Genetic Engineering


Fundamentally, because of uses now applied from the field of reproductive technologies the survival of our species is in jeopardy.


Frankenstein is the stuff of legend. He fascinates and abhors us. And so it is that humankind has long been inquisitive and tempted to modify and create life. How long, may surprise you. History lays a dubious crown upon Cleopatra’s head, who during her reign in first century BC authorized the impregnation of handmaids who were later opened up to study the development of the foetus. 


Following Cleopatra’s death, the next 1,800 years has shadows of mysterious history covering up what went on. Perhaps eugenics was the glacier. A veil of silence seems to have blanked out, or in modern parlance, redacted, the myriad of experiments for the creation and manipulation of human life that must have been conducted in such a vast period of time. I imagine the reason might lie in the fact that as with many experiments carried out on humans they have not always been consensual.

Artificial Insemination


It was not until 1790 when history’s lantern was lit again for all to see. Dr. J. Hunter, a Scottish surgeon set out the first published account of how he artificially inseminated a woman using the husband’s sperm, and which resulted in a birth. Thereafter successes around the world have been widespread and countless babies have been born via artificial means. The desire by others to publish successes and develop reproductive technologies continued swiftly thereafter.

Freezing Sperm and Test Tube Babies

Ideas of what might be possible mushroomed, for instance, in 1866, Dr. P. Montegazza stated ‘a man dying…may beget…an heir with his semen frozen and stored at home;’ whilst, Aldous Huxley’s 1932 novel, Brave New World, described a global society run by one world government in which all babies are created in hatcheries for different roles in the economy by artificial insemination and gestated in bottles. 

Aldous Huxley’s influential book unsettled people. Some might say, rightly so. It was a timely addition to Nazi Germany’s thinking during their rise to power in the 1930s, including reference to the book by Dr. H. Rohleder published in the 1920s, the title of which begins with the opening words Test Tube Babies. Yes, that’s right; the term is not a late twentieth century invention. It surprised me too.

Even without access to nation state resources, research ideas and achievements have been phenomenal. It all paints a picture of the progresses made to enhance reproductive capabilities, drive forward technologies for the manipulation of our DNA and change the means of human procreation. In all it left me with one unending feeling. The desire for scientists to tamper evermore is never long resisted. The envelope of genetics is forever being stretched.

Each person’s genetic makeup, known as their genome, contains up to 25,000 genes, which is mapped out as their DNA sequence. The majority of a person’s DNA comes parcelled in 46 chromosomes, half of which comes from the mother’s egg and the rest from the father’s sperm. As soon as the egg is fertilised, the human embryonic cell, known as a zygote, starts to divide and grow. Each time the embryonic cells divide and multiply, the same chromosomes are replicated within the growing body. The 0.1% difference in an individual’s genome makes them unique and sets each person apart from the 99.9% of similarity each of us shares. Importantly, some aberrations in a person’s DNA – their genes or the nucleotide within a single gene – can determine if an individual will have a genetic mutation and develop a disease or possess enhanced capabilities.

Advances in technology have outpaced our ability to forecast the real consequences if used. For once genetic markers have been identified and located for a particular gene, ‘healthy,’ ‘enhanced,’ or ‘defective,’ genes can be introduced in the petri dish at or shortly after the zygote stage. Thereafter, these transgenes create genetically modified individuals. The alteration is known as germline genetic modification, changes genetically modified may only become apparent and switch on when an individual matures into adulthood. If not rendered infertile, the genetic modifications will be replicated in their offspring.

The world you and I now live in runs the risk of redefining what is human. Fundamentally, because of uses now applied from the field of reproductive technologies the survival of our species is in jeopardy.

Blood Relationships offers a mere glimpse of our world, portrays the impact on a small number of individuals caught up in the unfolding of events and hints of chronicles yet to come. There is a storm coming. I warn you. Be prepared.

Philip A. Oldfield

Frankenstein - Author - Philip Oldfield
Artificial Insemination - Author - Philip Oldfield
DNA image - genetic engineering - opinions of Philip Oldfield - Author of novels with strong female protagonists.

The world you and I now live in runs the risk of redefining what is human. Fundamentally, because of uses now applied from the field of reproductive technologies the survival of our species is in jeopardy.

PHILIP OLDFIELD

Petri-Dish - Author - Philip Oldfield
DNA - Author - Philip Oldfield

​​​​Author of cross genre psychological thrillers and romantic comedies, all with strong female protagonists