Is Homo Erectus Extinctus An Elite Agenda? ~ Part 1 of 2

Submitted by SadInAmerica on Thu, 04/24/2008 - 8:39pm.

Is nature determined to make men extinct?

By the extrovert standards of our parliament, it is a surprisingly quiet debate, but one that will have all manner of implications. The Human Tissue and Embryos Bill, which is expected to become law next summer, says controversially that the fathers of artificially conceived children need not necessarily be recognised by the state. Are fathers destined to become redundant?

The bill is a reflection of much wider scientific and social changes. The technology to produce artificial sperm, or even create offspring from two females, is already in the pipeline; in addition, genetic evidence has shown that the Y chromosome, the only one that confers maleness, is in a long-term evolutionary decline.

And if that were not humiliating enough for men, in sizable communities across the country lesbians are not only forming partnerships, but they are openly bearing and raising children together, secure in the knowledge that British society now accepts such a lifestyle choice. Do men have a future at all?

The Y chromosome has scant function other than the production of sperm, and in many men it is not performing well. Male infertility is already surprisingly common: about 7% of men, or 1 in 13, are affected, often as a result of a defect in the coding mechanism for sperm production on the Y chromosome.

Scientists hypothesise that there is more scope for errors in the DNA to build up: as it replicates in sperm production, "mistakes" can tend to creep into the Y chromosome. In fact, Y chromosomes only have about 27 genes - the rest of the chromosome is composed of "junk" DNA that does not code for anything. This process has gone even further in other species: in kangaroos, for example, the production of male offspring comes from one solitary gene on the Y chromosome.

While other chromosomes pair up and swap DNA during the production of embryos, the Y chromosome in men does not do this. It is passed unchanged from generation to generation of fathers and sons, and while it has provided genealogists with a fascinating insight into the origins of entire communities, it has also raised other questions. The lack of ability to recombine means that Y chromosomes can't repair themselves. A growing number of men have inherited a Y chromosome that was damaged during the production of their father's sperm. There is considerable evidence that sperm counts are declining overall, and in some men the inherited damage to sperm production is so great as to render them infertile.

Bryan Sykes, professor of human genetics at Oxford University and author of the book Adam's Curse, is convinced that men will die out as the Y chromosome withers. He has calculated that, at the current rate of decline, heterosexual reproduction may only last around 125,000 years. "The core sex is female," he says. "Male infertility is high because genes on the Y chromosome are packing up all the time. Many species become extinct because their Y chromosomes apparently disintegrate. In the end, the same thing will probably lead to the extinction of the male gender."

The only glimmer of hope, he believes, may lie in the experience of the mole vole. This tiny rodent native to the Caucasus mountains of central Asia seems to have lost its Y chromosome somewhere down the evolutionary millennia, but the genetic material that confers maleness has nimbly transferred itself to another chromosome. If the Y chromosome turns out to be as useless as Sykes suggests, it would be possible to move the human SRY (the sex-determining region of the Y chromosome) and associated "maleness" genes to another chromosome and produce males with two X chromosomes.

A surprising number of animals can reproduce without male involvement if there is no other option. Sharks and lizards have demonstrated this ability in captivity. It was previously believed that the process was impossible in mammals such as humans because male sperm cells and female egg cells undergo a process called imprinting. In imprinting, sections of each cell's genome are silenced to allow the set of genes from the other parent to be expressed, so that when the egg and sperm cells combine, the genes in the resulting embryo are not competing with each other.

It has now been discovered that it is possible to interrupt this process by deleting just two sections of genetic material on the genomes of female mice - animals very similar, for reproductive purposes, to humans. Immature egg cells that have not begun any of the rest of the imprinting process are fused with a mature egg from another mouse, and activated by an electric current to begin dividing. These new cells will produce a ball of cells just like a normal early embryo.

Elsewhere, producing a child that is the genetic offspring of two females is becoming a real possibility - and the process is not nearly as difficult as was previously thought. Artificial sperm produced from bone-marrow cells has already led to pregnancies and live births in mice. Last summer a Japanese team announced that female mice had been made pregnant using cells from other females, and given birth to completely healthy babies. The success rate was about one in five, roughly the same as that achieved by human infertility clinics. The only drawback was that the baby mice grew into adults that were on average 20% smaller than normal mice, but the researchers expect to rectify this problem once the imprinting process is better understood. Their message is that there is nothing unique provided by the male in sexual reproduction - only properly imprinted chromosomes for the production of a new human baby.

Others are keener to help keep men going. One of the world leaders in the field, Karim Nayernia, professor of stem-cell biology at Newcastle University, has already shown that unlimited sperm can be derived from early stem cells present in an embryo. He has also proved that it is possible to overcome the shortage of donor sperm by using the stem cells stored in bone marrow, generally destined to provide replacement blood cells on demand.

Such manufactured sperm would initially be used to restore fertility in men made sterile by cancer treatment, but the technology has other possibilities. Nayernia is awaiting ethical approval to see if he can also produce synthetic sperm cells from women's stem cells. "We want to see if we can test the functionality of female sperm produced in this way," he said. "There would be no possibility of using it for human reproduction. We want to use it to make other tissues."

He acknowledges, however, that scientists cannot control the use of such knowledge. Once the technology is there, it will be very attractive to lesbians. How long before it is routinely used is another question. "The timescale will be dictated by ethical concerns rather than scientific ones."

Bill Ledger, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Sheffield, is among the British infertility experts who over the past four decades have presided over the creation of tens of thousands of babies by IVF. "The traditional model of a normal family is long gone in the West," he says. "It is unjust to allow gay people to have equal-partnership rights and not allow them to have children. The shortage of human sperm donors will inevitably increase pressure for novel methods of reproduction. There is no evidence of harm to children brought up in nonconventional families, though it will be some time before we know if the research on this is right or not."

Meanwhile, the Human Tissue and Embryos Bill may be recognising the new approach to parenthood put forward by the lesbian community, but it will also open a new can of worms by redefining parenthood as a legal responsibility rather than a biological relationship.

The proposed legislation makes provision for a child to have two female parents, but there is no discussion of the concept of a female father. Earlier this year the parliamentary committee that scrutinised the bill said that if the technology becomes available to create a baby without the need for male involvement, then "any question of whether such an embryo should be allowed to be inserted into a woman should be a matter for parliament to decide".

It is a comment almost touching in its naivety. It is not a question of if, but when - and it is also highly unlikely that the first such babies will be created here. The most up-to-date research suggests that this might happen in 5 to 10 years. British women wanting such a child will simply go abroad for the treatment, and parliament will be one of the last places to hear about it.

Lois Rogers - December 16, 2007 - posted at

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Submitted by SadInAmerica on Thu, 04/24/2008 - 8:39pm.