Swedish Academy Bestows Its 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry on Yet Another Trio of Vivisectors Whose Discoveries Are Maiming and Killing Cats
"Doctors who speak out in favor of vivisection do not deserve any recognition in society, all the more so since their brutality is apparent not only during such experiments, but also in their practical medical lives. They are mostly men who stop at nothing in order to satisfy their ruthless and unfeeling lust for honors and gain."
-- Dr. Hugo Knecht
Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose. At least that is how the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (Kungl Vetenskapsakademien) in Stockholm does business.
That was proven once again on October 8th when it awarded its 2008 Nobel Prize in chemistry to a trio of thoroughly ruthless United States-based vivisectors. Specifically, the scientists were recognized for slaughtering millions of jellyfish in order to rob them of their green fluorescent proteins (GFP) which have emerged over the past decade as the predominant tagging tool in molecular biology.
As horrendous as that is, it is merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg. What the Academy and the thoroughly dishonest capitalist media go to such great lengths in order to conceal from the public is that these glow-in-the-dark proteins are then fused with the genes of every diabolical disease known to man and systematically injected into millions of defenseless cats, monkeys, pigs, rabbits, mice, and countless other animals.
Researchers thus are able to track the spread of these diseases as they invade and destroy cells and tissues. They no doubt also get a big kick out of reducing perfectly healthy animals to quivering rotting pieces of flesh.
After they have been horribly disfigured and made to endure weeks and often months of prolonged suffering they are then unceremoniously killed and dissected so as to provide the vivisectors with one last opportunity to admire their handiwork.
Singled out for their barbaric crimes against the animals of this world were eighty-year-old goat Osamu Shimomura of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, Martin Chalfie, 61, of Columbia, and Roger Y. Tsien, 56, of UC-San Diego. The trio will split $1.4 million and each receive a gold medal and a diploma. A free trip to Stockholm also is included in the package so as to afford these sadistic little fiends with an opportunity to strut their stuff for the cameras.
Whether or not they are actually torturing and killing cats and other mammals is morally irrelevant because it is precisely their naked exploitation of jellyfish that has made it possible for their colleagues within the scientific community to mercilessly appropriate other species for their own evil designs. Besides, no one ever has heard any of the laureates utter a syllable either in condemnation of the cat killers or in defense of any animal.
Shimomura, an old hand at torturing and killing animals, got the ball rolling way back in 1953 when he signed on as a dog's body to Yoshimasa Hirata at Nagota University in Chikusa-ku. It was there that he first isolated a luminescent protein in ostracod mollusks (Cypridina). (See photo of him above.)
He then packed up his carpetbag and moved on to greener pastures at Princeton where he continued his research alongside Frank Johnson. In 1961, he and Johnson began carving up bioluminescent jellyfish (Aequorea victoria) by the millions that Shimomura had stolen from Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington State. It was in those fish that he discovered GFP which not only revolutionized molecular biology but earned him his Nobel Prize.
Chalfie, on the other hand, was the first scientist to make a practical application of Shimomura's discovery and he did so in 1994 by successfully injecting GFP into Escherichia coli and a transparent roundworm known as Caenorhabditis elegans. (See photo of him above on the left.) This made it possible for scientists to use GFP as a universal genetic marker.
To give credit where it is due, Chalfie's breakthroughs would not have been feasible without the invaluable assistance that he received from two other scientists who were summarily snubbed by the Academy. The first was his graduate assistant Ghia Euskirchen who carried out his experiments.
No one should be singing any sad songs for her, however, because she has landed on her feet and now is living high on the hog at Yale. Douglas Prasher is an altogether different story.
While at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, he was the first to sequence and clone the gene responsible for GFP. When his funding ran out in the early 1990s, he idiotically gave copies of the gene to sharpies Chalfie and Tsien who exploited his generosity in order to garner Nobels for themselves.
Now, out of scientific research for two and one-half years, Prasher earns a measly $10 an hour chauffeuring a courtesy shuttle bus for Bill Penney's Toyota in Huntsville, Alabama. (See photo below.)
Stone-broke and beset by depression and other health woes, he is, quite understandably, a bitter man. "It's a cutthroat world out there," he complained to the Cape Cod Times on October 11th. (See "Shuttle Driver Reflects on Nobel Snub.")
Although he most likely will land another position in animal research sooner or later, it is encouraging to see that at least one vivisector has gotten something remotely approaching his just deserts. It is regrettable, however, that the Fates have not seen fit to reduce Chalfie, Shimomura, Tsien, and the remainder of their godless lot to similar fates, such as either cleaning toilets or serving as human guinea pigs.
Tant pis, Prasher is so shameless that he even has resorted to begging for handouts. "If Marty and Roger want to show me some gratitude, they can always send some cash," he appealed to them through the Cape Cod Times in the article cited supra.
He would be well advised not to hold his breath because the professorial ranks have long been comprised of some of the stingiest old farts ever to have tramped the planet. Because of the exalted positions that they hold, they consider themselves to be exempt from all moral and humane considerations; consequently, it is always a case of what society can do for them and never vice versa.
As for Shimomura, Prasher undoubtedly knew better than to ask him for a share of his loot. Besides, the old man most likely already has budgeted his quid toward ransoming his black soul out of Hell once he takes that long ride on the dragon in a few years.
Tsien, the third laureate, enlarged upon the work of Shimomura and Chalfie by manipulating GFP so as to create cyan, blue, and yellow variants. (See photo of him below.) This advancement allows researchers to track several molecular processes simultaneously.
While the Academy was busy acknowledging Tsien's work, it at the same time was giving the cold shoulder to the discoverer of the more useful red fluorescent protein (RFP). This breakthrough was made by Sergey Lukyanov of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow through the study of corals at an aquarium.
Like the killing of jellyfish, this is another disastrous development. Because of rising ocean temperatures, pollution, and the damage inflicted upon them by commercial fishermen (e.g., dropping anchors on top of them) and recreational scuba divers and snorkelers, coral reefs are dying. Demand from jewelry manufacturers and aquariums also is having a deleterious effect upon them.
Nor should it be overlooked that the discovery of RFP was made possible by the already existing naked exploitation of corals by aquarium operators. Moreover, vivisectors' demand for RFP will only accelerate the decline of coral reefs around the world.
The laureates' reaction to their elevation ranged from indignation to hubris to humility. Shimomura, par exemple, told the Los Angeles Times on October 9th that he was a little put-off that he did not win a Nobel in physiology and medicine. (See "Three United States-Based Scientists Share Nobel Chemistry Prize" and the CBC's As It Happens, October 8, 2008, "Nobel Winner.") He therefore will be forced, at least for the time being, to make do with his Nobel in chemistry.
True to form, Chalfie was every bit as full of himself in the limelight of victory as he is in the obscurity of his classroom. "I decided to find out who the schnook was that won it this year," was his cocksure response to The New York Times on October 9th. (See "Three Chemists Win Nobel Prize.") "So I opened up my laptop and found out I was the schnook."
Tsien, on the other hand, was both humbled and thrilled. "It wasn't necessarily the case they had to give it to me," he told The New York Times in the article cited supra. "Obviously, it's pretty nice to hear."
It is not saying much but he at least has enough humanity remaining in his wicked old bones to recognize the invaluable contribution made by the tens of millions of jellyfish that he and his colleagues have slaughtered in the course of their pursuit of fame and fortune. "None of this would have happened without the jellyfish," he confessed to the Velvet Coffin in the article cited supra.
The reaction from their peers was every bit as glowing as the vivisectors' defenseless lab animals once injected with GFP and RFP. "The green fluorescent protein, GFP, has functioned in the past decade as a guiding star for biochemists, biologists, medical scientists, and other researchers," the Academy howled on its web site. (See "How the Jellyfish's Green Light Revolutionized Bioscience.") "Thanks to GFP's green light scientists can now track a single protein under the microscope."
"GFP is the microscope of the twenty-first century," Mark Zimmer, a high-strutting chemistry professor at Connecticut College in New London, crowed like a bantam rooster in a bylined companion piece for the Los Angeles Times on October 9th. (See "The Little Protein That Glowed.") "In technicolor, it lets us see things we have never been able to see before. And, like a microscope, it has completely changed the way we think about science."
Bruce Burstein of the American Chemical Society told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on October 8th that "this is chemistry at its very best, improving people's lives." (See "Glowing Praise: Nobel Awarded for Fluorescent Jellyfish Protein.")
The laureates' research is "an essential piece of the scientific toolbox," Jeremy M. Berg of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, which funded their work, told the Los Angeles Times in the main article cited supra. "It is impossible to overstate the impact of these investigators' work on scientific progress."
That is sans doute a true statement as far as it goes but not necessarily in the way that the dishonest Berg would have the general public to believe. Like almost all scientific and technological discoveries, fluorescent proteins will do far more harm than good to the human race, the animals, and the environment.
Nevertheless, according to the scientists' well funded department of agitprop, the discovery of these fluorescent proteins is going to lead to cures for practically every known ailment under the sun. Their laundry list of diseases to be eradicated includes, inter alia, Alzheimer's, cancer, heart disease and strokes, AIDS, spinal cord injuries, diabetes, gangliosidosis, narcolepsy, glaucoma, and amblyopia.
These proteins additionally are touted to be of assistance in retarding aging as well as being invaluable to stem cell research, cloning, and organ transplantation.
Anyone naive enough to fall for that pap is as foolish as those who are planning on voting for either a Republican or a Democrat in next month's sham elections. Nevertheless, as P.T. Barnum is credited with having once said, "there is a sucker born every minute."
First of all, some of the best minds that ever have lived vehemently deny that animal research is applicable to humans. Moreover, even if scientists should one day discover cures to certain diseases it is a foregone conclusion that the masses, who have financed their research through their tax dollars, will never benefit from them.
Today, at least fifty million Americans do not have any form of health insurance at all and at least an additional one-hundred million have inadequate coverage. Given that reality, what reason is there to believe that the scientific community would ever make available affordable cures to catastrophic diseases? Au contraire, the only individuals who benefit from the vast majority of advancements made in science are the scientists themselves and the capitalists that they serve.
Just as the bailout of Wall Street is destined to perpetuate the entrenchment of a permanent class of crooks and scoundrels, advancements in the sciences serve only to unnecessarily extend the lives of the worst elements within society. Arthur Conan Doyle, a practicing physician himself, certainly was aware of that danger when he had Sherlock Holmes skewer Professor Presbury's attempt to discover the fountain of youth through drugs.
"There is a danger there -- a very real danger to humanity. Consider, Watson, that the material, the sensual, the worldly would all prolong their worthless lives," Holmes told his friend and colleague, Dr. John Watson, in The Adventure of the Creeping Man. "The spiritual would not avoid the call to something higher. It would be the survival of the least fit. What sort of cesspool may not our poor world become?"
English novelist and philosopher John Cowper Powys put the case against science even stronger when he once asked, "What is the importance of human lives? Is it their continuing alive for so many years like animals in a menagerie?"
He went on to correctly assert: "The value of a man cannot be judged by the number of diseases from which he escapes. The value of a man is in his human qualities -- in his character, in his conscience, in the nobility and magnanimity of his soul."
He finished up by putting his finger on the very essence of everything that is so terribly wrong with vivisection. "Torturing animals to prolong human life has separated science from the most important thing that life has produced -- the human conscience."
Of course, nearly everyone wants to live for as long as possible. Perhaps no one has more eloquently summed up the tragedy of death better than Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov when he defined it as "the extreme sense of debasement, the mockery and horror of having developed an eternity of sensation and thought within a finite existence."
While the loss of humanity's handful of great souls is truly regrettable, it is more than compensated for by the knowledge that the world's multitude of evil and worthless people must sooner or later also perish. At least that is the way things used to be before science and capitalism became so powerful that they were able to overturn this age-old equilibrium.
Since the scientific community is so tight-lipped about what goes on inside its laboratories, there really is not any way for a layman to state with any exactitude how many animals these monsters kill each year. Based upon the fact that more than ten-thousand research papers were published on GFP and RFP during 2007, it is probably safe to assume that at least ten times that number of animals were killed just studying those proteins. In reality, the total number probably was much greater.
The full extent of the devilry made possible by the development of luminescent biological markers is nowhere more readily discernible than in the scientific community's dastardly crimes against cats. In 2007, Kong Il-Keun and his assistants at Gyeongsang National University in Jinju were able for the first time to clone cats with altered genes. RFP was used in order to verify that the deviant genes had been passed down to the cloned kittens.
An unspecified number of Turkish Angora cats died during the initial cloning phase of the experiment and the survivors were killed off at its conclusion as a reward for their service to the advancement of science. In the photo above the cat on the left has been genetically modified and thus glows red when placed under an ultraviolet light whereas her companion on the right is described as a "normal cloned cat."
The significance of this development lies in the fact that researchers can now genetically modify cats at will, like lab mice, in order to study any one of a number of deadly diseases. "The technology used to produce cloned cats with manipulated genes can be applied to clone animals suffering from the same diseases as humans," Kang confirmed earlier this year. (See Cat Defender post of February 1, 2008 entitled "Cats Are Destined to Be Treated as Horribly as Lab Mice Now That Vivisectors Are Able to Clone Them with Altered Genes.")
The despicable crimes committed against cats by Kang and other vivisectors have been greatly facilitated by the National Cancer Institute's decoding of the feline genome in 2007. (See Cat Defender post of November 5, 2007 entitled "Decoding the Feline Genome Provides Vivisectors with Thousands of New Excuses to Continue Torturing Cats in the Course of Their Bogus Research.")
GFP also is being used as a biological marker in genetically altered rhesus macaques in order to study Huntington's Disease. (See photo above.) As with Kangs' Angoras, the protein is used to verify that the defenseless monkeys have received the crippling neuro-degenerative disorder.
Beginning with researchers at the Institut fur Molekulare Tierzucht und Haustiergenetik at Ludwig Maximilians Universitat in Munchen in 2003 and continuing at National Taiwan University as well as in research laboratories in China in 2006, innumerable pigs have been colored with GFP. (See photo above.)
Already horribly abused by farmers and slaughterhouses for centuries, pigs also are being killed and dumped off Vancouver Island so as to provide researchers with a model to study the rate at which human corpses decompose under similar circumstances. (See Stern, October 13, 2008, "Forschen an verwesenden Schweinen.")
Even fish and insects, such as butterflies, have not escaped the vivisectors' phosphorescing efforts. (See photo above of a zebra fish.)
It is laboratory mice, however, that are as usual the most systematically abused of all mammals. (See photo above.) Millions of them are injected with deadly cancers and other diseases while others have their whiskers cut off and the tops of their skulls removed so as to provide their tormentors with a view of how their brains respond to trauma.
Sometimes vivisectors just like to demonstrate how clever they are as was the case last year when a group of them from Harvard mixed and matched GFP and RFP in order to paint the brain cells of a mouse in ninety distinct colors. They shamelessly dubbed their creation "Brainbow." (See photo below.)
Earlier in 2002, artist Eduardo Kac paraded around the world exhibiting, for money and fame of course, a green-glowing rabbit named Alba. (See photo at the bottom of the page.) Some toys now even contain fluorescent proteins.
Nikica Zainovic of the Weill Medical College of Cornell University in Manhattan even has injected GFP and RFP into human embryos. Although the embryos were destroyed once they reached the blastocyst stage, it surely is only a matter of time before glow-in-the-dark humans become a reality in spite of whatever the scientific community maintains to the contrary.
About the only thing positive to be said about that prospect is that it not only would negate the necessity of shopping for a Halloween costume but it also would allow discos to save a few shekels on lighting. (See New Scientist, May 12, 2008, "GM Master Race...Well, Not Quite.")
The only known halfway nonlethal application of this new technology has been in the field of environmental remediation. Inserted into bacteria, these proteins are capable of detecting the presence of such deadly chemicals as arsenic and TNT as well as land mines. In the final analysis, however, even this application is hard to justify due to the toll that it exacts upon jellyfish and corals.
The portrait of the scientific community that emerges from all of this is not altogether that different from the one of the crooks on Wall Street and the authors of the Bush Administration's policy of "shock and awe" in Iraq. In all three instances a small coterie of evil men and women are killing and looting for both fun and profit while simultaneously hiding behind an elaborate smokescreen that depicts them as wise and decent human beings acting on behalf of the public good.
In the October 2nd edition of Counterpunch, author William Blum defined capitalism as "the theory that the worst people, acting from the worst motives, will somehow produce the most good." The absurdity of such a notion is no less relevant when applied to vivisectors such as Shimomura, Chalfie, Tsien, and their colleagues.
Leo Tolstoy certainly was not about to be taken in by the pretensions of the scientific community. "What I think about vivisection is that if people admit that they have the right to take or endanger the life of living beings for the benefit of the many, there will be no limit to their cruelty," he once postulated.
If the vivisectors and their supporters had any credibility they would make a clean chin of what really goes on in their laboratories instead of whitewashing the truth. The same holds true for their stooges within the capitalist media.
More importantly, the petit fait that Messrs. Shimomura, Chalfie, and Tsien are venerated instead of being jailed is testimony in and of itself as to just how far man has strayed from all morality, compassion, and taste.
"Doctors who speak out in favor of vivisection do not deserve any recognition in society, all the more so since their brutality is apparent not only during such experiments, but also in their practical medical lives," Hugo Knecht, a practicing physician in Linz, declared way back on October 5, 1909. "They are mostly men who stop at nothing in order to satisfy their ruthless and unfeeling lust for honors and gain."
Those sentiments were valid when they were first uttered and remain so today. The only thing that Dr. Knecht might add if he were still alive today is a resounding condemnation of the phony-baloney Swedish Academy.
While statistics are unavailable with regard to the Nobel Prize in chemistry, the web site Animal Research has confirmed that seventy-five of the ninety-eight awards made by the Academy in physiology and medicine have gone to vivisectors. Plus, four more of the award winners relied upon research conducted by other vivisectors.
Additionally, ten of those awards have gone to vivisectors who have tortured and killed cats. Seven of the awards were for research conducted on the central nervous system and brain; the remainder went for the study of vision, the circulatory system, and the principles of drug treatment.
The Academy's love affair with cat killers began in 1906 when it recognized Camillo Golgi and Santiago y Cajal for killing cats, dogs, rabbits, mice, birds, and reptiles during the course of their study of the structure of the nervous system. The slaughter of cats, dogs, and rabbits continued unabated in 1912 when Alexis Carrel was elevated by the Academy for his work on suturing and transplanting blood vessels and organs.
In 1932, Charles Sherrington and Edgar Adrian were honored for killing cats, dogs, and frogs while studying the functions of neurons. Four years later in 1936, Henry Dale and Otto Loewi were selected for killing more cats and frogs in the course of their discovery of neurotransmitters.
Once again in 1944 the Academy bestowed its hightest honor in physiology and medicine on cat and frog killers Joseph Erlanger and Herbert Glasser for their inquiries into the highly differentiated functions of single nerve fibers. In 1949, Walter Rudolph Hess and Egas Moniz were singled out for carving up the brains of cats in an effort to prove that lobotomies could cure psychosis.
In 1967, the Academy took a brief hiatus from honoring scientists who chop up feline brains and instead chose to honor Haldan K. Hartline, George Wald, and Ragnar Granit for robbing them, along with rats, guinea pigs, frogs, reptiles, and crustaceans, of their vision. By 1970, however, it was back to brain research for the Academy when it recognized Bernard Katz, Ulf von Euler, and Julius Axelrod for killing cats, dogs, cows, rabbits, mice, and rats while looking into the storage, release, and inactivation of neurotransmitters in nerve endings.
In 1981, Roger W. Sperry, David H. Hubel, and Torsten N. Wiesel took home top honors for killing cats and primates while exploring how the brain processes visual information. Finally, James W. Black, Gertrude B. Elion, and George H. Hitchings were elevated in 1988 for torturing cats, dogs, guinea pigs, and rats while setting out the principles of effective drug treatment.
To sum it all up in a nutshell, the Swedish Academy looks upon the animals of this world with contempt. Like Rene Descartes, they view them solely as inanimate objects to be exploited at will. Originating from such a morally bankrupt perspective, its pronouncements and the honors that it bestows are every bit as fraudulent as the criminals that it protects and promotes.
Photos: J. Henriksson of the Swedish Academy (Shimomura and Chalfie), The Huntsville Times (Prasher), UC-San Diego (Tsien), Gyeongsang National University (cats), Anthony Chan of Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University (rhesus macaques), STR-AFP-Getty (pigs), Sam Yeh of AFP-Getty (zebra fish), University of Pennsylvania (mice), Jean Livet of Harvard ("Brainbow"), and Eduardo Kac (Kac and Alba).