is even a genetic defect, the extra Y chromosome, that may cause violent and criminal behavior.
As the mapping of the human gene code grows, it will eventually give mankind the knowledge to eliminate many hereditary physical and mental deficiencies. Scientists call this ability to change human nature a, quote, "enhancement to the germ line," unquote.
To many, this human genetic engineering looks more like genetic cleansing. That is why the United Nations and the Council of Europe wants germ line enhancements banned.
Not all bioethicists agree that enhancements are inherently bad. Arthur Kaplan (sp), director of the University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics, says, quote, "Some genetic diseases are so miserable and awful that at least some genetic intervention with the germ line seems obligatory," unquote.
Thousands of diseases, from muscular dystrophy to cancer, are genetically induced. More than 12 million Americans have genetically-caused birth defects.
Question: When are genetic enhancements justified? I ask you, Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, I would tend to agree with Dr. Kaplan (sp). I think there are some diseases, like Down's Syndrome and muscular dystrophy, which, if you could intervene and prevent these, it would be a good. I think knowledge is a good thing, technology is a good thing. It depends on how it's used.
But clearly the potential for evil here is enormous. You're really approaching the Garden of Eden, where the great temptation was "Ye shall be as gods."
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, there's no surprise that knowledge can be used for -- with evil intent and effect, with good intent and effect, with unexpected consequences effect. Isn't that right, Dr. Silver?
MR. SILVER: That's correct. Technology is neither good nor bad; it's the use of technology. I would agree with Pat that this technology is going to be used because parents want to make sure their children are born happy and healthy, and this technology can allow parents to correct certain genetic defects which could cause harm to their children.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Some of the problems that the average person has with genetic testing is that it could lead to discrimination, Karen Rothenberg, Dr. Rothenberg, whether it's a matter of health insurance or life insurance. There are a couple of hundred documented cases of discrimination. Do you come across that? And what are your feelings about discrimination if there is genetic testing?
MS. ROTHENBERG: Well, I think that all of us have predispositions to certain genetic diseases, so it's an issue that would actually affect all of us.
There is discrimination, clearly, for individuals in our society. The decision in fact to test for certain diseases may mean that some people are deemed better than other people. And that's what I worry about, actually, when we use the word "enhancement," because to me, is -- somebody that's short needing to be taller, where someone that's bald wants a lot of hair -- they're the easy cases, I think. When you're talking about diseases, I think it gets harder to define.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the misinterpretation of data? Does that sometimes occur? Can you speak to that, Jeremy?
MR. RIFKIN: Well, the real problem here is, who draws the line as to what is a defect and a disease, and what isn't? If a parent could eliminate sickle cell anemia or Tay-Sachs, sure, they're going to do that in the sperm and the egg.
But what if you're to tell the prospective parent we can eliminate a genetic predisposition for manic depression, or for obesity, or the gene for short stature, or for dyslexia? I don't know of any parent that wouldn't want to take advantage of these technologies if they could afford it. The problem is, once you begin programming your child, it's the ultimate shopping experience, and the parent becomes the architect for life, and if that child is born that's not engineered, we're likely to look at that child who's naturally born, if they have some developmental disability, as a mistake that should have been avoided. Then we're into eugenics.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lee Silver, do you see a little alarmism there in Jeremy's concern that this is going to be pushed beyond a genetic drug correction stage?
MR. SILVER: Yeah, I certainly agree that it could be pushed. But the question is, who has the control? Should it be the parents who decide what genes to give to their children, or should it be the state? I happen to believe --
MS. ROTHENBERG: Or the market.
MR. SILVER: Or the market. Well, that's the parents.
MR. RIFKIN: But you see, I think the most chilling prospect of all is letting the parents and the marketplace decide the future evolutionary movement of the human race because of their short-term decisions with their children. I think we have to take a look at the whole issue and ask: Do we want to make some collective political decision on whether or not we should proceed with engineering future generations of human beings?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, with regard to regulation, you know that the United Nations disapproves of germ line enhancements. And there are those who believe that the reason why the U.N. takes this position is because it is practically excluded from the Third World by reason of the costs and the sophistication involved. Therefore, what you would create is a Third World versus a First World claque. You follow me?
MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, I do.
MS. ROTHENBERG: Genetic (genocide ?).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Therefore, they're almost -- they're pretty much against it. What do you think of the U.N.'s position?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, first off, the U.N. is just a collective, John, and so I don't think very much of many of their positions.
But I do agree -- look, one of the real dangers here -- let's take -- if there's a proclivity in the gene or something like that towards homosexuality, and parents go looking for this, are they going to have search and destroy operations, basically abortions of all children, unborn children, that have this gene and other genes --
MR. SILVER: But they could do that before then.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, I know. They're already doing it in sex selection. But we're asking the question, is this good and is this moral? What kind of society are we building?
MR. SILVER: But you can actually engineer the embryo and avoid the abortion debate altogether.
MR. RIFKIN: But imagine how this is going to change parent-child relationships. The fact that a parent can begin to actually program the kind of child that they will create. It's going to create tremendous intergenerational conflict. And we're likely to be very intolerant of any child who's less than perfect. Of course, who decides what's perfect? I don't think any parent could really make a good decision as to what a perfect baby should look like.
MS. ROTHENBERG: I think --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Karen Rothenberg, would you advise the betrothed, the man and the woman betrothed, to take a genetic test as a kind of a high-tech dating service, the ultimate -- (laughter) -- the ultimate dating service, to discover whether there are any genes in them which they might not wish to pass on to their children, which could, if found now, perhaps be provided for?
MS. ROTHENBERG: Yeah, it seems to me that if two people together want to get information before they get married, so be it. I think it could create a lot of tensions in relationships, a lot of expectations, a lot of duties, which I believe are going to be more on the woman than on the man.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you --
MS. ROTHENBERG: If we know all our history of prenatal testing, that's where the market is. And so I think it's going to be women that are going to feel they may need to get this information.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you counseled anybody who had psychological bad experiences from having discovered something through genetic testing?
MS. ROTHENBERG: Actually, there's a lot of recent data showing that in families that have gotten tested for predispositions to diseases -- one has something, one doesn't have the mutation -- creates a lot of interesting issues about --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Who, if anyone, should regulate germ line enhancements, Pat Buchanan?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, I think something's going to have to be done at the federal government level of the United States.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're not talking about the FDA, are you?
MR. BUCHANAN: I would -- (laughs) -- I would -- that's strong --
MS. ROTHENBERG: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't want those bureaucrats involved, do you?
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.) But no, I mean, look, certainly not the U.N., John. Let's start with them. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. How about the Congress?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, the Congress -- look, if they're going to do anything, it would have to first go through the Congress and the president. Basically, that is the way society makes its decisions, and probably the best way.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who, if anyone? I ask you, Karen Rothenberg.
MS. ROTHENBERG: Right now we actually have some -- in this country, in our country, the recombinant DNA advisory committee, by voluntary moratorium, the scientists have said, "No germ line" --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's fine. But do you want any regulation at the government level? Do you see any, and where would you want it?
MS. ROTHENBERG: I think, in the future, if it's going to happen, it will have to be at the federal level.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Jeremy?
MR. RIFKIN: Well, I think we should say absolutely no to germ line therapy. I've been saying that for 15 years. We're coming very close to it now. The first trials are maybe a year and a half away. Our Congress has been passive. They refuse to act. And this is one of the great issues confronting the human race: Do we engineer future generations --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, on the human cloning level, that's going to change next year.
What do you say to this, Lee?
MR. SILVER: I wouldn't want a congressman telling me that I can't give my child a gene that will cure its asthma. I think it's up to the parents.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Gene, I'm with you.
When we come back, will our increasing genetic knowledge open a treasure chest of golden benefits, or will it open a Pandora's box?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Brave New Millennium.
In 1953 deoxyribonucleic acid -- better known as DNA -- was identified and described for the first time with the double helix model. Not only is the DNA molecule found in every living thing on Earth, but life itself -- so say the molecular biologists -- is nothing more than a DNA chain reaction.
Ever since the discovery of DNA's structure, a parallel science has been developing, with astounding speed: cybernetics. As mankind's understanding of the role of DNA grew over the past 45 years, so did the speed and power of computers.
These two sciences have now come together in a $3 billion global research undertaking coordinated by the National Institutes of Health. Its name is the Human Genome Project. Its goal is nothing less than to transcribe the entire human genetic code -- some 100,000 genes -- which controls human life. Some time between 2001 and 2005, scientists will have mapped the human genome, permitting mankind of modify the very structure of human life.
Already geneticists use their new DNA knowledge for purposes as varied as developing freeze-resistant soybean crops, by transferring the antifreeze gene from Arctic fish to soy plants.
Question: What is it that we are opening, Ali Baba's cave of golden treasures, or Pandora's box, Jeremy Rifkin?
MR. RIFKIN: Well, first of all, it's certain golden treasure for the companies that are pushing this research. For example -- you mentioned the Human Genome Project -- in the next 10 or 15 years we'll identify virtually every single gene that makes the genetic blueprints for the human race -- some 60,000 or so genes, and every one of those will be the intellectual property of a life science company, meaning they will own the patents on the blueprints for the human race. Now that's real commercial power.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who do you want to own it? Who do you want to own it?
MR. RIFKIN: Well, I don't --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would you agree with the U.N. that it should be -- it should be in the --
MR. RIFKIN: No, absolutely not. I think the gene pool should stay open. It's a commons. It should be -- the scientific research should be shared. It should not be reduced to intellectual property by governments or companies, because if we do that, John, if we start dividing this up, this new resource, which is the key resource of the 21st century, we're going to have gene wars, just as we had wars over fossil fuels and minerals.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you heard of someone by the name of Craig Vintor (sp)?
MR. RIFKIN: Yes --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I ask you, Lee.
MR. SILVER: Yes. He has basically taken the Human Genome Project away from the government into a private business, where it's going to be done much more quickly and effectively.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Three hundred million dollars he has at his disposal, correct?
MR. SILVER: Right. That's correct.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's looking for the sequence to the DNA of mankind. Is that right?
MR. SILVER: Yes, that's right.
MS. ROTHENBERG: That's --
MR. SILVER: That information is going to be used by biotech companies to produce products that are going to increase the health and happiness of human beings.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he's not going to be able to restrict the application of the knowledge that he develops, is he?
MS. ROTHENBERG: Sure.
MR. RIFKIN: Sure.
MR. SILVER: Well, this is the question. The information by itself is worthless. It's how you use the information.
MS. ROTHENBERG: But --
MR. RIFKIN: If he has a patent on it, he can absolutely restrict it. He uses it --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that your principal objection to --
MR. RIFKIN: That's only one objection. I think it's outrageous that we are treating the evolutionary blueprints of life as if they were human inventions, when in fact they're discoveries of nature. He didn't invent any of these genes. He shouldn't have a patent on them.
MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah.
MS. ROTHENBERG: When we sold the Human Genome Project to the American taxpayer, when Congress said, "We're going to pay for it," it was with the basis that this was going to be to benefit us.
MR. RIFKIN: Right.
MS. ROTHENBERG: It was going to have medical benefit. It wasn't to make companies rich. And I think it's a really important public policy debate that we figure out, if we're going to pay for this Human Genome Project to move forward, how are we going to share this information to everybody's benefit? It's --
MR. RIFKIN: John, I'm going to tell you something that's going to surprise you and Pat, especially Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: Right.
MR. RIFKIN: You know Dr. Wilmut, who cloned the sheep? He has a patent application into the U.S. Patent Office. It includes a patent on the process for cloning. All animals that are cloned would be his patent -- would be his intellectual property. And as an addenda, it includes human embryos; any cloned human embryo would be considered the intellectual property of his company as a patent invention.
MR. BUCHANAN: But the only --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lee? Lee, do you want to speak to that effort -- (laughter) -- on the part of Dr. Wilmut? Is he going to have any success in getting that patent
MR. SILVER: He'll get the patent --
MR. RIFKIN: No, he won't get the patent --
MR. RIFKIN: Oh, absolutely, because the Patent Office has ruled that the only thing you can't patent is a full-birth human being because the 13th Amendment forbits slavery, but they've made it clear an embryo's not counted under the legal statutory decision --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We all are agreed -- do we not -- before we get too much absorbed in the commercial aspects of this issue; we believe that -- say, for example, the cystic-fibrosis gene was discovered in 1993. Correct?
MR. SILVER: Eighty-seven --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eighty-seven. Okay. It was discovered in '87, and this has now enabled us to prevent a number of deaths from cystic fibrosis, which is a horrible form of suffocation --
MR. SILVER: Absolutely.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- with mucus filling the lungs --
MR. SILVER: Absolutely.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- so that you cannot breathe. So we are in favor of that, are we not?
MR. RIFKIN: Well, here is the downside. We're now learning from our scientists that as a recessive gene, we now believe cystic fibrosis may prevent typhoid fever. There may be all sorts -- sickle-cell anemia is a recessive gene.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. We have got to get out. I want to move onto the next issue.
Exit: On balance, does the Human Genome Project hold more peril than promise or more promise than peril? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: I think clearly it's more promise than peril, but the perils are great.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Karen?
MS. ROTHENBERG: I agree.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Jeremy?
MR. RIFKIN: The science is invaluable. The real question is not the science but how will we apply it technologically, and will we take the high path with real dangers involved, or a more soft-path approach, which may be more humane for future generations? For example --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What does that translate to, Jerry, more peril or promise?
MR. RIFKIN: I'll give you an -- (laughter) -- more promise, if we use it in a way that's remedial.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lee? Lee.
MR. SILVER: Lots of promise along with peril.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is more promise.
Issue three, genetic healing.
Drugs and medications, based on genetic research, are called genetic pharmacology. It is one of the fastest-growing applications of biogenetics. AIDS is only one area where genetically engineered drugs are already in use.
Item: Children with a genetic defect that produces dwarfism can now be treated with a synthetic growth hormone.
Item: Diabetics who are allergic to animal-protein-based insulin can now get genetically engineered human insulin.
Item: Cancer and hepatitis patients' lives are now being saved by artificially created interferon.
Item: Allergy sufferers may soon find relief from a medication now in clinical trials which genetically blocks the body's immune system from triggering an allergic response.
Question: Can we enjoy the benefits of genetic pharmacology and still avoid the risks of genetic manipulation, Dr. Karen Rothenberg?
MS. ROTHENBERG: Yes, if we in fact have in place good public policies for protecting people's privacy, confidentiality (and end discrimination ?).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Name one disease where genetics has played a problem in relieving the disease?
MS. ROTHENBERG: Well, I am actually more worried that we're focusing so much on genetic testing that it's taking us away from looking at treatments. Look at Tay-Sachs. We haven't put one penny into the treatment of Tay-Sachs since we found a test. Look at -- I mean, that's what I am concerned about.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about breast cancer? Isn't the future of breast-cancer control in the hands, not of chemotherapists and not in the hands of those who conduct mammograms, but really in the hands of molecular biologists proceeding, not down a somatic therapy path, but a germ-line path? Is that a perfect setup for you, Lee Silver?
MR. SILVER: That is a perfect setup.
I think that if people are going to be looking at the genes in their embryos anyway, they are certainly going to want to give their daughters-to-be protection against breast cancer.
MR. RIFKIN: But you know, here is the problem here with this. It's not that simple. You can have a genetic predisposition for breast cancer, colon, prostate cancer, diabetes, but we also know that the environment that you grow up in can trigger that disease, if you are a heavy drinker or a smoker or you eat poorly.
So by concentrating so much on making people well after they're sick, we don't put enough attention on using this same science for preventive health, which would be cheaper and would have fewer ethical problems involved with it, even if the marketplace doesn't want to do it.
MR. SILVER: That may be true. People want a quick fix.
MS. ROTHENBERG: (Inaudible.)
MR. RIFKIN: But we have got to move beyond that. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue four: The forever-young Einstein.
MAX HEADROOM (animated-feature character): (From videotape.) This is M-m-max Headroom.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A decade ago, when the British television sci-fi sitcom "Max Headroom" featured a human identity, which dwelt in the computer memory of a futuristic television network, it seemed like an outrageous fiction. That fiction is no longer so outrageous.
Get this. Here's a scenario in which a fuller understanding of genetics, plus increases in computer power, mean we can create a quote, unquote, "infomorph"; that is, a virtual person, a real-life Max Headroom.
Here is how Charles Platt (sp) of Wired magazine says it would work: Estimates of the human brain's intellectual processing power suggest that it runs at about 1 quadrillion synapse operations each second, far beyond the capacity of today's computers. But if computing power continues its present rate of doubling every 18 months, by the year 2020, computers will match human brains in processing power.
Current computer memory is already adequate to match human memory. What remains is to understand, and be able to replicate, all of the interactions of a living organism. When the inner workings and interactions of DNA are understood and this knowledge is applied to a computer model, it becomes theoretically possible for a computer to take on a living identity; Albert Einstein, for example, whose brain has been stored since his death with his DNA readily available. Combine the nurture part of Einstein with the nature part, and an intellectually vibrant "infomorph" of Albert Einstein could be brought back to life forever.
Question: Will an understanding of DNA help us create a new form of artificial computer intelligence? I ask you, Lee Silver.
MR. SILVER: I think eventually it will. I don't know if it's going to be 20 years, but there's thousands of years ahead of us. And eventually, I think it'll happen.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the toughest step in replicating a human identity from DNA and computer science?
MR. SILVER: We have no idea how the mind comes out of the brain at the moment. And so the question is, "When are we going to gain that information?"
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There's a nurture side, and there is the nature side. The nature side is the DNA; the nurture side is the trillions, the quadrillions of experiences that you have.
MR. RIFKIN: That's the point.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Those have to be input before we can have a true "infomorph." Will that ever come about?
MR. RIFKIN: This is the point. You know, in the 1960s and '70s, we may have erred too much toward the nurture side, saying you're tabula rasa at birth. Now, we have molecular biologists and life-science companies going way to the other extreme, saying your genes wire you at birth. The fact is, it's a dance between the two.
MS. ROTHENBERG: Well, it's what makes a human.
MR. RIFKIN: And it seems -- it makes a human, but I think what we need to understand here is the information and life sciences are coming together to create this powerful --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would you, as an individual, permit yourself to be made into a virtual clone of yourself through a kind of "infomorph" that we have described here, through the wedding of the potential of the computer and through your DNA, while you're living?
MS. ROTHENBERG: God help.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughter.) You would not want that?
MS. ROTHENBERG: Absolutely not!
MR. SILVER: This is the quest for immortality.
MR. RIFKIN: But you know --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean Einsten would live on? (Laughter.)
MR. SILVER: Well, Einstein's too late.
MR. RIFKIN: But, Lee -- (cross talk).
MS. ROTHENBERG: I like myself, but only --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If you were confined within a computer, would your life -- in the manner described -- would your life be more of a heaven or a hell?
MR. SILVER: (Laughs.) I don't know.
MR. RIFKIN: But, John, this is exactly what motivates a lot of this science. And what we have are powerful tools that allow the life-science industry to play God -- to play God. And the ultimate expression of divine essence is to be able to create immortality. It's not going to happen, but it's a motivator.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hey, we are homo sapiens; therefore, we are given, necessarily, it seems to me, to innovation and to imaginative use of our resources.
MR. RIFKIN: Absolutely -- (cross talk).
MS. ROTHENBERG: (Inaudible.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We'll be right back with predictions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Forced prediction: Will there be human cloning anywhere in the world in the first decade of the new millennium? Pat Buchanan?
MR. BUCHANAN: It will be tried and fail.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Karen Rothenberg?
MS. ROTHENBERG: I think we may not know if it happens because it -- may fail first.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Jeremy?
MR. RIFKIN: Yes, we will see it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lee Silver?
MR. SILVER: Absolutely, we will see it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is it'll be underground at first, but it will occur during the first decade.
END OF REGULAR SEGMENT
PBS SEGMENT FOLLOWS
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue five: "Gene-ocide."
(Play short videotape.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Pentagon's precision weapons of the '90s may seem primitive compared to the new generation of armaments; genetic smart weapons.
Earlier in the decade, the Department of Defense backed away from plans to sample and store the DNA of every military recruit. But after the Pentagon's success in exhuming the remains of Lieutenant Michael Blassie from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and identifying them using a relative's DNA, many believe the Defense Department will resume building its DNA database.
Why? To design, quote, "gene bombs," unquote; biowarfare weapon that can be targeted on specific populations, so fears the (Rural ?) Advancement Foundation International, a group that accuses the U.S. of collecting the DNA of ethnic groups and indigenous populations for sinister purposes.
If practical, gene bombs would be precision-honed scalpels, the ultimate surgical strike weapon. They would make today's weapons of mass destruction look like meat axes in comparison.
Question: What's the military potential of genetic weapons, Dr. Lee Silver?
MR. SILVER: The genetic technology we have today is so powerful that the military could create viruses that were specific for individual ethnic groups.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about age groups?
MR. SILVER: Not for age groups but for ethnic groups. You can create a virus that goes for a certain person who has a certain gene.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do genetic weapons have the potential for mass destruction, do you think, Patrick Buchanan?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, obviously, if the doctor is right, they do. And it's a fundamental immoral weapon if you're using a weapon, which is to kill people of some ethnic group. Look, John, you (were you nearly in Iraq ?). You can only kill guilty parties in wartime who are offensive soldiers against you. You cannot kill individual civilians. I mean, that's what Dresden's all about.
MR. SILVER (?): That's the problem with genetic weapons; they're indiscriminate. And we should understand that our Pentagon has been looking at this research for years. And when you begin to place virulent genes into existing pathogens to make them more powerful, even if there is an accidental breach of security and an accident and it gets out of the lab, you've got a problem, even if you didn't mean to create one.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you make it sound as though you are against the Pentagon developing genetic weapons. You're not against it, are you?
MR. SILVER (?): Yes, I am, absolutely; I am against any military establishment in the world playing with us for either offensive or defensive purposes because once you create that organism, if it gets out, we're all stuck.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You want our potential adversaries to get an edge on us? Don't we have to develop genetic weapons?
MR. RIFKIN (?): I think it's immoral.
MR. SILVER (?): I do, too.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You do?
MR. RIFKIN (?): I do.
MR. SILVER: We have to defend ourselves --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Regardless of the potential of an adversary?
MR. SILVER: We have to defend ourselves --
MR. RIFKIN: But, Lee, when you defend yourself --
MR. SILVER: -- but we shouldn't be offensive.
MR. RIFKIN: -- you have to create the offensive agent before you can create the vaccine against it. And you're still (doing it ?).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you favor developing it as a potential against an enemy?
MR. RIFKIN (?): We don't need 'em.
MS. ROTHENBERG: I agree --
MR. SILVER (?): Agreed.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (So ?) we need an international --
MS. ROTHENBERG: -- totally unethical --