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Articles by C. Ben Mitchell

Found 3 Articles by C. Ben Mitchell

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A Promising Alternative To Embryonic Stem Cells

Groundbreaking news the week of Jan. 21 that scientists at the University of Minnesota may have discovered a potential method to treat disease also means there may be a way to put an end to one of the most difficult public policy debates of this new century. Catherine Verfaillie and colleagues at the Stem Cell Institute have found "miracle" stem cells that may well be the most versatile of all stem cells.

Stem cells are the precursor cells that make the nearly 240 different types of cells in our bodies. If stem cells can be directed at will to make needed tissues, then with a little help from their doctors, patients with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, diabetes, or other diseases might be able to create cells to treat their own illnesses.

Verfaillie has found these remarkable so-called "master cells" in adult bone marrow. Not only do they seem to possess amazing versatility, but they may be "immortal." Verfaillie's research indicates ...

Redefining Humanity

By any method of reckoning, we have entered an age of nearly unbridled biotechnological expansion. Futurists almost universally claim that the 21st century will be what Jeremy Rifkin has called "The Biotech Century."

Richard Oliver, professor of business management at Vanderbilt University, has announced, "The Bioterials Age will complete the triumph of economics over politics, which was begun in the Information Age. It will unleash forces stronger than nationalism and more powerful than the combined armies of the world." To coin a word, Oliver's characterization of this new age sounds extraordinarily "Technopian," and the list of technologies which are of concern is daunting:

• The ability to clone humans.

• Pre-determination of the sex of children and their genetic makeup.

• Pharmacogenomics, which directs and tailors drugs to the genetic makeup of individual patients.

• Genetically der...

Ours is an extraordinarily pluralistic culture. Throughout the strata of American life are innumerable sub-cultures. Not only do the panoply of religions, from Anglicanism to Zoroastrianism, exist side-by-side, but I even spotted a bumper sticker recently proclaiming the credo, "Born-again Pagan." The driver may have been an evangelical who was rejoicing in the grace of God in Christ, but I suspect he had something else in mind. Dotting the American landscape, especially in the looming urban centers, are sub-cultures of every fashion imaginable — body piercers, transgendered persons, psychic friends, cyberspace junkies — you name it and there's a sub-culture for it.

The Moral and Cultural Morass

On the back of our dollar bill is the once familiar Latin phrase, E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One). A reminder that America once was viewed as the great melting-pot culture, the phrase seems almost qu...