The South Korea Scandal and the Future of the Stem Cell Debate
The lurid details of the Korean cloning scandal are now widely familiar. Over the past two years, South Korean scientist Hwang Woo Suk and his research team reported several major breakthroughs in the science of human cloning. In 2004, they claimed to have produced the first cloned human embryos. In 2005, they claimed to have vastly improved the efficiency of their technique, producing embryonic clones of individuals with serious diseases and then disaggregating the embryos for their stem cells. Both papers were published in the journal Science and welcomed enthusiastically by embryo research advocates around the world. Many American bioethicists applauded Hwang's "life-saving research" and praised his team's high ethical standards and humane treatment of egg donors. Many American scientists hailed Hwang's achievement as a herald of great medical progress, and lamented that American science was falling behind due to inadequate federal support. The Korean scientists were so confident in their work--"holy, pure, and genuine," as Dr. Hwang described it--that they began setting up a global consortium to clone human embryos on behalf of less capable scientists elsewhere.
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