The world is changing. The question is whether or not we will realize it soon enough for any of us to make a single bit of difference. Behind the scenes, a debate has taken place about to what extent the People’s Republic of China has engaged in a controversial practice called gene-doping.
Gene-doping is a series of techniques for genetic manipulation and modification. You may have heard of it in the past as being called gene-therepy, a practice which manipulates genetics in order to help sick people. Whether you call it gene-doping or gene-therepy depends if you are using the techniques on a healthy person or a sick person, or the difference could simply lay in a moral judgement which you are making.
What are the potential benefits of gene-doping? Well, there are is a cocktail of possibilities.
Myostatin is a type of protein which regulates how much muscle fiber you can grow. Using myostatin inhibitors, a person could have super human strength. Studies have been done on cattle and greyhound dogs with a genetic disorder which limits how much myostatin they produce. These animals are sometimes called “double muscled” because they have such abnormally large muscles. Not many Special Operations soldiers would turn down the opportunity to become super human.
Some current research indicates that the ACTN3 gene may be a good target as sprinters seem to have it in greater frequency than average people. It has even been “dubbed the ‘speed gene’ and found in nearly every male Olympic sprinter ever tested” which makes this a high percentage gene to manipulate in order to make a soldier or athlete faster.
Two-time Finnish Olympic gold medalist, Eero Mäntyranta, was found to have rare genetic mutation years after winning the gold in skiing. It turned out that his family had excessively high responses to erythropoietin, meaning that Eero’s body had an abnormal amount of oxygen-carrying red blood cells. Some people are simply born with an abnormal but natural predisposition to elite sports. Like the double-muscled cattle and dogs, these genes can be manipulated and activated inside normal people, giving them almost super-human endurance.
The future is here. Whether or not we choose to acknowledge it is another matter.
In a feat that caused awe and controversy at the London Olympics, 16 year old Chinese swimmer, Ye Shiwen, came out of nowhere to win the Gold Medal in a World Record Breaking 400m swim performance. John Leonard, the highly respected American director of the World Swimming Coaches Association, described her performance as “unbelievable” and said that authorities should check to see “if there is something unusual going on in terms of genetic manipulation…” (Duke University)
While American laws, regulations, and ethics have largely precluded us from experimenting with gene-doping, other countries are not so squeamish. Some believe that China is now in the process of the world’s largest human eugenics experiment, a nation wide experiment which incorporates everything from the one child policy, to human experimentation on athletes and soldiers.
The very real danger is that we are now on the cusp of a biological arms race. The past has shown us that arms races can drive us down paths we may not have anticipated going down, or may have never wanted to go down in the first place, but the fear of falling behind forced us to re-examine a previously held position. Nuclear weapons are one obvious example. A not-so-obvious example is remote viewing, a technique which some believe can allow a person to conduct psychic reconnaissance on a target thousands of miles away. The US military never wanted to get involved in something so esoteric, but Congress compelled the Army to comply and start a remote viewing program after learning how heavily invested the Soviets were in “psytronics,” or applied psycho-energetics.
This is the evolution revolution. The era of the super-operator. May the best man win.
(Featured Image Courtesy: Youtube)
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