We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Great moments in biotechnology

Biotechnology may offer some relief to long-suffering sufferers of hayfever, according to this report.

The advance of summer is always slightly spoiled for me by this allergy. My eyes go red, I sneeze violently and have to take medication to keep the symptoms at bay, which for a son of a farmer from East Anglia is not very helpful.

So if the men in white coats can figure out a way to reduce this blight on my summers, here’s to them. Is modern technology great or what?

9 comments to Great moments in biotechnology

  • Crosbie Smith

    My own hope is to create the world’s first lager anti-histamine. On a hot day in June, what could be nicer than a icy-cold pint to take away the misery of hay-fever? Much handier that trying to find a chemist’s. My preliminary studies suggest this is a popular idea.

  • Heck yah, biotech is great. I truly hope they’re successful and go on to look at other allergens this way.

    I have to take Allegra (owned by a French co.) daily in Spring, but I finally took my father’s advice this year (he’s a physician) and started my daily regimen one month early (March 1st instead of April 1st), and that did the trick this year.

    When people think of “allergy attacks”, they’re not thinking of what I’ve gone through in the past. 1998 was the worst–I sneezed a thousand times a day, I had chest wall injuries from the sneezing which meant sneezing, coughing, even breathing were agony, my eyes itched and burned so much I felt like ripping them out of my skull, and I wore an “allergy mask” for weeks. Most people probably envision a sniffle and a dainty sneeze or three and a slightly red eye.

    I’m all for carefully bioengineered crops as well, as opposed to the haphazard cross-breeding and topical chemicals that are the alternative. Screw the Luddite “organic” anti-biotech contingent.

  • Allergies: Try 1000mg of Vitamin C, a couple of times a day.

    Worked better than expensive allergy medecine on my many and varied, but low level, allergies. Might not work if you are very susceptible to the allergen.

    It’s very _very_ hard to hurt yourself with pure Vit. C but it can be done. If you eat more than 10,000 mg per day you might want to be concerned enough to look it up.

    I am not a doctor, lawyer, YMMV, etc….


  • A_t

    I’m no luddite, but @ the same time, i’d say let’s just be cautious with this stuff for a few years more. The basic difference between biotech & any technologies that have come before is that it can be self-replicating. Our biotech experiments now are (in terms of developement) the equivalent of the early nuclear reactors. How happy would you be to have those early reactors still running, & have no way to shut them down?

    If we’re going to have allergy-free happiness for the remainder of the time humans are around in our present form, it doesn’t seem like too much of a sacrifice to leave it for a little while, just a few years, ’til we’ve had time to check more fully what the consequences are. We’re still messing with things we understand very little about. Previous messings with seemingly “inconsequential” aspects of life/chemistry have resulted in rather startling side effects.

    I know there’s the whole “frankenstein foods” anti-technology “keep it as god made it” bullshit brigade too, & i’m not on their side; fuck them indeed. They’re quite happy to live in this highly altered world we’ve created… why get all picky now?

  • A_t, that makes sense. I don’t know enough (err, anything) about the science to make calls as to how close they are or how careful. But caution is certainly called for.

  • Liberty Belle

    Crosbie Smith – You are a saint and I would put you forward for a Nobel Prize for services to humanity if the currency weren’t so devalued. The only thing is, as sneezing and itchy eyes occur most intensely first thing in the morning, would it be possible for you develop a line in bloody mary antihistamines? Extra tabasco and lemon juice should take care of any lingering medicinal flavour.

  • X

    A_t your post was so good up until that last paragraph. I thought for a moment that perhaps some on this board had finally awaken to the ecological and authoritarian dangers that technology presents. There can be no freedom until advanced technology is wiped out. If technological development continues at its fevered pace then we’re all doomed. As Bill Joy said, we
    re on the cusp of perfecting extreme evil.

  • I’m an Extropian. I won’t be happy until 85% of my body is replaced by superior mechanical parts and my mind is augmented by all manner of sensory enhancements, database management, and coprocessors.

  • A_t

    sounds quite appealing; i’d love an always-on brain-internet connection, so i could look up anything at any point; that’d be great. My unreliable memory could relax & not worry 🙂

    However, I seem to get adequate happiness as is, in my unaltered mind & body, so would be unwilling to risk much in order to obtain this connection. Wait til the technology’s proven, & enjoy what life you have now!

    X, i see your point… i definitely do; there are many, many possible negative (to say the least) developments that could occur, but how do you propose to stop scientific progress? How would you wipe out advanced technology worldwide? Seems like an impossible task. Surely in some respects it would be better for freedom-lovers to counter-technologise. I’m very much for the idea of personal disruptors; mobile phone disruptors have appealed for a while, to give me some peace on trains etc., and a CCTV camera disruptor would be top! (tho’ i have no idea how it could work) If ‘they’ develop gene sniffers, we could develop boxes that pump out gene signatures for 50 different people at once; get all your friends to donate a cell or 2, & they’re then cultured by the gene-spoofing box… etc. etc.

    Obviously, none of the above protect us from potential degradation of the planet’s biosphere, or the grey goo possibility; can’t really think of much that’d stop that.