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The Almighty Buck

Company Gains Research Rights To Tongan Genome 108

spam_it_to_me_baby writes: "An Australian listed company, Autogen, has acquired research rights to the Kingdom of Tonga's gene pool. The Pacific island's 108,000 residents will be used by the company to identify genes that cause common diseases. Autogen says serum or DNA samples collected in Tonga shall remain the property of Tonga, while Autogen will build the genetic database on which the research will be based. More here." Similar to research going to collect the genetic information of everyone in Iceland, another place with a winning combination of low population and historical isolation. A single company (Decode) also won the "rights" to that information, for a mere $200 million.
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Company Gains Research Rights To Tongan Genome

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  • As various others have mentioned, the sad reality is that the government is an elite ruling family.

    As for your questions about the United States, where would you find protection from such DNA mapping? I would no doubt expect someone would take the US Government to court (esp in this modern litiginous society) if they were to try it, but do any real laws prevent them?

    As for fingerprints when you are born, AFAIK, your fingers are not sufficiently developed w/ regards to the skin, and thus your fingerprint wouldn't really work. And if they were to use ink, instead of the only-recently introduced optical biometric scanners, then the potential for ink with such small channels being between the rings is too great to get an accurate sample. Small fingers are much harder to measure.

    In light of all of this, I'm reminded of the one-funny joke which now brings back a rather sour aftertaste....
    Just because you are paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you


  • I don't see the word exclusive mentioned anywhere in the press announcement.

    What I wonder is how they want to do the sampling? Is every citizen of Tonga now obliged to give blood/gene samples to Autogen? What happens to people who refuse?

    While I do not see a problem with the research, I think it's a violation of human rights if samples are not given freely.

    Yet, if Tongans(?) have to volunteer to give samples, what's the deal with the deal?

  • Slashdot story on the topic [slashdot.org].

    Let's face it - all our worst fears are coming true.


    D.

  • <insert oblique literary reference>
    Makes ya wonder if Faust was Tongan
    </allusion>

  • I'm sure there are plenty of people who wouldn't want insurance companies and private companies getting hold of their *very private* medical records.

    I can understand that people some people might be concerned, but you have to remember that those who receive these records don't know that they are your records. In fact, in the format that they leave the doctors' hands, they are absolutely useless to insurance companies.

    I also doubt that you mother has to co-operate with Kári personally :)

  • So, one day you wake up and you discover that your DNA - the very thing that makes your body what it is - is no longer yours! Your own government sold it to a private company.

    Even Franz Kafka [yahoo.com] wouldn't come up with this one. This world is positively going insane.

  • by snookums ( 48954 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2000 @01:17AM (#607908)

    In case you are unaware, Tonga is an extremely poor country.

    The "autocratic monarchy" derided in other posts are really not the uncaring sycophants that people might think. I happen to know someone related to the Tongan royal family (who lives in Australia) and he is one of the kindest, most honest and genuine men that I have met. He regularly involves himself in fund-raising activities to better the lives of the people in his home village in Tonga.

    I believe that the sale of a TLD, and some anonymous scientific data is a very wise revenue-raising decision for a developing nation to make.

  • >To the rest of us, how long before Microsoft buy your DNA? Will you have to sign a EULA before conceiving a child? not that i approve of such actions, but SOMETHING could be done to prevent some people i know from reproducing untcontrolled....
  • Currently, the project to map the human genome project uses DNA from a mixture of just 20 white americans. If you're black, brown, yellow, or any other racial group, the use of the information it throws up is limited. If mapping the human genome is good news, isn't it good news to map the genome for all races? Or is it only good to map the American white genome?
  • As they used to say during the Counterreformation,
    Kill them all, and let God sort them out.


    According to some discussions, it was during the , a (now) Southern French fortress of the Albigensians, 13th century, I think. [ukans.edu]
    __
  • by Elvis Maximus ( 193433 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2000 @02:49AM (#607912) Homepage

    My memory on this is a little fuzzy, but I believe the genetic sequence the Israeli researchers were said to have sought and found was specific to certain communities of Iraqis.

    IIRC they had gotten as far as identifying the sequences they would need to exploit to engineer an Iraqi-specific disease, but had not figured out how to exploit those sequences. A major sticking point was how to distinguish Iraqi Arabs from Sephardi Jews of Iraqi background; I don't recall whether this problem was resolved or not.

    In fairness to the Israelis, it is worth noting that there was a tremendous uproar in the Knesset when this research was made public, and IIRC the plug was pulled at that time. But it is fairly shocking that the Israelis, of all people, would contemplate such a Mengele-esque project.

    And I don't think anyone would be too surprised if research in this vein was still going on in secret.

    I believe similar research was also done in Apartheid-era South Africa.

    -

  • ./ers may not be aware that Tonga still has a autocratic monarchy, with a parliament with a majority of seats guaranteed to noble families. Tongans who want a democratic system tend to find themselves in jail. Looks to me like Autogen has cynically found a jurisdiction with a compliant and corrupt ruling clique. Shame on them.

    Typical bias. Hate to tell you this but monarchy != corrupt regime. The worst criticism of the Tongan system I've been able to find by searching is their refusal to accept a UN report on free speech violations. But big deal, the United States of America does that and worse on a regular basis. For instance, their refusal to live up the UN charter of rights with respect to natives and other issues.

    But this is the same old US-centric view we see over and over here on /. If it isn't a democracy, if someone doesn't hold Free Speech up as a religion, if it's got to do with anyone else in any way, it's demonized.

    Feh. I'm sick of it.

  • I actually wish this hadn't been modded as flamebait - I think it's an interesting question.

    1. You don't know that I'm white
    2. I strongly doubt that there is a monolithic Tongan culture, tradition or set of values to which all Tongans subscribe - else why would Tongan commoners such as Akilisi Pohiva be trying to change their system? See http://138.25.138.94/acij/ACIJ/Tonga/tonga-terrori sm.html
    3. White, bigoted imperialist is a weird term of abuse to apply to someone who criticizes a class-ridden society with a hereditary aristocracy :-)
    4. Robust systems that exist with the consent of their people generally don't need to imprison their critics.
  • The poster was making the more specific statement that Tonga is undemocratic, corrupt, and imprisons dissenters.

    I'd rather have some more information before labling Tonga corrupt on that basis alone. What form did this dissent take? Were they peaceful protests or pampheteering, or were they something more? Who, if anyone, outside the country was backing them and for what purpose?

    To say nothing of what the imprisonment entails. That's a loaded term for us westerners, who conjure up images of roach and rat infested cells in banana republics, or frozen gulags. It may be that the conditions are much more humane and amount more to "detainment" than "imprisonment".

    Snap judgments are uninformed judgments.

  • Many readers seems worried about the ethical side of the Tonga gene project. As an example of how a company can try to meet those concerns, you may be interested in an ethics document [umangenomics.com] published by a Swedish competitor to Autogen, Uman Genomics [umangenomics.com].

    Personally, I am not so worried about the privacy aspect of these projects. It seems to me that both deCode and Uman Genomics work hard on solving that problem. More pressing to me is the kind of deals they are making. Is it really right for a society to favour one company before many others when the resources are actually public? This is an old problem in that countries has sold mining rights, fishing rights, and other natural resources for a long time, but we are not talking about a scarce resource here. This is information and it is not expensive or impossible to share that resource with others as long as they can pay.

    And Celera [celera.com] has shown that it is certainly possible to have a business model an a truly open resource: The human genome. No one has exclusive rights to this data, and yet you can make a good business selling it.


    Lars
    __

  • Allegedly, Israeli scientists have identified certain unique features of the Arab/Palestinians' genome which don't appear in Israelis' genome.

    Would this work? There are lots of Sephardic and Yemeni Jews that lived centuries in contact with Arabs (of course, not all the people in "Arab countries" are genetically Arab, if such thing exists. I think there would be some degree of intermixing, kosher or not.

    as soon as the radiation fades

    How long is it for current neutron bombs?
    __
  • Certainly.

    The dissenters I was referring to were journalists who wrote and published stories critical of the government and the royal family in local newspapers.

    Reading human rights materials on the web, I understand Tongan prisons are pretty primitive, but in line with general living conditions.

    I don't think that's of any great comfort for anyone imprisoned in Tonga though.

    You are quite right that snap judgements are uninformed ones. But writing off my post as a snap judgement was a snap judgement itself.
  • "Bubba, they'll pry my DNA from my cold, dead hand"
  • It's great to hear that there is a royal Tongan who is kind, honest and genuine. That doesn't prove anything about the Tongan govt as a whole tho.

    I agree that selling some rights to anonymous data is an excellent way to get some revenue for Tonga, which could certainly do with it. But the original article implies rather more than that: in particular the sentence "any serum or DNA samples collected
    in Tonga shall remain the property of Tonga " implies that ownership of the data does not lie with the donor but with their government.

    It's a shame there isn't more detail about that, or about whether data will be anonymised, or whether it will be accessible to other researchers, etc.
  • knowledge of this genome will allow the creation of a super-race of world wrestling federation members like the Tonga Kid.
  • All they are getting is the rights to the information... They want to find instances where you can clearly see a difference between good and disease... then they can use that information to pinpoint the genes responsible for that disease (only for those that happen in the tongan community, and that are based on genetics).

    The company can then work on that gene directly in other systems to find drugs to either fix the problem or bypass it. They do not own anybody... in fact, all they are collecting is information, which is useless outside of context...

    The hardest part of human genetics is in pinpointing exactly what genes are responsible for what... this is the best way to do it. Hopefully you'll see the fruits of this research in 10 years, and live 10 years longer and healthier because of this :)

    Ba.

  • The difference is, in a democracy, people have *elected*, have chosen, to sell these rights.
    I disagree. The people have elected the officials that made the deal. That much is true. But this was not a campaign issue in Iceland. We didn't know our elected officials would do this. Once their position was clear, we couldn't unelect them.

    I for one want to see Decode succeed for the greater good of mankind and would have gladly given them access to my medical history and DNA samples. However, I don't propose to have any right to control whether other people do the same. It follows that I don't propose that the officials who derive their power from my vote have any right to do so either.
    --

  • First of all, define racist. If you mean generalizing people's behavior based on race, then re-read your own statement. You seem to have some pretty strong opinions on how all white people act.

    The second thing, you seem to think that whatever crimes you think white people are guilty of doesn't apply to other races. Do you think white people invented murder? Genocide? Slavery? Subjugation? All of this has been around as long as humanity has existed. By participating in those crimes, all white people have done is prove that they are as flawed as everyone else.

    The third thing is, you seem to think that a crime committed by a white person applies to all white people. This is not true. This is, in fact, the core of racism, and it is what needs to be fought, on all fronts, in order to live in a multicultural world. Treat people as individuals, and not as how they are portrayed in media and stories, and have respect for everyone as an individual.

  • The tongans gave up their genome?

    Does this mean we can figure out what's wrong with Jar-Jar? Maybe we can genetically engineer them some smaller ears, too....
  • The United States does not OWN your body. And I don't agree with the "drug war" either.

    If you are an American citizen, you are free to emigrate to any country you want to, and renounce your citizenship if you want to. True, the last 20 years or so has seen an alarming erosion of the classical concept of "citizen" and replace it with "consumer". Not just corporations, but the government itself is turning citizens into "consumers" of ever encroaching government services.

    I'd hope that any attempt by the US government to sell the rights to American's genetic code would be met with riots and the storming of Washington DC. The pessimist in me thinks that there are too few who understand the Declaration of Independance and it's implications.
  • Does anybody know about any legal precedent concerning self-ownership vs. eminent domain? I know that (at least in the US of A) you don't really own land, as the government can take it from you at any time. They are required to provide some kind of compensation, but there's nothing to prevent them from saying, "We're going to buy your house. Under eminent domain laws, you're required to sell it to us. Here's a nickel, now give me the deed and get off the government's property. If you have any complaints, please direct them to the man holding the M-16."

    What I'm wondering is if this sort of thing has already been legally applied to a person's body, or if there's any general consensus in the legal world on if such action is possible. The government does own the body of anyone enlisted in the military, so the general principle of the government owning a person is alive and well in modern America. I just want to know how hard it would be for the government to apply the same ideas to civilians.

  • It's very uncapitalistic to give a company like DeCode a monopoly on a research treasure

    Actually, it's very capitalistic. It is the concentration of wealth (future though it may be) into the hands of a large profit-minded corporation.

    The entire point of the corporation (in turn the entire basis of capitalism) is to generate as much wealth as possible for its shareholders. Since a monopoly is the utmost wealth generating mechanism, it should be the ultimate goal of goal of any corporation. Any saying otherwise is not a true capitalist, and has at least a little dose of the communist ideal in them.

  • It is simply not true that there was a genetic isolation in Iceland. The Island men were travelling around Europe for hundreds of years.

    In such a few numbers that it was statistically insignificant. Most of Icelanders were poor farmers who couldn't afford the monopilistic prices the Danes (the previous rulers of Iceland) put on seafares across the Atlantic.

    It is not true that almost every person from Iceland has a well known family tree going back hundreds of years.

    There are church records dating back to the 14th century (if not farther back) noting the father/mother, date of birth, date of death of almost every individual ever born in Iceland.

    Also, Icelanders have been pretty meticulous family historians for centuries. Always highly annoying when your gran tells you that a person you don't like is actually your n-th cousin.

    Since when have newspaper reporters gotten their facts straight about foreign countries?

  • /. population seems to be demonizing Israel :-(
    I remember how an article about alleged development of genetical weapon by Israel got about 600 responces in 1997 or 1998 (?); only Microsoft bancrupcy would get more responces at that time!

    The first problem with your thinking is that there is no single Israeli genome. Even though studies show apparent Middle-Eastern heritage of Jews participating in the research (and their closeness to Arabs in this regard), modern Jews are pretty assimilated; significant portion of new immigrants is only 1/2 or even 1/4 Jewish genetically. You can't test them all!
    The second problem is that Jews and Arabs are REALLY close. Half of Jews (Sefardim) has never left Middle East/Northern Africa, thus living among Arabs for many generations.
    The third problem is that many Palestinians are really descendants of Jews! ;-) If you read the history of Islam, you will see that earlier Islam was less about killing infidels or making "religious cleansing" and more about converting conquered tribes/peoples (BTW, muslims were much more tolerant toward Jews at that time than Christians were). Thus most of the Palestinians are in reality ancient Jews, some converted to Christianity, later converted to Islam when it had spread there. Thus, releasing such a virus runs a significant risk of decimating your own population, especially since it's an unproven new technology.

    And what do you think of the way to propagate this virus at the modern times when every country (except maybe China) is open to the world ??? Have you heard of any epidemy that would spread fast and kill a lot of people lately ??? AIDS does not count; it not a recent phenomenon, it's brewing since 1936, as some reseachers think.

    So, stop bashing Israel and look at the other side of the conflict ;-)

    Here are some links:

    http://www.abcnews.go.com/sections/science/Daily News/geneticbrothers000509.html

    http://www.jpost.com/Editions/2000/11/06/News/Ne ws.14948.html

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid _742000/742430.stm

    http://www.assyrianfoundation.org/genetics.htm

    Long quote from the last article:

    The latter point is also made in studies of Jews. Based on earlier studies using classical genetic methods7 , Cavalli-Sforza et al. came to the conclusion "that Jews have maintained considerable genetic similarity among themselves and with people from the Middle East, with whom they have common origins." Evidence for the latter concept was very convincingly made and extended by an international team of scientists in a very recent research article8 ,widely reported in the press, in which the genetics of different Middle Eastern populations were studied using a completely different method than the classical methods that form the great majority of papers in the Cavalli-Sforza et al book. The research involved direct DNA analysis of the Y chromosome, which is found only in males and is passed down from father to son. Seven different Jewish groups from communities in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East were compared to various non-Jewish populations from those areas. The results showed, first of all, that "Despite their long-term residence in different countries and isolation from one another, most Jewish populations were not significantly different from one another at the genetic level." Furthermore, the genetic characteristics of Jews were shown to be distinctly different from (non-Jewish) Europeans, suggesting that very little admixture occurred between Jews and Europeans, even after about 80 generations of Jews in Europe. There was a similar distinct difference between Jews and North Africans. In striking contrast, there was an "extremely close affinity of Jewish and non-Jewish Middle Eastern populations [Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese, Druze, Saudi Arabians] observed here ...[that] supports the hypothesis of a common Middle Eastern origin" of these populations dating back about 4,000 years. The differences between the populations were not statistically significant, demonstrating once again the close genetic relationship of Middle Eastern populations to each other. In fact, the Palestinians and Syrians were so close to the Jews in genetic characteristics that they "mapped within the central cluster of Jewish populations." As one of the Israeli scientists on the team said, "Eventually people will realize that they are not that different." Peace through Genetics?
  • That only works if they map everyone else's DNA at the same time. How would they be able to find something that ONLY applies to Tongans and not anyone else? It's like saying that you can only get internet access through the telephone.. which was true until someone actually tried broadcasting it through something else.

  • Do Autogen have the rights over all samples in perpetuity or just for the next 5/ 10 / whatever years?

  • "An Australian listed company, Autogen, has acquired research rights to the Kingdom of Tonga's gene pool. The Pacific island's 108,000 residents will be used by the company to identify genes that cause common diseases. Autogen says serum or DNA samples collected in Tonga shall remain the property of Tonga, while Autogen will build the genetic database on which the research will be based."

    Arguably, the big concern in the purchase of the genome (ie. genetic information) about a given population is not the fact that people are literally being "bought" by corporations (which is entirely false because they have only bought the information regarding the people's DNA for research) but that this information might be misused by insurance companies.

    Insurance companies charge people on the basis of risk. The higher the risk, the higher the premium. The risk with DNA is that if the insurance company finds out that a person is prone to a particular disease or condition (such as heart disease or diabetes) then the insurance company might charge a higher premium or even deny insurance altogether, because the person presents too great a risk.

    This would make medical (and other types of) insurance harder to get because of people's genetic history, something which they cannot change. It's not the purchase of genetic information that we have to worry about, but the exploitation of that information for commercial gain at the expense of the people.

    - Self Bias Resistor
    "Anyone who says that money is the root of all evil, hasn't got any!" - Ben Affleck, Boiler Room

  • by H*rus ( 237994 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2000 @12:09AM (#607934) Homepage
    When they are done, maybe they can start mapping the Swiss. They've isolated themselves too and they have this very interesting gene for banking.

    Mark [zwienenberg.com]
    "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."
  • Of course, if you lend yourself to Scott Adam's (of Dilbert fame for you unintiated) interpretation of the Swiss, you could instead be studying the DNA of benevolent aliens.... An interesting thought ;-)
  • simply amazing; it took over 20 minutes for somebody to post this...

    ...dammit, that was my joke...

  • Fully agree with what you're saying there, UK's got a parlimentary monachary, US is a republic. Neither of these are truly democratic, but who's to say which is more corrupt.
  • Totally disagree, why should I be held responsible for the acts of my ancestors? As long as I live my life with respect for others, it doesn't make a blind bit of difference if I feel guilty for historical acts or not.
  • There are many quirky aspects to the place. The one I remember most about it is that its former king once held the Guinness record for being the world's heavist monarch.

    "When Britain's Prince Charles married Diana, a special chair was built in Westminster Abbey for the King of Tonga. At his heaviest, in 1976, he weighed 462 pounds. By 1993, he had slimmed down to a slender 280 pounds."

    Another thing I remember reading is that there's an age old custom - when the king walks around, people are supposed to be at a height below him. So apparently those around him fall down like ninepins when he goes around.

    Here's a pic of him. [tvb.gov.to] He looks kinda like a l33t p1mp.

    Tonga is also responsible for all those .to websites [tonic.to]. One of the fastest to capitalize on the domain name craze, they did WAY better than the far more naive and ethical people of Tuvalu, who only recently started selling their .tv stuff, after a melodramatic business plan gone bad.

    Tonga and its king inspire the kind of satirical lunacy that the teletubbies normally do.

    w/m

  • What moral and ethical right does a government have to engage in the buying and selling of citizen's genetic code?

    Especially if the profit is being made by a corporation, and more importantly, the money collected is benefitting the GOVERNMENT, not the people who's right to their own genetic code has been sold without their consent.

    While I hate to bring up politics, this is an example of conflicting philospohies... Socialism/Fascism/Liberalism holds that property and people ultimately belong to the State or "society". Capitalism/Conservatism holds that all rights, property are vested in individuals. Even if I do not own anything else, I own MYSELF. And that includes my own source code. If I want to release it via GPL, sell it closed souce, etc, that right is up to me.

    I feel that selling the rights to the genetic code of ALL individuals in a country reeks of the sick experiments that Hitler did to Jews in the concentration camps. While I have no doubt that the are NOT torturing people, etc, they are having medical experiments conducted upon their own code WITHOUT consent. They also are being denied the right to decide for themselves when, how and by WHOM their genetic code would be allowed to be used.

    And that, weakens the presumption that the individual is owned by himself, NOT the state.
  • actually in the US, i believe legally your drivers licence is your ID, and vice versa, as many friends of mine got ID's for an 8th grade trip from seattle to new york, and we had alot of fun stringing the girls along (who didn't have them) making them think we all had driver's licences. A DL in the US isn't really anything, as anyone over the age of 17 can apply for a DL and recieve one w/o written or driving test (at least in texas), and if you're 16, your parents can wave both the written and driving tests, along with saying that you did home driver's school, allowing a student to get a licence w/o any formal training (and yes it does happen, several of my friends (who I don't drive with) have done this). sorry if i'm rambling, it's nearly 5 and i haven't slept yet : )
  • Some weeks ago there was a very harsh article about Decode in "Die Zeit" [maybe the best newspaper in Germany].
    It said:
    • It is simply not true that there was a genetic isolation in Iceland. The Island men were travelling around Europe for hundreds of years.
    • It is not true that almost every person from Iceland has a well known family tree going back hundreds of years.
    I think a lot of critics of DeCode think that this company has just one purpose: to make money. Stefansson promised to heal one disease (like Cancer) per year! Imagine that. His company has not produced anything of scientific importance up to now.
  • I'd just like to say a big warm hello to my fellow -1 nested viewers.

    Have a great day you guys! 8^)
  • > How would they be able to find something that ONLY applies to Tongans and not anyone else?

    As they used to say during the Counterreformation,
    Kill them all, and let God sort them out.
  • I don't care what "good" this may accomplish. If a company, government, etc wants to use the code of an individual, they have to negotiate it with that INDIVIDUAL. Any government which arrogantly presumes to sell rights to genetic code of it's citizens already, or is close to, presuming OWNERSHIP of it's citizens.

    I believe that the FIRST and FOREMOST Human Right is the right of self-ownership. I'm mine, and forcing me to give up any part of me against my consent is slavery.
  • Actually another thing...tonga makes really good Kava........the kinda the makes your tounge numb and stuff...try it some time

    "sex on tv is bad, you might fall off..."
  • Theoretically, the USA is founded on the principle of a representitive Republic governed by a Constitution that spells out what powers are given to government, and that all powers NOT granted are denied.

    The Constitution does not in any place say anything about group "rights", social "rights", or government "rights". All freedoms in the Constitution are granted to INDIVIDUALS.

    Now I said theoretically, because that's not how it works anymore. It would in my opinion, be grossly illegal for the US government to do any such thing as sell the US gene pool.

    Given that most Americans are allowing the party in power to use cronies in power in a state to usurp an election to keep that party in power (something the USA condemmed in Serbia), I can't say that this (selling gene rights) is something that the government would be called to task on.

    After all, we've now had generations of people dumbed down and under-educated on the principles that this country was founded on. They won't understand it because it's too technical. They also won't realize tha the Constitution, by the 9th and 10th amendments SPECIFICALLY prohibit the government from doing any such thing.
  • "All they are getting is the rights to the information... "

    But they are getting the rights from a GOVERNMENT, not with the direct consent of the individuals involved. Also, the individuals are being denied the right to sell their OWN code for their own profit, if they were to choose to do so.

    By presuming to have the right to exclusively sell such information, the governments of Tonga, Iceland, and any other is presuming to ultimately own the individual. If you do not own YOURSELF, you are a slave.
  • Posted by cmdrtaco Wed November 22, 05:11 PM
    from the "ah but is it open source" dept:

    Not to be outdone by Autogen, Microsoft founder and chief software architect Bill Gates today announced plans for "one of our most innovative products yet." Although few details were given at the press conference, he mentioned that this new product, dubbed "Microsoft Genome", would be "loosely based upon human dna, exhibiting a surprising level of standards compliance. However, in the fine Microsoft tradition, we have introduced a number of innovations that we think will really have the public excited. You know, just some minor improvements to the codebase." Analysts expect a release date about nine months from now.

  • Only with long and painful process of soulsearching and admission of (historical) guilt can a white learn to live as a world citizen in a colorblind multicultural world

    I don't want people to be color-blind. I want people to see my color. To see my heritage. I just don't want them to pre-judge me based on it. Just respect me for who I am, my thoughts and opinions. Don't disrespect me based on my appearance.

    It's bleeding heart liberalism like this that is preventing us from moving forward. Do you thing affirmative action is helping or hurting? Do you think mandating minority hiring is raising people's opinion of minority's qualifications or abilities?

  • What I responded to was the implication that this was possible because "Autogen has cynically found a jurisdiction with a compliant and corrupt ruling clique." (judd [slashdot.org]). The original pressrelease is too lacking in information to deduce that people's rights has not been defended.

    You are also not understanding what they are selling in Iceland and Sweden. It is not your genes or genome that is taken away from you; You can take it to anyone else to sell it or whatever. The deal is about the exlusive cooperation of healt authorities and the access to data and statistics that same authorities have collected.

    One controversial issue is of course whether anonymous medical records belong to the originator or not. Representants of the people(s) have decided that is OK, but understanding it is a controversial issue, and very much an issue of trust, they have made it possible for people not to participate. I don't understand what more you can ask for.

    What is really debatable is whether a government should be able to sell those publicly owned rights to one single company, shutting out everyone else.


    Lars
    __

  • if the deal can give one a lot of money, be sure that one is going to make it, no matter how much it will cost to the society...

    These projects cannot be done without the cooperation of health authorities, simply because they sit on data (not only samples that you could drive around and collect, but medical records) that are essential to the project.

    if you don't put rule and laws to regulate the market, don' t expect the market to regulate itself!

    Right. And that is why I don't want these health authorities to create monopolies by selling exclusive rights!

    Now, please, let's keep Hitler out of this. OK?

    Lars
    __

  • What seems like a good deal is often not. The indians thought it was a good deal to sell manhatten for some beads. Of course to an Indian the concept of owning land was strange and nonsensical. Maybe to the Tongans (is that the right word) it seems silly that somebody would be paying them money for genes.
    We can only hope they can avoid the fate of the indians.
  • What seems like a good deal is often not. The indians thought it was a good deal to sell manhatten for some beads. Of course to an Indian the concept of owning land was strange and nonsensical. Maybe to the Tongans (is that the right word) it seems silly that somebody would be paying them money for genes. We can only hope they can avoid the fate of the indians.
    Completely off topic, but I have heard (disclaimer: note the lack of a citation) that if the Indian Tribe had taken the $24 that was part of the purchase price (leaving them free to consume the trade goods that were also part of the deal) and put the money in an interest-bearing account, the power of compound interest would have resulted in enough money to buy back the entire island of Manhattan even at today's real estate prices. (I don't know if that is just the land, or if it includes the buildings). If this is true, it's really not like the Indians got rooked, now is it?
  • Capitalism is about competition, not monopoly.

    The objective of true capitalism is to provide the cheapest and best services to everyone, while the companies benefit as well.

    No sane person can doubt the value of an open capitalist market. Just look at the poor Russian sods.
  • by judd ( 3212 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2000 @11:31PM (#607956) Homepage
    I note that apparently Autogen has exclusive rights over all samples collected in Tonga, which in turn belong to Tonga.

    So if Jonah Lomu gives blood in New Zealand, it belongs to him. If he goes home to Tonga, all rights over it belong to Autogen.

    ./ers may not be aware that Tonga still has a autocratic monarchy, with a parliament with a majority of seats guaranteed to noble families. Tongans who want a democratic system tend to find themselves in jail. Looks to me like Autogen has cynically found a jurisdiction with a compliant and corrupt ruling clique. Shame on them.

  • Fogive me, as I've been up all night again. Is it April 1st? Do my tired eyes deceive me? Has a company just bought 100,000 people?

    Are there any slashdot readers from Tonga? Did you sign a consent form? How much have you been paid?

    To the rest of us, how long before Microsoft buy your DNA? Will you have to sign a EULA before conceiving a child?
  • by Sheeple Police ( 247465 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2000 @11:32PM (#607958)
    I almost wonder if this shouldn't be an issue of human rights... What you have is a government basically selling out the individual rights of the populace for $200 million - which, if you read the article, will go the the Ministry of Health - owned by the government.....

    Rather than sell their people into slavery, something clearly socially and morally unacceptable, they are essentially selling the people into a life of lab-monkeying. I'm sorry, but where is the outcry? When commercialization and trampling of human rights combine, it only makes me fear the day of MegaCorp (also known to some psychics as Microsoft) owning our governments.....
  • For "government" read "Tongan Royal Family", doing what aristocrats do best.
  • In other words, if I'm a poor Tongan or Icelander, do I get paid for my gene info, or is it taken by the government who has already been paid?

    I don't know how things work in Tonga, I don't even know where it is on the map. I do know something about how things work in Iceland (but not all the details) since I am not only an Icelander, but work in computer security for Íslensk Erfðagreining, the Icelandic daughter company of Decode Genetics. Of course, nothing I say is official in any way. In fact I'm probably just making the lot up.

    Here, no company has exclusive rights to do genetic research. No company has the right to take samples from an individual without their consent. The government (democratically elected, high voter turnout, no infinitely iterated recounts needed) agreed to the deal. What was sold was not the people's genome, but access to medical health information already collected. You may also opt out of the database, f.ex. by mailing the free-postage form that was sent to every person in the country.

    First, any personally identifying information is removed from the data. Second, the data is stored in sealed rooms with camera surveilance and all code which has access to the data is validated by a third party. Third, the code must never return result sets with fewer than a specified number of people. I.e. it is very difficult to use rare traits to get additional information about a person or a small group of people.

    The security requirements are incredible. If banks had to adhere to these kinds of standards, I think they'd just decide it wasn't worth the effort and close. We're required to use 10000 bit RSA keys, for example (I wonder if they'd accept 8192 bits keys?) which is just preposterous. But I expect the result will be secure.

    I think that, assuming you want to allow large-scale statistical research of this kind at all, it is being done the right way in Iceland. I wouldn't want to guess about Tonga.

  • by Lars Arvestad ( 5049 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2000 @12:21AM (#607961) Homepage Journal
    Deals like this can also be made in democracies. As mentioned, Iceland's deCODE [decode.com] struck a deal with the Icelandic government, giving them exlusive rights (time limited, I think) to commercialize the data. The public health system in a part of Sweden has done the same with a comany called Uman Genomics [umangenomics.com]. Here, the company gains access to anonymized public health records. I think there is a similar initiative in Estonia.

    Technically, I think the samples belongs the one collecting them. What these companies buy is the exlusive cooperation with public healt authorities. Presumably, Jonah donates blood to a company which also collects genealogy info, it would all be in order. However, without clinical records, this information will no be so valuable.

    The deal seems good to me. A crucial fact is that Autogen is setting up a facility in Tonga, instead of shipping all the samples to Australia.
    Lars
    __

  • Maybe, maybe not. I'm not an expert, but it seems to me that if you could find some characteristic that only shows up in Tongans, anything from a type of skin pigmentation to the fact that they all have 3 legs (joking, but you get the point) and isolate the genes for that, it might be possible to create a virus that attacks only people with that gene. Maybe a retrovirus that inserts code to interfere with the reproduction of certain genetic sequences? Or am I talking out of my ass here? Please enlighten me if anyone knows more than I do.
  • As with any PR-consciencious commercial entity dealing in the unethically obtained genetic information through a deal with an opressive royal family (or so I am led to believe by other /.ers), I would suspect that it would be a police effort. Countries can stand to look bad (ie: Cuba) and leaders can stand to look bad (ie: Yassar Arafat), but companies cannot stand to look bad (ie: Microsoft coming up with the "Freedom to Innovate" PR releases to make it look like they weren't a monopoly).

    The real question is when will the organizations devoted to human rights step in?
  • The problem is that 96% of the genetic code is shared between humans and monkeys alone, and current studies suggest that only you are only 1% distinct of that 4% from the person sitting next to you. In addition, like was said before, you would first have to map a 'control' population in order to understand the 'ideal' genetic code, and then compare the 'ideal' with the Tongans to isolate differences (empirically derived is the term), and then find some way to alter a virus to target the strands.

    However, the very nature of the virus to attack a cell makes it nearly impossible to 'program' a virus to selectively attack cells which posses a certain DNA strand. To draw an analogy, it would be like being shown 3 identical black boxes, and that one of these has a bomb in them, and that you must get rid of it. But, add in the effect that touching the 'bomb box' will set it off, killing you, and it makes it nearly impossible to use some method to identify it.

    However, if the Tongans posessed something not genetically different but biochemically different, such as the presence of a minimum amount of such and such hormone, or the presence of some third-party cell/virus/bacteria within them all, then you could 'program' a virus to be such that. But I'm sure you'll find such a correlation between all Tongan's a statisical near-impossibility.

  • For the benefit of those who haven't heard of him, Jonah Lomu is the world's best rugby player and a Mack truck on legs, only faster :)
  • Typical bias. Hate to tell you this but monarchy != corrupt regime.

    The original poster made the claim that "Tongans who want a democratic system tend to find themselves in jail". Now, I can't comment on the validity of this claim, but nowhere did the original poster claim that Monarchy => corrupt. The poster was making the more specific statement that Tonga is undemocratic, corrupt, and imprisons dissenters.
  • I don't know how things work in Tonga. In Iceland, no-one is sampled simply because The Company wants a sample. This would be absurd, we're a democratic country.

    If, however, a sample has been taken for some reason and stored with your medical records, a copy of this would be sent to Decode along with your other records, but without personally identifying information. I.e. there would be a DNA sample and a medical history. Given a large number of these, you could statisticaly find genes that are likely to be related to particular diseases.

    Well, unless the person opts out, in which case those data would not be used for research.

  • Every report and every article written about Decode Genetics says that they have bought the rights to collect the genetic information about the whole population. This is just wrong.

    What they have bought the rights to is to build a centralized database with the medical journals of the people of Iceland will be stored and use that database to figure out statistics about diseases and correlate that with genealogical database.
    They will not have access to medical records of individuals, the can only look at statistics of anonymous groups.

    This has absolutly nothing to do with the DNA of the people of Iceland.

    Oh and "mere $200 million", don't forget that we get all the drugs that result from research done with the database for free, forever.
  • Speaking as a Brit, to get insurance anyway you have to give information on any history of heart disease/diabetes in your family anyway. This is only slightly different.

    You would have thought though that they'll soon find out that no-ones immortal and we're all genetically programmed to die of something at some point, making it a bit of a moot point.
  • But your white aren't you? You are subconcious racist, you write harmful things without even realising it.

    But I'm not white, and I agree with everything he said, so your argument falls down.
  • by judd ( 3212 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2000 @02:14AM (#607971) Homepage
    "monarchy != corrupt regime".

    Indeed not. But this one certainly has been. If you haven't found anything by searching, you haven't looked very far.

    A simple search on Google for Tonga and Corruption yields this:

    1. Imprisonment of dissenting journalists.
    http://www.transparency.de/documents/newsletter/ 98.2/reports.html
    2. Passports and citizenship are sold to foreign nationals.
    http://sunsite.anu.edu.au/spin/SPINDOC/larmour97 1.html
    3. The current land minister has been convicted of illegal land transfer deals in the 80s. Critics of his appointment as minister were imprisoned.
    http://www.tongatapu.net.to/tonga/news/briefs/ss 980319.htm
    4. The king dissolved the parliament after it voted to impeach the minister for corruption.
    http://jinx.sistm.unsw.edu.au/~greenlft/1996/250 /250p2b.htm

    Etc.

    I am not an American. I'm a New Zealander. (And I'm far from impressed with American efforts in the South Pacific thus far. Had there been an article about American Samoa, Kiribati, Paula, the Marshall Islands, etc, you would have seen criticism of US policy from me.)

    As it is, New Zealand has a large Tongan minority and Tongan affairs are commonly in the news here. I strongly suspect I'm better informed than you are.
  • by judd ( 3212 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2000 @02:19AM (#607972) Homepage
    > But your white aren't you?

    How can you tell? Suppose I'm an indigenous Australian? Would that change your view?
    What about if I were Japanese?

    >You are subconcious racist, you write harmful things without even realizing it.

    How was what I wrote harmful? To whom, precisely? If it was harmful to King Tupou, then I can't say I'm very sorry.

    > Only with long and painful process of soulsearching and admission of (historical) guilt can a white learn to live as a world citizen in a colorblind multicultural world.

    If you want to live in a colourblind world, you sure have a funny way of showing it :-)
  • The move GATACCA (pun of DNA notation) had hand gizmos that could check genetic identity in seconds. Currently, a crime scene gene analysis looks at several dozen gene markers, takes a couple weeks and costs a thousand dollars. But will it be faster?
    First, there are companies making nanotechnology highly parallel gene analyzers. They borrow chip circuit technology and put tens of thousands simple sequences on single device.
    Second, is what to analyze for? Part II of the genome project is to look for the *differences* in coding between humans. That amount is estimated to be about 0.1% of the 3% non-junk genes, or one hundred thousand base pairs.
    Given that Moore's Law seems to apply to all information technologies, I suspect both problems will make great progress in the next couple decades toward a GATTACA device.
  • IANAG, but I think this won't work. The most important thing is that viruses mutate and change so fast it'll probably strike back. Another concern is that humans are so alike genetically, it'll be very difficult to find something that hits only an ethnic group. That being said, selling a national genome seems like a Bad Idea [tm]. What they are hoping to get out of it, is probably more medical attention, but they are going to get quite a lot unwanted attention too, I suspect...
  • > In either event, I don't quite remember what happened to him after that.

    More info on the infamous "posture photos" here [urbanlegends.com], though I can't vouch for the site's veracity.

    Interesting is the comment that the tobacco industry did a study using the male photos to try to detect a link between smoking and, uhm, "manliness".

    I have heard elsewhere that some very famous women in US politics were photographed under the system; I don't see a link right off.
  • The difference is, in a democracy, people have *elected*, have chosen, to sell these rights. Under a monarchy or dictatorship they might not be able to. Many corrupt or dictatorial governments either look the other way, or gladly participate in the exploitation of their own people (sweatshops, coffee bean harvesting, etc. etc.). The difference is that democracies supposedly have a choice. Sucks to be you if you're stuck under a dictatorship that sells a big corporation rights to your labor, genes, etc.
  • True that Tonga has a good 'ol traditional monarchy, where being king means you're the damn king and don't argue about it, but that doesn't mean Tonga is some quaint place to be pityed.

    For all its fuedalism, Tonga has a terrific education system, great public health, and a general morality that most of us should envy.

    Oh, and the Tongan dollar is worth more than the greenback, and has been for a long time. Not that that has anything to do with anything, granted. And did I mention your kids can go to school without being shot at, and you can drive your pig down the trail without a drive-by shooting. And they're about the only country on earth that's never been conquored. By anyone. Including the English or the Americans. Until now.

    Sure, Joe Badnick is exploiting these great people. Let's just understand a bit about the place of which we speak. It ain't no Alabama.

  • "The difference is, in a democracy, people have *elected*, have chosen, to sell these rights. "

    Elected "democracies" have the RIGHT to sell exclusive access to the source code to it's citizens? I don't think so. No government that presumes to own it's people is a free country. Can't be. The principle of self-ownership is of first and foremost of all human rights. To deny self-ownership is to allow slavery. I'm no bigger a fan of state slavery than I am some plantation master owning other humans.

    If I as an individual CHOOSE to sell research rights to my genetic code to a company, then it's my choice, and it will be ME who is paid. To do this any other way is coercion.

    Any government which peddles in human flesh or human genes is already, or is about to be tyrannical. If the government set this up as an "opt-in" voluntary program where the individual CHOOSES to co-operate or not, and gets compensated, that's different. But these are cases of governments coercing participation (by granting exclusivity an individual cannot himself sell his own code to the highest bidder) for it's OWN enrichment. This is wrong in any moral sense. The governments are selling rights to things it DOES NOT OWN.
  • "Tongans-R-Us" franchises will soon be available. Please apply Autogen, Sydney, Australia.
  • As they used to say during the Counterreformation,
    Kill them all, and let God sort them out.


    According to some discussions, it was during the , a (now) Southern French fortress of the Albigensians, 13th century, I think. [ukans.edu]
    __
  • Would this work? There are lots of Sephardic and Yemeni Jews that lived centuries in contact with Arabs

    Well, during the Crusades, the Europeans killed Arab Christians along with Muslims. I suppose they thought they were all the "infidel"!

    A closer examination reveals that religion is often used as an excuse by the greedy to acquire property (see Salem Witch Trials, Spanish Inquisition, Holocaust, Crusades, current Israel occupied territories).
  • But it is fairly shocking that the Israelis, of all people, would contemplate such a Mengele-esque project.

    Read my quote at the bottom and then look at this book. [amazon.com]

  • IANAG too. The reason why virii mutate at a high rate is they use RNA, as opposed to DNA to carry thier genetic information. RNA is a single strand, while DNA is a double strand. This leaves RNA with little to no error correction, other than redundancy, to fix copying mistakes and radiation damage. It would be concievably easy to make a mutation resistant virus by using a lot of redundancy, perhaps even incorporating some protien based RNA repair. As for altruistic intentions on Tonga's part, as many have pointed out, this country just sold its gTLD, .to. Not a good sign.

  • This autogen company scares me. They were do illegal genetic research on... No wait, that was a James Bond movie. Sorry. Never mind.
  • I believe similar research was also done in Apartheid-era South Africa.
    I believe that the genes targeted were those which caused lactose intolerance in Africans, but not in the majority of Caucasians.

    More information on this nefarious research is available in the article Ethnic Weapons For Ethnic Cleansing [excludedmiddle.com]

    Regret for the past
    Is a waste of spirit

  • Anyways, some serious questions.

    I wonder if each individual person in each of those communities agreed to turn over his/her genetic rights or if it was by fiat? In other words, if I'm a poor Tongan or Icelander, do I get paid for my gene info, or is it taken by the government who has already been paid?

    Phrase the question another way: did the people of these communities agree to this or did their governments agree to it? Do the individuals get any proceeds from the multi-million dollar deals or does it go into the government coffers? What if an individual in one of these communities doesn't want to turn over their gene info? Do they have to? What if they don't?
  • They're selling their Country Specific TLD, their genome

    IS there anything that these tongan's won't sell?

  • Did you notice it was Joe Gutnick who signed the document? Im assuming its the same guy who owns coal mines and also the Melbourne Demons Aussie Rules Club. The Demons lost the grand final last year, and it appears that they need to get some genes from tongan rugby players to be added to make a super footy player. I'd also be interested in what jewish law states on something like this, Gutnick is a practicing rabbi.
  • Do my tired eyes deceive me? Has a company just bought 100,000 people?

    Yes, your eyes do deceive you, it's 108,000 people.
  • by Sheeple Police ( 247465 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2000 @11:44PM (#607990)
    If I had my psych notes, I could give you exact studies and what not, but this whole concept of selective breeding was explored by a psychologist, named Sheldon, under the guise that he was 'measuring body types'... the whole concept of ectomorph/endomorph/mesomorph was his classification for these, and through measuring Ivy League students (male and female) as they were accepted, he was trying to pattern the necessities for breeding an elite race of 'super-geeks' (I say geeks because they were Ivy Leaguers, but mind you, I know they were not *true* geeks, or at least not the LARGE majority).

    In either event, I don't quite remember what happened to him after that. Either there was a public cry much like that against Frankenstein's monster... or there was apathy... either way, I wouldn't place it very far in the future, with such atrocities occuring....

    Mind you, this was primitive studies, and in today's world of DNA manipulation and understanding, with the human genome mapped, you really have to wonder if there won't be some Neo-Sheldon who will attempt such a thing. I suspect it would be someone with a large amount of money and the guise of helping the public...

    and his name shall be Bill, for he shall be evil.
  • Hummm .. how long to the day when you'll see things like: "w3 0wn y0ur DN@ c0d3!" :) or "w3 h@xor3d y0ur w1f3 c0d3z! w3 0wn y0ur ch1ldr3n" :)
    MWAHAHAHA!! :)

    --
  • In Portugal when we get our ID card, they take our fingerprints, so there is national fingerprint database.
    Unfortunaly, I don't think it's computerized, so the benefits from it are next to none. Only criminals get into the police files, and those are in digital form.

    I remember that the US (and the UK ) do not have an ID card, so when you are asked to identify yourself you end up showing your drivers licence... That's nonsense...

    What are you afraid off?

    A World DNA database would help a lot in police investigations... And would allow lots of evil experiments to be done... Gee, are there any bones without a catch?

  • Article 12. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.


    An interesting thought if we were to actually see the company try to subject Tongan's to mandatory DNA testing. This is a UN document, so I don't know it's affect on Tonga, but it just reaffirms that the conspiracy theories many (including myself) have tossed around may be unfounded.
  • On the topic of Super Football player, you can go see the American bastardized-football version of the genetically enhanced uber-footballer in 6th day. Slightly relevant to your message, but an interesting movie.
  • If you want to study a very shallow and restricted gene pool you don't go to Tonga or Iceland, you go to Mississippi.
    When will they learn?
    --Shoeboy
  • If you want to study a very shallow and restricted gene pool you don't go to Tonga or Iceland, you go to Mississippi. When will they learn?

    That's the point. These genepools are fairly uniform, so any genetic deviations (we're talking statistics here, right) are easier to identify and correlating such deviations with particular illnesses becomes much easier.

    In fact, her ein Iceland, you are not entered in the database unless your ancesters a couple of generations back were all Icelandic. My great-grandfather was Norwegian, so I might have been rejected.

  • by VValdo ( 10446 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2000 @12:51AM (#607997)
    • NASA has purchased exclusive ownership of the positions of stars in the Andromeda Galaxy as well as all data regarding black holes and supernovas within 300,000 light years of Earth.
    • Information referring to the number of "stars of the heavens" and "the sand which is on the seashore" have been awarded to the natural sciences in a lawsuit against the omniciant almighty God (Lord vs. Descartes, 1624 p.23).
    • PiGen, the supercomputer supercompany have had their patent upheld on the previously undiscovered digits "32509328202" contained deep within "pi." The courts are expected to rule on whether people using circles, including donut shops, beachball makers, automobile manufacturers, and the Frisbee company (FRZB), are infringing.
    • The Madagascan ring-tailed lemur is demanding compensation from humans for "clear and blatant theft of gene-based opposable thumb technology."
    • Noam Chomsky is now enforcing his patent on the "lingustic genome," including most verbs, awarded after he demonstrated that communication via language is "the result of the unfolding of a genetically determined program." ( Interview to KBS TV, Kyoto, Japan [sk.com.br] )
    • The Children's Television Workshop has begun charging a license fee for commercial use of the letter "E" and the number "4." Consonants for the moment continue to be free.

    -------------------
  • Will you have to sign a EULA before conceiving a child?
    Offtopic, but when I used to shrink wrap software for a living, I would to tape license agreement stickers over my fly.
    By opening this package you agree to abide by the acceptable use policy defined by the manufacturer.
    This product is intended for non-commercial use only.

    It still amazes me that I didn't get fired from that place.
    --Shoeboy
  • As a resident of Reykjavik, Iceland, I am somewhat worried about the whole genetic database thing. As soon as the government consented, I went up to the registry personally and asked to be removed from the database (which they did). It's not that I have anything to hide, or that I even care. It's just that I'm sure there are plenty of people who wouldn't want insurance companies and private companies getting hold of their *very private* medical records. That aside, Iceland is a very small country with only 250 thousand people, and my mother, a doctor in neurology, working for the government, is forced to co-operate with Kari Stefansson, the major shareholder and CEO of DeCode Genetics on a daily basis as part of her job. It's very uncapitalistic to give a company like DeCode a monopoly on a research treasure like our gene pool.....;) Cheers
  • by The Dodger ( 10689 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2000 @01:00AM (#608001) Homepage

    Allegedly, Israeli scientists have identified certain unique features of the Arab/Palestinians' genome which don't appear in Israelis' genome.

    And this is in a country where a significant fraction of the population believe that the only bad thing about nuking the West Bank would be the radioactive fallout that would drift across the border in Israel. Of course, on the other hand, you have the Arabs, a significant fraction of whom think that driving Israel into the sea is a perfectly reasonable policy. Fun, fun, fun...

    Come to think of it, I guess that explains why the Israelis were so interested in developing their own neutron bombs. For the uninitiated, neutron bombs (invented by Dr Sam Cohen, who was part of the original Manhattan project, in cased anyone's interested in doing further research) are nuclear devices which, when detonated, generally produce a minimal blast and thermal effect, but they produce a substantial pulse of neutron radiation which penetrates hardened shelters and produces a destructive ionizing effect when it interacts with living tissue. In other words, such a weapon does not destroy buildings as much as it kills people.

    In other words, with a neutron bomb, you can kill everyone in a city, without destroying the city. Get rid of your enemies, and as soon as the radiation fades, move in, clean up the mess and you have a ready-built city. Cool, huh? 'Twas all the rage during the Cold War - any decent superpower just had to have one, dahling...

    Where was I? Oh yeah, genetic ethnic cleansing. I think that the knowledge and technology exists today to engineer a virus that kills only a certain ethnic group. Fortunately, noone seems to have done it yet.

    At least, as far as we know.


    D.
    PS: Yes, I am possibly the most cynical person in the world...

  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2000 @11:51PM (#608009) Homepage Journal
    Once the Tongan genome is mapped, they could engineer a virus that kills only Tongans. Food for thought, when selling your national genome...

    Someone had to put all that chaos there!
    ______ "Our 'n about"
    \_bi_/

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