Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tinkering with Nature...

Tinkering with nature

After years of banding penguins to study their habits (and using them as telltale indicators of climate change) new evidence shows that banding significantly affects penguin swimming and breeding ability. Studies of banded and unbanded birds carried out over a period of 10 years demonstrated that banded birds were 16 per cent likelier to die than non-banded birds, and had 39 per cent fewer chicks. 

Should we be surprised? Not really, but we continue to tinker... and in our arrogance (sorry, our ignorance no longer cuts it as an excuse) assume that no harm will result.

Tinkering with fertility - inability to conceive simply Nature’s fail safe mechanism for ensuring that less than optimally healthy folk don’t reproduce - is a good example of that arrogance. While some infertile couples have physical barriers to conception, many more need to make serious improvements to their physical, mental and emotional health rather than rushing for the ART solution.  

How long will it take before we realise that in many instances ART simply creates more problems than it solves?  Years ago - banding penguins was advised against on ethical grounds, with those concerns glibly brushed aside. Is anybody listening to the ethicists who question the assisted reproductive industry? Maybe they’ll eventually have their day in the sun but what’s the human cost in the interim?

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