The irrational fears people express today about cloning parallel those surrounding robotics half a century ago. So I would like to propose Three Laws of Cloning that also clarify three misunderstandings: 1. A human clone is a human being no less unique in his or her personhood than an identical twin. 2. A human clone has all the rights and privileges that accompany this legal and moral status. 3. A human clone is to be accorded the dignity and respect due any member of our species.
[via Arts & Letters Daily]
The Rael Deal: Susan Palmer of the Dawson College Religion Department gives a detailed background of the Raelians. They are in the spotlight this week with their claims of a successful birth of a cloned child and, judging from Palmer's article, are probably basking in it. [via A Voyage to Arcturus]
- Religious Movements Homepage:Raelians
- Brigitte Boisselier's testimony to Congress during the debates on cloning last year.
- Who am I? - Severino Antinori: a tongue-in-cheek profile of the doctor who seems to have been beaten out in the race for the first clone
[via Metafilter in a round about way]
After talking to a range of working scientists and researchers, it is relatively easy to come up with a short list of the hot button topics in genetics and their likely progress over, say, the next 10 years. The consensus about what can and cannot (and may never be) done is not complete, but it is impressive. There is more than enough on the agenda to keep everyone busy without worrying about designer babies - or Frankenstein's monsters either.
The list goes like this: pre-implantation genetic diagnosis; germ-line therapy and gene therapy, which together comprise what most people think of as 'genetic engineering'; cloning; stem-cell research; ageing; and the impenetrably named pharmacogenetics, which could turn out to be the most useful of all.
[via also not found in nature]
Physics bans cloning: long known results from quantum mechanics ruling out the copying of a quantum particle have been extended to classical systems composed of many of these particles, because doing so disturbs the original system. But what that does that mean for biological cloning? Not a whole lot. Even if a genetically identical clone is made, once that clone starts growing, breathing, and living, it is subjected to different environmental pressures than the parent causing the clone to diverge from the original almost immediately. [via The Daily Grail]
Debate on Human Cloning Turns to Patents: The International Center for Technology Assessment's Patent Watch Project reports that a patent recently awarded to the University of Missouri and licensed to BioTransplant explicitly covers a method of human cloning. The University says that the patent has only been licensed for use in animal-to-human organ transplants and wouldn't be used for human cloning.
The post-human future: an excerpt from Gregory Stock's book, Redefining Humans, on the manipulation of the human genome. As genetic knowledge and technology improves, this path is inevitable. As soon as we know how to do it, someone will.
At first glance the very notion that we might become more than "human" seems preposterous. After all, we are still biologically identical in almost every respect to our cave-dwelling ancestors. But this lack of change is deceptive. Never before have we had the power to manipulate human genetics to alter our biology in meaningful, predictable ways.
- A longer excerpt of the same chapter from Stock's site.
- Human Germline Engineering: Implications for Science and Society
Gene defects emerge in all animal clones: a discussion of a new paper by Ian Wilmut which shows that health and genetic problems are showing up in every cloned animal so far.
A review of all the world's cloned animals suggests that every one of them is genetically and physically defective. Ian Wilmut, co-creator of Dolly the sheep, the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell, published his findings this weekend.
The study coincides with claims by researchers trying to create the first cloned human. In Italy, Dr Severino Antinori has claimed that three women are pregnant with cloned babies; in America, Dr Panayiotis Zavos has said he will achieve such a pregnancy within two years.
Crossing Lines: Charles Krauthammer sets up four arguments against therapeutic cloning.
The heart of the problem is this: Nature, through endless evolution, has produced cells with totipotent power. We are about to harness that power for crude human purposes. That should give us pause. Just around the corner lies the logical by-product of such power: human-animal hybrids, partly developed human bodies for use as parts, and other horrors imagined--Huxley's Deltas and Epsilons--and as yet un imagined. This is the Brave New World Factor. Its grounds for objecting to this research are not about the beginnings of life, but about the ends; not the origin of these cells, but their destiny; not where we took these magnificent cells from, but where they are taking us.
See also: A Weak Argument Against Cloning
Human cloning project claims progress: At a conference held in the UAE earlier this week, Severino Antinori claimed that a woman in his reproductive cloning program is eight weeks pregnant with what could be the first human clone.
See also: Cloning pregnancy claim prompts outrage
Lords back cloning research: in a decision from the House of Lords today, The U.K. is allowing research into therapeutic cloning to continue under licenses issued by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority under a 1990 law.
The First Cloned Human Embryo: in an Australasian Science article, Peter Coghlan reflects on the recent progress towards human cloning and concludes that children born from cloning will be held to higher expectations because they "exact copies" of one of the parents.
George and Charlie and Dolly and Gene have given rise to a barnyard squabble between the three companies, culminating in a legal clash over ownership of the animal cloning patent and the potentially lucrative business it could bring.
- Cloning Hits the Big Time
- The Genetics Debate: a series from Minnesota Public Radio
- Patent 5,945,577: Cloning using donor nuclei from proliferating somatic cells
The National Academy of Sciences has issued a report (html, pdf, hardcopy) recommending that therapeutic cloning be allowed to continue but calling for a five year ban on human reproductive cloning because work with animals has not progressed far enough.
In a debate Friday with Paul Billings of GeneSage at the Associate of Reproductive Health Professionals Reproductive Health conference, Panos Zavos of the Andrology Institute of America said he plans to find a country where he can legally perform reproductive cloning.
The Cloning Game: On the uproar caused by last Sunday's announcement by ACT.
England passes emergency legislation barring reproductive cloning after a court threw out the existing law. Therapeutic cloning is still allowed.
Reactions to Sunday's announcement of the first human embryo cloning: Bush, the Vatican, and the European Commission (to name a few) condemn the action. Others feel that the medical benefits of therapeutic cloning outweigh the negligible risks of someone actually trying to bring a cloned child to birth. Then there are the "non-extremists", like Paul Vallely, who is "excited, but deeply worried". Libby Purves points out that despite best intentions, a cloned human child is now inevitable and that in fact there are groups and scientists whose aim is just that. The Wall Street Journal's editorial agrees it's inevitable and that the most important result of the announcement is that it will get us thinking about the issue now, while we're still at the base of Mount Clone, which scientists will climb because it's there. Two scientists involved in the Dolly cloning say that ACT's research isn't close to being ground-breaking and that it's more important politically and ethically than scientifically. Gina Kolata and Andrew Pollack agree, and discuss how the announcement was managed for maximum publicity. By provoking lawmakers, the New York Times editorial states, ACT may have done more to harm the field than help it. Clive Cookson raises the same point in the Financial Times. The Washington Post editorial urges Congress to refrain from banning the techniques before adequate scientific and ethical debates, while the Economist describes how the science may be moving too fast for laws. Reason has a collection of responses, collected before ACT's announcement, from scientists to a petition to criminalize cloning.
Advanced Cell Technology has cloned the first human embryo. Their stated intent is to be able to grow organs and tissue, not to create full humans. Part of their work is described in this paper in the online journal e-biomed: the journal of regenerative medicine. They also have a more accessible article in Scientific American.