April 12th 2008

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Red Star over Canberra

EDITORIAL: Behind the bid for UN Security Council seat

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Kevin Rudd's ideas summit looms

BIOFUELS: Ethanol doesn't have to compete with food

QUARANTINE: AQIS blamed for equine influenza outbreak

FINANCE: Right and wrong way to tackle financial crisis

STRAWS IN THE WIND: The American elections / Rudd's honesty / Conservative blues / NATO's fastidious peace-keeping

TAIWAN: KMT victory paves way for improved China ties

EUROPE: The Dutch disease - how low can you go?

BIOETHICS: Man - a vanishing species?

OPINION: Twilight of the British Raj

AS THE WORLD TURNS: Beijing's one-child policy a demographic powder-keg / A nation of dunces? / Fragility of the affluent society

High cost of foregoing trade deal (letter)

Finlandisation? (letter)

News Weekly's stand on global-warming (letter)

Earth Hour a silly idea (letter)

BOOKS: THE LITERACY WARS: teaching children to read and write in Australia by Ilana Snyder

BOOKS: ORIGINS: An Atlas of Human Migration edited by Russell King

Books promotion page

Man - a vanishing species?

by Babette Francis

News Weekly, April 12, 2008
Will the latest biotechnological breakthroughs finally dispense with the need for men in the human reproductive process, asks Babette Francis.

A revolutionary technique, developed last year by Kyoto University's Dr Shinya Yamanaka, of converting adult skin-cells into embryonic-like pluripotent stem-cells has been hailed by pro-lifers because it eliminates the need for manufacturing and destroying human embryos for their stem cells.

President George W. Bush's controversial ban on US federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research has been vindicated because it persuaded scientists to "think outside the box".

Yamanaka's induced pluripotent stem-cells (iPS cells) proved their worth when scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology demonstrated that these cells can be used to successfully treat sickle-cell anaemia in mice. Researchers who had tried the same experiment with cloning and failed, agreed that this demonstrated that iPS cells have the same potential for therapy as embryonic stem cells, but without the ethical dilemmas.

However, while the necessity for experimenting on human embryos has been eliminated, the technology raises other ethical issues.

"Strange and dangerous"

Yamanaka said the potential for iPS cells to develop into any kind of cell means that sperm and eggs could be made from the iPS cells of one person. He asked: "What if somebody took those sperm and eggs from a single person and fertilised them? The result would not be a clone because of the way cells divide during sexual reproduction - the fertilised egg would not be genetically identical to the original iPS cells - but it would be something very strange and dangerous."

Narcissistic radical feminists who would love to have "a baby of their very own" without any male input would not regard the technology as "strange and dangerous" but would doubtless welcome it. However, pro-lifers describe such reproduction as "the ultimate incest".

Then there is the technology being pursued by Newcastle-upon-Tyne University researchers who are trying to turn cells from women's bone marrow into sperm. This would enable lesbian couples to have their own children without hunting for male donors, and, as a bonus, the resultant babies would all be female.

The technology is also available to men, who could have their skin cells turned into ova, but they would need the co-operation of women as surrogate mothers to gestate embryos.

However, there would be no such problems for feminist separatists who flourish in the "wimmyn's" studies departments of universities. They have long dreamed of a world without men; now their dream is approaching reality. Thanks to no-fault divorce - mostly initiated by women - many men have already been marginalised in the lives of their children; now men can be made biologically redundant too.

Nature is ruthless in terms of biological imperatives - what is not necessary for the survival of a species can be eliminated. What with the imposition of radical feminist policies over ostensibly male-dominated parliaments - think of IVF-for-single-women legislation and Victorian Liberal Senator Kay Patterson's cloning bills - this could spell the end of men!

The male sperm-count is dropping alarmingly worldwide. There is speculation this is caused by oestrogen entering water supplies through women's use of the contraceptive pill. Oestrogen cannot easily be eliminated from water, unlike bacteria.

There is evidence that fish are changing sex - or as UN feminists would say, "exploring their gender options" - in water near sewage outlets. When male sperm-count plummets to zero, women may be able to manufacture their own sperm using iPS cells from their bone marrow.

However, we may still need men - if only because, like Dr Yamanaka, they have the scientific capacity to "think outside the box".

Remember the old joke about the feminists of the world who decided they had enough sperm stored in the fridges of the world and so they could get rid of all the men, which they proceeded to do? Unfortunately, there was a power failure which none of the women could fix, the fridges defrosted and the sperm perished, as did the human race.

I was reminded of that at a recent "Melbourne Community Consultation Event" held by the Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner at the Victorian Equal Opportunity Commission office in the city.

All the usual radical feminist cabal were there to expound on their grievances, plus a few dispirited-looking men. The event was 30 minutes late in starting because the sound system was not working, and none of the women in charge could fix it despite all their decades of equal opportunity education.

Eventually, one of the women had to narrate the dialogue to accompany the soundless videos we were shown. But all the time it made me nostalgic for a red-blooded, blue-collar male tradesman who could have fixed the sound.

Let's hope they - like men in general - are not a vanishing species.

- The author Babette Francis, B.Sc. (Hons), is national co-ordinator of Endeavour Forum Inc.

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