Monsieur le President, Chers amis, I always try to speak English when
I am on this side of the Channel.
I decided to change the title of this talk, because I realized we have
really to face a very curious phenomenon. These days, human intelligence is, so
to speak, submerged by two contrary waves. One is the marvellous wave of
understanding. Every day it tells us more about the marvel of nature, and every
day we are discovering new steps which bewilder us.
The other wave is an ominous one, the wave of obscurantism : it says,
it pretends to say, that the more we know about genetics, about mechanism of
life, the less we know agout human nature and about what is a human! And I must
say that in both of those waves, British people are playing a forefront role :
in science, as we will see latter, and unfortunately also in antiscience.
British scientists are in the forefront for the good wave of understanding, but
the British law makers are in the forefront of the disaster in the obscurantism
wave. And pondering over, the responsibility of your country towards family,
towards the future of mankind in front of those two waves of under-standing and
obscurantism, my wish could be very simple indeed. It would be : "Rule
Brittania" over those two waves! So you understand why I feel deeply grateful
for the people who received us as members of their family here.
To help you ruling over those waves, I would like to remind you of
some very simple facts. Living matter does not exist. Matter cannot live at
all, matter cannot even be reproduced at all. When you reproduce a statue, what
is reproduced is not the matter of the statue, because the replica is made of
something else than the original. What is reproduced is the information
imprinted in the matter by the genius of the sculpture. Then all genetics is
about discovering what produces the animation of matter : because matter can be
animated. We are animated matter. And if I could say so, I would state that
what matters is not the material. What matters is what makes information so
that matter can be animated. To sumarize Genetics, I would say : In life there
is a message and if this message is human, then this life is a human life.
Matter, if animated by a human nature, will be able to build a body in which a
spirit will manifest itself inside the flesh. That is Genetics. That is the
definition of a human being.
But now, if really spirit animates matter (which is the core of our
science of Genetics) we have to wonder whether the gifts of the Spirit could
not help us to understand what is life.
There are seven gifts of the Spirit, and I would like to wish you each
of them. My first wish would thus be : wisdom be with you!
You have possibly heard in this country, that we have had in France
last year a very important centennial ceremony about "Les droits de l'homme"-
Rights of Man. Well, you have probably not been told that twenty one years
after they were proclaimed officialy, a philosopher proposed to the French
Senate (it was under Napoleon's Empire), that a law should be enacted
forbidding doctors of suffocating between two mattresses people affected by
rabies! Twenty one years after the proclamation of man's rights still in Paris,
rabid patients were suffocated between mattresses! This proposal of the law was
not discussed at all by the Senate, it was just dismissed by a commission.
Twelve years later was born a child - his name was Louis Pasteur - and all his
life was a demonstration that those who liberated nanking from rabies and from
the plague, were not those who were suffocating rabid patients or who were
burning plague-stricken people in their houses.
But those who attacked the disease, not the patient.
As Louis Pasteur wrote, a doctor must be caring for everyone : without
asking what's your name, your race or your religion, but what's your suffering,
and trying to cure.
Medecine can be defined by very many systems of diagnosis, of
prognosis, of treatment, but it has one function which can be summarised in one
phrase - "hatred of the disease and love of the disabled". If we change
those terms of reference, if we begin to fight on the same side as the disease,
then really, truly speaking, eliminating the patient in order to eradicate the
disease, is exactly abortion of medicine. To understand that, let us take a
very simple example. In a hippodrome, when there is a casualty, you ask the
veterinarian to kill the horse, but you ask the surgeon to recue the rider. If
the surgeon kills deliberately the patient, then you have changed medicine for
veterinarian technique. Then I hope, in this country, you will have the wisdom
to continue to make a difference between the one who uses biology applied to
animals, and the one who applies biology to mankind.
My second wish would be that : understanding be with you! To respect
every man, to try to care for him without asking him all his qualities, we need
to know that every human being is to be respected just because he belongs to
our species and that everyone is unique and irreplacable. By the way, you know
that in your own language as in my language, we use the same term to define a
new human being coming to life and an idea arising in your mind. We conceive a
baby, we conceive an idea, conception is process both for the mind and for the
body of a new mind. And that is then written in the language itself that it is
the spirit which animates our animated matter.
That every human being is unique was known for hundred of years and
statistically demonstrated in our species at least Fifty years ago. The number
of combinations of genes is so great: that we were sure that everyone had a
specific constellation only to be found on himself. But that was a calculation.
Now we can see it. Two years ago, it. became of general use, the discovery made
in this country by JEFFRIES who started it around Four or five years ago. He
manipulated DNA and he was able to extract a very small probe of DNA, which
allows to recognise very specific segments of this very long message. I am not
going to tell you exactly the trick; of the trade, but when you extract the DNA
from cells, you split it with specific enzymes and then you have it migrating
in an elctric field, and you use the probe made by JEFFRIES. The result looks
very familiar. It is absolutely similar to the bar code that you find on any
object in the super market. You know these various lines of different width,
separated by different spaces, that a special optic; device will read, feeding
the information into the computer. Immediately the computer will tell you the
name of the product, the quantity resting in the stock, and the price of the
pack. The Jeffries technique tells us just the same thing. On one glance, we
will see that those bands are only found in this particular human being. But
let us suppose that you have studied the genetic bar code of father and of
mother of this child. We will find that each small line characteristic of that
baby, half of them come from the father and the other half from the mother. But
this combination is unique, as it was unique in the father, as it was unique in
mother. Now we know that, at first glance, we can say every human being is
unique and even we can have a computer able to read it, exactly like in the
super market. In fact our Jeffries bands are a kind of identity card which
cannot be falsified at all, that you carry with you all your life, and
demonstrate that you are this very person begot by these two persons. But here
is something the computer will never read: the price of this person: because
human life is priceless. That was understood in the way that you could not buy
a human being. Now, unfortunately, some scientists make an enormous mistake,
and they suppose that human life is priceless because it has no value. And that
happens in countries which have been civilised for generations, but who have
recently denied by a vote what all the masters of medicine had always sweraed
in all the languages of the world.
And that would be my third wish, that you keep some council with you.
Remember, nearly two thousand four hundred years ago, the founder of medicine,
Hippocrates, made all his disciples swear "I shall not give a poisonous drugs
to anyone, even if required to do so, and I will not suggest such a thing, and
I will not give any abortive drug to a pregnant woman". In the same phrase, he
said no to euthanasia, no to abortion. And for two thousand four hundred years,
all the masters of medicine have given that oath constantly. Having now the
demonstration that he was right, telling us every patient must be respected
because he is a human being, now there are voices pretending that we have made
progress. We can detect very early in utero some pathological conditions
directly deleterious for the baby. We can even detect minute difficulties, even
dispositions that will appear very late in life. We can, for example, detect
the gene of Huntington disease, which is a very severe nervous disease after
the age of forty (after forty years of perfectly normal life). We can also
detect Alzheimer disease, a very terrible dementia which is genetically
transmitted in some cases. That will make the people demented when they reach
the age of sixty, after a normal life for fifty nine years.
Now, is it wise, prudent, is it good counsel, to propose to kill the
patient because the disease has been detected early: in their life, during the
time that they were still inside the womb? I don't think it is good counsel.
Indeed, it is a heavy price that every generation has: to pay to diseases. It
is a heavy price for the patients in suffering, for the family in enduring and
for the society in helping both the patient and the family. But this cost, we
can calculate it absolutely exactly. This cost is tree exact price that
civilisation has to pay to remain humane.
I am not going to quote the Gnadentod (1) of the Nazis, the
Leben unwerten leben . I would quote a much more ancient history. You
possibly remember that in Greece, Spartans were killing their babies if they
did not look at birth strong enough to be soldiers later or to be women who
could carry fitter soldiers later. And those Spartans were the only Greeks
giving to humanity no one artist, no one scientist. They have not even left one
ruin. And they, were considered by as the most stupid people of the world.
Now, the question as a geneticist is very important. Why did this
happen in Greece, where those people were so clever, that one nation got that
brute. Two hypothesis are possible. One is that by killing the babies that they
were thinking were too frail, too fragile, in fact they were killing their
artist and their scientists,and progressively they became dull. That is one
hypothesis. I don't know that it is true. The other one is, it is because they
were already that dull that they began to kill their own flesh! And between the
two it is difficult to choose ; may be both of these hypothesis are
simultaneously partially true!
So my fourth wish would be that you have fortitude, because you need
fortitude to defend the future of mankind. I must confess that I don't read it
very often, but I received in February a copy of Hansart, which is the
compte-rendu of the Parliament of this country. I was for me a consolation for
the future, that the noble Lord of Norfolk was really the valiant warrior
defending the children to come in this country. This lecture of Hansart will
show you also, that even the promoter of the experiments on tiny Britons, Lord
Walton of Detchant, was obliged to recognise that during the last three years,
no achievement in medicine had been made by making use of early human beings.
Achievement in all the diseases which had been quoted three years before as
requiring experimention on human embryos, (Down Syndrome, Haemophilia, Muscular
Dystrophy and Mucoviscidosis) were obtained by science with no one embryo
having been at risk by scientists! Nevertheless, those chambers voted in
this country that a human being which is not yet fourteen days old is not a
British citizen, is, not even a member of our species! It is, for me,
unbelievable in the country of JEFFRIES, that such an enormous mistake can be
made; very young Britons are offered to vivisection if they don't yet have
enjoyed fifteen days of life. If it was true that, after fecondation, a human
being is not there, there would never be a human being there. And when reading
this inhumane law that early Britons are no longer members of the human
species, that they are not here, it comes to me to remember one of your
greatest authors, who I will misquote deliberately, that "if what they say is
true, there is something rotten in the kingdom of Nowhere".
My fifth wish would be than knowledge be with you. Nearly a year ago I
was testifying, thanks to my dear friend, MARTIN PALMER, in Tennessee; Seven
embryos were in the fridge but the parents were leaving each other, It was in
Maryville; the name of the lady was Mary, and at that time she wanted to rescue
her seven hopes who were frozen. The judge had to decide whether they were a
good which can be liquidated, or whether they were human beings who should be
protected. And he decided that they were not things, because there is not a
third category between things and human beings since slavery has been
abolished. And then he decided that they must be given to custody and he stated
that custody should be given to the parent; who will want the life of the
children, and not to the one who wants them to be frozen for ever. It was a
judgement of Solomon, and I can tell you, I was very close to the Judge at the
end of the deposition. And when he really, directly realised that three
thousand years later, he was to judge again like Solomon did, there was just a
little water in the eyelids of the justice. And again, the justice has been on
the same side as Solomon.
To understand this difficult question of the frozen embryos, let me
remember you that time and temperature are the definition of the flux of the
reality. If we diminish the temperature, we slow down the movements of the
molecules, which is a measure of the time elapsing, and we freeze the time. We
don't freeze really the life of the embryo, it is time which is stopped. Then,
if temperature comes back, life will manifest itself again. So that I said to
the Judge, those frozen embryos, for which the time is arrested, are so to
speak in concentration can. a In France they translated concentration
camp. A mistake, a double mistake, because a concentration camp is a
machine to accelerate terribly death, but a concentration can is a machine to
slow down terribly life. But in both cases, concentrationnary state is imposed
upon innocents. In a bottle of liquid nitrogen you can put three thousand tiny
human beings; if that is not concentration, the word "concentration" has no
meaning. What we have to do is not to ask the question whether we are allowed
to play with those people concentrated in the concentration can, that is not
the question. The real question must be that concentration should be for ever,
Strengsten verboten, absolutly forbidden.
To come to the sixth wish (and the seventh will be very short): piety
be with you. Piety is a reverence for those who have begotten you. But it is
very curious that the filial piety has been of extreme modernity since two
years. That was due to a discovery by Sorani in this country. He demonstrated
that dad and mum do not transmit exactly the same message to the baby. Because
man is, so to speak, underlying some sequence of the DNA on some given
Mother does the same, but not at the same points. Such was the
fantastic, discovery of Sorani. Nobody believed that before, nobody had
predicted it. This "imprinting" is achieved by methylation of one of the bases
of DNA, the cytosine. The details would be too technicals, but to understand
what it means is very clear ; that is, if an egg was produced with the normal
content of chromosomes, but all of them coming from mother with no DNA marked
on the male way, this egg is not a human being. It cannot develop itself in a
baby. It will just make various tissues, various specialisation of cells. It
will make spare-pieces, skin, teeth, nails, hairs, but will not build any
person. We call it a dermoïd cyst or a teratoma, a kind of tumor.
As a reverse, if there was only marking of the DNA on the male-wise
way, it would not be human being either. It will produce cysts, which look like
very much the little plastic bags, it will make a lot of them (we call it
hydatiformis mole) even it can degenerate in a cancer (we call it
chorioepithelioma). So we know, by the demonstration of this special imprinting
of the DNA by each sex, that we need to have one father and one mother to build
a human being. That is a kind of scoop in our days, because you read in the
newpapers, (it was even said on this stage!), that yoga could manipulate eggs
in order to beget between women! That is to take the nucleus of a girl friend
and include it inside the egg of a woman, so that the woman will become
pregnant from her lesbian partner girl. That hypothesis is not any longer in.
It is entirely out. We know from the discovery of Surani that nature will not
allow to do that; it would just make a teratoma, a kind of cancer, nothing
else. The same for the "gay nightmare" of producing a child by two different
males. That is taking out the legitimate nucleus of an egg and putting inside
two different sperms from two different men, and implanting it in some uterus
to be rented. It would not work. This is an entirely "has been" idea, it would
not be possible, it is forbidden by nature. Similarly, a clone taken from a
cell of a grown-up, will not be made. Even if you extract the nucleus of a cell
and put, it in an egg, it would not become a human being, because it does not
have this special imprinting which is only made during the maturation of the
male and feminine sexual cells.
So we learn two things: that "honour thy father and thy mother"
is really a commandment from God, because nature obeys it. You cannot have two
fathers and you cannot have two mothers only; and the second is that you have
to "honour thy father and thy mother in order for you life to be long on
this earth", because, il you do not have the genetic imprinting from your
father and your mother, you will not be conceived at all!
The last gift of the Spirit is Fear. But that fear is not the one that
you have when you come in the infernal of Dante. It is written on the door
"Those who come here, give up any hope". It is not this kind of fear that I
wish you will have, but it is a fear of abandoning the reverence for the
Creator, so that; you lose the respect for his creature. Technology is not bad.
Even interventions upon the human genome are not to be banned a priori, as long
as it is made in the interest of that very person in which it is made.
Every day we are getting more powerful, but not wiser. Then we get
more dangerous. One of the dangers, for example, is the abortion pill, the
Ru486. It is the first anti-human pesticide. It uses two different drugs. It is
a binary ammunition of chemical warfare. One, poison, the anti progesteron
paralyses the system which allows the baby to be nourished by the mother, and
the other a prostaglandine expels the baby. This binary ammunition should be
forbidden in the world. Did you know that Mr Bush and Mr Gorbachev have agreed
to destroy the stockpile of chemical warfare that they had in their countries?
I tell you, these deadly pills are used; if produced industrially, thy will
kill every year more human beings that Hitler, Mao Tse Tung and Stalin
The fear I am wishing for you was expressed in an old saying in Latin.
It said, "Timete Dominum et Nihil Aliud"; that means "Nave fear of the Lord and
of nothing else". That is the true liberty of the Spirit. And we need it
absolutly, because in the years to come, Science With Conscience will be
necessary to avoid the ruin of man.
(1) mercy killing.