Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Conundrum in Fourth Century B.C. - Gynecologically Speaking!

(Taken from "Uppity Women of Ancient Times" by Vicki Leon)

Athens was a bore for well bred ladies in the fourth century B.C. Only women who were foreigners, courtesans, or oddball aristocrats who didn't care about convention got to mingle. But Agnodice figured out a way to buck convention - she put on men's clothing to become a doctor, attending medical lectures and specializing in gynecology. She understood women's qualms about being examined by a male doctor and figured she could corner the business when she became a doctor. Sure enough, it worked - but it made the other doctors jealous of her popularity with their clients. So they dragged her into court on a morals charge. To prove she wasn't a man, Agnodice had to expose herself to the judges - not to be thwarted, the jealous doctors then charged her with practicing a profession limited to men. Agnodice had to plead guilty to that charge but she was acquitted. Athenians finally changed the law, opening the door to other female physicians.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Gentically Modified Chickens - Oh MY!!

As a former Laboratory Technician, I receive updates from the American Society for Clinical Pathology. A few days ago, the ASCP informed me that scientists have successfully found a way to stop the Bird Flu from spreading, thereby creating a way to stop a type of influenza that could cause a pandemic.
This feat is accomplished by adding a gene to the embryo while it is still in the egg and it will produce a decoy RNA which interferes with the machinery that viruses use to make copies of themselves - thus spreading the virus. So although the chicken will eventually die from the flu - it cannot pass it on to other birds or people.
I was thinking "Wow! This is Great News- what a great service to mankind!" but then I kept reading. Further down into the article was this statement - "However, lots of additional research would be needed to see if the resulting chickens and their eggs would be safe to eat". Uh-Oh.
So on the one hand, you can stop the spread of a harmful virus thus saving millions of dollars spent on doctors, hospitals and medicine and save the lives of numerous children and elderly people who are susceptible. BUT it might make the food supply harmful at the same time. What a conundrum!!

Gentle Reader - my question to you is - Is it worth it? Is a genetically modified chicken worth it?