作者簡介：易象乾，加州柏克萊大學佛學博士，現 為柏克萊世界宗教研究所研究教授、舊金山州立大 學講師，為已修行三十年之佛教徒。其網頁––基因工程及其危險性<http://online.sfsu,edu/～rone/gedanger.htm>提供有更多資料。
如果其基因跑到了外面，或許一些腐葉的塑膠針散佈在野外。這些塑膠就產生了一種真正的危險，因為它具有打亂毀壞整個食物鍊的潛力。無脊椎動物或許吃掉它之後又被吃掉等等。Maharishi 管理大學的分子生物學教授，前美國國立健康研究所研究組長John Fagan博士提醒大家，這些塑膠中所用的新化合油，對於動物或許是有毒的。
另一個讓人擔憂的理念，就是用基因工程使植物具有蠍子毒，這樣食用植物的蟲子就會被殺死。傑出的基因學家，Western Ontario大學的榮譽基因學教授Joseph Cummins警告我們，這種基因也會在昆蟲中擴散，任何被咬的生物，包括我們在內，都有中蠍子毒的危險。可事實上，這種研究實驗仍在繼續進行。
Reprinted from the 2001 issue of Religion East and West
Ron Epstein has a Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from the University of California at Berkeley. He is a research professor at the Institute for World Religions in Berkeley and a lecturer at San Francisco State University, and has been a practicing Buddhist for over thirty years. His Website, Genetic Engineering and Its Dangers <http://online.sfsu.edu/~rone/gedanger.htm> provides further information.
If the genes escape into the wild, we might find natural areas littered with the plastic spines of decayed leaves. Aesthetically repugnant, the plastic also poses a real danger since it has the potential for disrupting or killing entire food chains. It can be eaten by invertebrates, which in turn are eaten, and so forth. Dr. John Fagan, Professor of Molecular Biology at the Maharishi University of Management and formerly research group leader at the National Institutes of Health, has warned that the new constituents used in these plastics are oils that are probably toxic to animals.
Another distressing idea is to genetically engineer plants with scorpion toxin that would kill any insects feeding on the plants. The prominent geneticist Joseph Cummins, Professor Emeritus of Genetics at the University of Western Ontario, warned that such genes could be horizontally transferred to the insects themselves, thereby risking the creation of insects whose stings or bites would inject scorpion toxin into their victims, including us. Nonetheless, research and field-testing continue.
Many scientists have claimed that the ingestion of genetically engineered food is harmless because stomach acids break down the engineered substances. According to research, however, significant portions reach the bloodstream and also the brain cells. Furthermore, the natural defense mechanisms of the body's cells are not entirely effective in keeping the genetically engineered substances out of the cells. Recent experiments show that genetically engineered organisms can mutate up to thirty times faster than normal ones, so they are a serious potential health hazard.
The creation of xenographs—genetically altered animals which often contain human genes—is one of the more horrendous uses of this technology. Often experiments result in horribly deformed animals that have to undergo terrible suffering. Even when experiments are 'successful,' the scientific model is that of the animal as a factory which efficiently produces some substance—meat, milk, or pharma-ceuticals—for human consumption. What Buddhists need to pay attention to here are the degrees of negative karma. The killing of animals for meat violates the precept against killing. Factory farming adds incredible suffering to the lives of animals before they are killed.
The creation of xenographs is an even more fundamental violation of the animals' lives. Whether or not the genes inserted to create new animals are human ones, xenographs are created for human use and patented for corporate profit without regard for the suffering of the animals, their feelings, thoughts, natural life-patterns, or potential for enlightenment.
Recent examples of this type of genetic engineering include putting human genes into fish to make them grow faster. PPL Therapeutics, based in Edinburgh, Scotland; the Biotech companies Nextran and Alxion in the United States; and others are racing to place human genes into pigs in order to genetically match them to human individuals. In other words, you can have your own personal organ donor pig with your genes implanted. When one of your organs gives out, you can use the pig's.
Of course, many would say that it is better to sacrifice the pig so that they or their loved ones can live, even though such thoughts and actions are not in accord with the ideal of the Bodhisattva. Yet, other more humane solutions are available. For instance, in some Western European nations, everyone is considered a potential organ donor unless they specifically file with the government not to be, so there is no shortage of organs for transplant there and no need for sacrificing genetically engineered pigs.
As more and more human genes are being inserted into non-human organisms to create novel forms of life that are genetically partly human, new ethical questions arise. What percent of human genes does an organism have to contain before it is considered human? For instance, how many human genes would a green pepper have to contain before you would have qualms about eating it? This is not merely a hypothetical query. The Chinese at Beijing University are now putting human genes into tomatoes and peppers to make them grow faster. For meat-eaters, the same question could be posed about eating pork with human genes. And what about the mice that have been genetically engineered to produce human sperm?
To be continued