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A Bad Investment: Human cloning for therapeutic purposes isn't likely to pan out

Wesley J. Smith

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Ian Wilmut, co-creator of Dolly the cloned sheep, wants your tax dollars to pay Big Biotech and their business partners in elite university life-science departments to conduct research into human cloning. Wilmut dropped this little bon mot to the London Telegraph while on his way to the United Nations to lobby against a pending international protocol that would outlaw all human-somatic-cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) cloning. He took the opportunity of being interviewed to grouse that America's refusal to publicly fund research into human cloning is stifling science and slowing the development of new medical cures.

Wilmut's complaint is part of an intense public-relations campaign intended to pressure federal and state governments to publicly fund human cloning. Yet only three years ago, during the great stem-cell debate of 2001, biotech advocates assured a wary nation that they only wanted taxpayers to pay for embryonic-stem-cell research (ESCR) that would be strictly limited to using embryos leftover from in-vitro-fertilization treatments. After a protracted political struggle, President Bush partially accommodated the request by allowing federal funding on embryonic stem-cell lines already in existence as of August 9, 2001.

But now, we are being told that ESCR alone won't lead to treatments for degenerative diseases and disabilities such as Parkinson's, spinal-cord injury, Lou Gehrig's disease, juvenile diabetes, and the like. It seems that our bodies might reject tissues developed from natural embryos. Indeed, according to Robert Lanza, medical director of Advanced Cell Technology, writing in the May 24 Scientific American, the rejection issue is so huge that biotechnologists would require "millions of discarded embryos from IVF clinics" to create stem-cell lines with sufficient genetic variations to mitigate the problem through tissue matching.

Read the entire article on the National Review Online website.

Posted: 6/20/04



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