雖然染色體和基因是合成蛋白質的藍圖，但在這麼長的 DNA 鏈上，並不是所有部份在合成中均起作用，真正起作用的僅是一小部份。在不同的器官中以及在不同的環境下，起作用的部份是不一樣的。蛋白質的合成、細胞的再生是一個極複雜的過程，並不是由單一 DNA 鏈所決定，它取決於各種條件的緣起和合。人的心理因素，如情緒、習性等在其中就起了相當大的作用。人的健康與衰老與其心的負擔太重有密切的關係，生氣或憂傷都會使新陳代謝過程產生不正常，有時甚至是決定性的作用。基因工程所許諾的改進人類質量與健康是不可能實現的。有大量的心理學例子可說明這一點。
基因決定論的另一錯誤之點是基因結構不變論。但是最近 20 年的生物科學研究表明，基因的結構是動態的，能在與外界接觸中改變結構。而且能將這種結構改變傳給下一代。如果基因結構是經常變動的，那麼設計結構的意義就不大。從基因的性能與心理的關係，基因結構隨外界影響而變異的事實上，我們可以得出結論﹕人為地設計或改造基因結構是很難達到預期的目的。進一步看，目前人類對遺傳機理的理解是這麼淺薄，所謂的「預期的目的」只不過是一些揣測而已。在這樣層次上的基因工程怎麼能給人類帶來那些所宣揚的利益？也許更多的是災難吧！雖然在大量的試驗下，基因工程家得出不易腐爛的西紅柿（番茄）及一些其它產品，但這些產品對人類長期健康的影響目前並不清楚。許多農藥在剛發明時，人類也並不知它的危害。
Gene determinism says that gene structure determines everything about life. This theory is based on an incomplete view of things. It not only denies the mutual interaction between the body and mind, but also neglects the fact that genes survive through mutations. Buddhists know that body and mind are inseparable. They interact and influence each other. The structure and function of chromosomes and genes can change as the mind changes. It would be erroneous to reduce life to its material aspects. A person’s traits and health depend on his/her state of mind and environment as well as on gene structure. Thus the theory of gene determinism is merely a form of materialism and does not reflect reality. Not only a person’s thoughts and actions in the present life, but also his past life history exerts a great influence on his metabolic processes, and his genetic inheritance is only of secondary importance.
Although the chromosomes and genes are the blueprint of protein synthesis, not all parts of such a long chain are used in the synthesis of protein. Generally, only a small segment of the chain is essential. In different organs or under different conditions, different segments are used in synthesis. Protein synthesis and cell reproduction are extremely complicated processes that are determined not by a single DNA chain, but by various other conditions working together. Human mental factors, such as emotions and habits, play an important role in these processes. Sometimes they become the decisive factors. Therefore, it is impossible for GE to fulfill its promise of improved health and quality of life for humankind. A large number of examples in psychology can be used to prove this point.
For instance, last year I met the director of an Institute of Psychology in a certain country, who related the following incident. The Institute had requested that the government provide it with a criminal sentenced to death for use in an experiment. On the day of the execution, they tied the man to a chair and told him that they were going to cut one of his veins and let him bleed to death. They blindfolded him and made a cut on his arm but immediately stopped the blood. They placed a hose that dripped warm water next to his arm, so that the warm water running down his arm felt like blood flowing. Then the psychologist told the man that he had started to bleed...that a third of his blood was gone...that half of his blood was gone... By that time the man’s face had turned ashen. When the man was told that his blood was all gone, his head rolled to one side and he died.
Another erroneous assumption of gene determinism is that the structure of genes rarely or never changes. Scientific research in recent years indicates that the structure of genes is dynamic and subject to change during interaction with the environment. These changes can also be passed on to the next generation. If the gene structure is dynamic, then the design of gene structure becomes insignificant. Given the correlation between gene function and psychological factors as well as the influence of the environment on gene structure, we may conclude that attempts to design or alter gene structure will not achieve the “expected goal.” Furthermore, the “expected goal” is only a blind guess since we know so little about the genetic mechanism. Under such circumstances, how can GE bring the benefits it has promised? In fact, it may bring more harm than good. Although genetic engineers have through extensive experimentation invented some GE products such as tomatoes that do not spoil easily, their side effects on human health are unknown at present. When many pesticides were first invented, people didn’t know their detrimental effects either.
The Potential Harm of Genetic Engineering
What harm could GE bring? The main potential harm of GE is associated with artificial horizontal gene transfer experimentation. Horizontal gene transfer occurs commonly in nature. Genes can be exchanged between different bio-species. But the frequency of these natural transfers is limited by the defense systems, i.e. immune systems, of each bio-species. The immune system serves to prevent invasion by harmful foreign genes, viruses, and so forth, so that the bio-species can maintain its characteristic traits and normal metabolism. The GE method of artificial horizontal gene transfer works by penetrating or weakening the immune system and using virulent genes as delivery vehicles. That is, the gene to be transfered is combined with a virulent gene to effect penetration. This method allows harmful virulent genes, especially those with resistance to antibiotics, to become widespead in nature. This results in two severe consequences:
1) The production of virulent genes with multi-resistance to antibiotics will be accelerated. If such virulent genes combine with the genes of harmful viruses to form new viruses, it will be disastrous for humankind.
2) The frequency of horizontal gene transfer will greatly increase. Bio-species rely on their immune systems to limit horizontal gene transfers. If virulent genes with the ability to penetrate immune systems spread widely in nature, the frequency of horizontal gene transfers will inevitably increase. Once genes can freely transfer between species, bio-species start to lose their distinguishing characteristics. The mutant insects producted in GE laboratories are a strong indication of this trend. GE is also a potential threat to the human food supply. GE reduces biodiversity. The nutritional level of our food depends on its diversity. In the long term, GE leads to the destruction of the human food supply. At present there is no evidence that GE food and GE protein is harmless to human health. The possibility of harm cannot be eliminated. To develop potentially harmful food when there is an adequate supply of natural food is not a wise thing to do.
The Venerable Master Prediction
The Venerable Master said early on that the combination of pneumonia and the AIDS virus would kill a large number of people. This prediction is a definite possibility from the point of view of science. For such an event to occur, two conditions must hold:
1) A virus must be transmitted by air.
2) There must be a latency period for the disease (a short latency period would prevent extensive spreading of the disease). The combination of pneumonia and AIDS satisfies these two conditions. In current GE experiments, a virulent gene similar in structure to the HIV virus is used as the delivery vehicle. Thus, GE greatly increases the possibility of the Master’s prediction coming true.
What Should Our Attitude Be?
Clearly, GE brings more harm than benefit. We should use various channels to influence the direction of research, oppose the cruel treatment of animals used in GE experiments, and oppose the policy of not labeling GE food products. However, care is needed in reading scientific reports. Many scientific reports in the United States have been exaggerated for the sake of competition. It is advisable to observe clearly before offering criticism. On the other hand, there is no need to worry that scientists might soon create a horde of freaks and monsters. The genetic mechanism is an extremely complex process. Genetic engineers will quickly realize their limitations. We still have enough time to avert potential disasters.