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Life Created in the Lab

Scientists in the United States are trying to create a new life form in the laboratory. Despite the fact that the federal government is against stem cell research, it?s funding this project for 3 million dollars. This new life form could be eventually be used as a source of energy?or as a new biological weapon.

Dr. Craig Venter and Dr. Hamilton Smith plan to use a single celled organism called Mycoplasma genitalium, which is normally found in the human urinary tract, as a basis for the new life form. Some scientists worry that it could escape into the environment and contaminate natural organisms, but the scientists say they will remove some genes so it won?t be able to infect humans and will die if it escapes from its petri dish.

The scientists will remove all of the bacterium's own genetic material and replace it with an artificially synthesized chromosome. Then the new cell will divide and produce a new generation of man-made cells.

The first synthetic virus has already been created by another team of researchers, using the genome sequence from the polio virus. But scientists don?t think it can be classified as a true life form because viruses aren?t regarded as "living" since they need host cells in order to reproduce.

Ethicists and religious leaders are concerned about the ethical implications of creating artificial life. Scientists assured us that genetically-modified food could not mix with regular crops, but this has proved not to be true. Since so much scientific research is classified, people wonder if we can trust scientists to put this new life form only to beneficial uses. Perhaps there will be a future on Earth where human and artificial life exist side by side?will humans be able to stay in control?

Do humans have a life after death?and if so, what is it like? Kurt Leland thinks he knows and tells all in ?Otherwhere? and ?The Unanswered Question,? click here.

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