7th August 1998
- United States Patent Office: Uri Geller, of Uri Geller GenePool Splashtronics, Reading, England. Jewish DNA coding. Dated December 31, 1999 – application filed July 31, 1998. Serial No. 365,998,412,345.
- To all whom it may concern: be it known that I, Uri Geller, dowser and paranormalist, do hereby declare the nature of this genome specification as follows:
- Chromosome combinations, comprising deoxyribonucleic acid molecules linked by carbohydrates in polymer chains, which uniquely impart the quality of Jewishness to a human being.
- Any person whose genes display this pattern may be deemed a Jew. Any person whose genes do not conform is not a Jew. This patent replaces former Judaic custom, stating that persons born of Jewish mothers are Jews
My imaginary patent takes as precedent the £125 million research deal between the Swiss pharmaceutical corporation Roche Holdings with a Reykjavik biotech company, DeCode Genetics. Their aim: to identify the genetic specifics which make Icelanders what they are.
Like Jews, Icelanders have been racially isolated for countless generations. Their detachment was geographic rather than cultural, but the net effect was the same – predisposition to certain diseases, certain personality traits, certain looks. With Jews it’s Tays-Sachs disease, dark eyes and hair, and an indomitable survival streak. With Icelanders, it’s diabetes, blond hair and blue eyes, and a sense of humour so dry you could use it as blotting paper.
The Iceland project isn’t the first of its kind. A study of 270 islanders on Tristan da Cunha – 90 per cent of that Atlantic outcrop’s population – identified two genes which could cause asthma, afflicting more than half of the subjects.
But Roche and DeCode aren’t spending £125 million to locate the possible causes of diabetes and Iceland’s other generic illnesses, schizophrenia and colon cancer. For American women seeking fertilisation by sperm donor, the most desirable characteristic – more than high intelligence, more than height, more than good teeth – is blues eyes.
The first scientists to patent the human gene for blue eyes or blond hair will be patenting a license to print money, in high denomination bills.
So when the DNA permutation is located that provides the Jews’ acute business instinct and deep family bonding, I want to be on the board of directors.
Already, patents are filed on genes determining Obesity (by Hoffmann La Roche), Baldness (Columbia University), Cardiovascular Disease (Myriad Genetics/Novartis), Alzheimer’s (Glaxo) and Melanomas (Millennium Pharmaceuticals).
It seems ridiculous that the rights to basic elements of human bodies can be owned by private corporations. But where immense sums of money are involved, ridiculous things happen – and the investment worldwide on the Human Genome Project to unravel our DNA code makes Israel’s defence budget look like pocket money.
How big is the project? Simon Foote of the Genetics and Bioinformatics Group puts it this way: “The human genome is comprised of some 3,000 million residues. Analysing their sequence is akin to taking 10 copies of the complete Oxford English Dictionary, all 12 volumes, ripping each page into 300 small pieces, placing all the pieces into a large barrel and thoroughly mixing them – then trying to put all the pieces together again.”
And incredibly, the first stage of this mindbending jigsaw is already complete. During the past decade, scientists have charted the Physical Map – a rough aerial view with major landmarks in place, which can now be redrawn in greater and greater detail.
If the Human Genome Project was simply a means to eradicating disease in future generations, it would pose major ethical problems. Should every foetus with congenital defects be aborted or doctored? Is a predisposition to Alzheimer’s or lung cancer reason enough for pregnancy termination? And if the answer to that seems easy, remember that Ashkenazi couples are routinely screened for Tay-Sachs abnormalities, and most Western hospitals test unborn children for Downs Syndrome and basic physical problems.
And it isn’t that simple – it’s obscenely complex. For individuals to protect their babies against gene disorders will be an expensive business. For organ donor companies, the profits will be limitless if cloning technology combines with DNA engineering to create animals which grow human body parts.
And for political regimes like Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s USSR, Botha’s South Africa or Saddam’s Iraq, the technique will exist to identify ethnic groupings with 100 per cent accuracy.
In Russia and Europe, 50 years ago, with birth certificates and labour camps as their crude weapons, the forces of anti-Semitism made a massive attempt at genocide.
Next time the brutality will be as great. But the weapons will be genome coding and abortion. And abortion is a sentence which no one can survive.
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