Limited Taxation
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Barbara's Column
April 2001 #4

Genetic research hits home
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem Evening News
Thursday, April 19, 2001

Worried about air pollution from power plants, insecticides, or smoke? Afraid of salmonella or e-coli bacteria? Concerned that genetic engineering will destroy humanity?

I am not especially worried about any of these things. I am afraid of spaghetti.

There seemed no reason to suspect danger. Studies have shown that tomato sauce contains cancer-prevention properties. Pasta alone doesn't generally contain bacteria, fats, bad cholesterol or sodium. Add some cheese, and the combination is so good that you could eat it every day -- which I did, figuring the simple carbo choice saved on energy-consuming decision-making.

Also, it killed no animals and took little time and fuel to cook.

I thought the stiff and swollen joints were just, well, age. But after awhile I realized that I'm a long way from so old that I must stop climbing stairs or getting up from a chair. Something was wrong.

I looked up arthritis in a medical book but the symptoms didn't seem to fit. Other than being unable to move, I felt fine.

Meanwhile, I was reading a book about the human genome. I remember first hearing about DNA in high school: a science-oriented friend was all excited about the double helix. When I heard about the mapping of the genome last summer, it seemed as if I had been looking forward to that event my entire adult life. Despite follow-up arguments that the mapping is far from complete, this is probably the greatest discovery of our times: we are all its witness, and we are mostly paying no attention except to worry that someone is going to clone a human, which someone inevitably will.

I bought "Genome, the autobiography of a species in 23 chapters" (23 being the number of pairs of chromosomes in the human body), by Matt Ridley, published in 1999. If I didn't have to work for a living and sleep, I would not have put it down until I finished it.

There, in the midst of all the intellectual excitement about the latest technology, I stumbled on a reason for my arthritis-like pain. Like many descendants of hunting-grazing ancestors, I apparently should not be eating wheat. And almost every day for years I have been eating wheat cereal for breakfast and pasta of some sort for lunch and sometimes leftover pasta for supper.

I went looking for a book that I'd read last year and dismissed as silly dietary fad: "Eat Right for your Type" by Dr. Peter J. D'Adamo. But once I related it to the latest genetic research it began to make sense. And once I tested it by dropping wheat from my diet, and the pain went away, I was on my way to belief.

Think about it. While people are organizing to fight industrial pollution, they could be poisoning their own bodies every day with some of the basic food-stuffs recommended by the Surgeon General. Or in their concern for animal rights, they could be harming themselves as much as they would harm their pet cat if they fed it only vegetables.

Erin Brockovitch, meet Peter D'Adamo.

According to "Eat Right for your Type", people with Type O blood need red meat and vigorous aerobic exercise, and should avoid pasta and ice cream. People with Type B blood, on the other hand, can eat a varied diet and engage in only moderate swimming or walking.

Can't I just get a total blood transfusion?

Don't take my word for all of this. A little science in the hands of a liberal arts major is a dangerous thing. But if the theory is correct, well: it's one thing to eat your peas, and another to be on the cutting edge of technology. The attitude toward proper nutrition is different when you are part of an experiment that, if it turns out to be true, will make us healthy and wise.

Fear the genetic revolution if you will; I myself can imagine dire consequences if the government gets its hands on our individual genetic codes. Giant social issues will need to be addressed, and society hasn't yet caught up with the implications of television and the Internet. But like anything else, the new genetic-based technology can be used for good or evil. Cures will be found for disease. Despite all efforts to keep the genie in the bottle, human cloning will become commonplace. The world will change.

And I must change too, eating right for my type so I can move freely into as much of the exciting, amazing future as we individual human beings are meant to reach.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her syndicated columns appear weekly in the Salem Evening News and the Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in other newspapers.

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