Cloning


It was just about a year ago that humans were successfully cloned for the first time.  Those researchers used fetal cells.  A couple of weeks ago, it was announced that Robert Lanza from Advanced Cell Technology successfully cloned two humans using adult cells (from a 35 year old man and a 75 year old man).

ObfuscationNow that cloning is back in the media again, the media is once again demonstrating their ignorance of the science, or blatant attempt to pull the wool over the public’s eyes about what is really being done in the lab.  They either:

  1. Leave out the fact that what is produced is a human embryo (going straight from enucleated egg with the nucleus of an adult cell, directly to stem cells)
  2. Or they admit that an embryo is created, but claim it’s not a human being
  3. Or they deny that the embryo is a human clone (redefining human clone to refer to a cloned human who is allowed to be born. 

They are leaving out important details, and redefining scientific words to fit their purposes.  It’s all rhetoric and propaganda, and obfuscates the science and biology behind it. 

For the last time: somatic cell nuclear transfer does not produce embryonic stem cells.  It creates a human clone, and that human produces stem cells.  To extract the stem cells, the human clone must be killed! 

Wesley J. Smith has some nice posts demonstrating how the mainstream media continues to get it wrong: 

Shoukhrat Mitalipov, of Oregon Health & Science University

Shoukhrat Mitalipov, of Oregon Health & Science University

Researchers at The Oregon Health & Science University have just announced in Cell that they successfully cloned 21 humans, and then killed them to extract their stem cells at the blastocyst stage (although they didn’t describe it as “killing”).  This is the first time stem cells have ever been derived from a human clone.  

Welcome to the brave new world of cloning.

 

HT: Wesley J. Smith

In May of this year Gallup polled Americans to determine what behaviors they found morally acceptable and unacceptable.  Sixteen behaviors were evaluated, and here are the results:

(more…)

oocyteDoes anyone remember the promises from the legislators, scientists, and bioethicists that they would not pay women for their eggs for use in cloning research?  As with most bioethical promises, they are handed out like candy in order to obtain the desired political result, only to be taken back once that result has been realized.  Apparently, New York has decided it will pay as much as $10,000 for women to donate their eggs for cloning research.  What’s the problem with that, you say?  The problem is that the hyper-ovulation drugs used for the procedure can have adverse effects including sterilization, and even death.

HR 2560, a.k.a. The “Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2007”, was defeated 213-204. This bill pretended to ban human cloning by defining human cloning as the implantation of a cloned embryo in a uterus (though they did not say “cloned embryo”), rather than the creation of the embryo itself.

The bill states that “it shall be unlawful…to perform or attempt to perform human cloning.” So far so good. It goes on to make it unlawful “to ship, mail, transport, or receive the product of human somatic cell nuclear transfer technology knowing that such product is for the purpose of human cloning.” My question is, What’s the difference? What is the unnamed “product” to which they refer? Considering the fact that somatic cell nuclear transfer technology is the technology used in cloning (it’s what was used to create Dolly the sheep), the product is none other than a cloned human being. But wait…I thought the bill banned human cloning. Silly me! I’m using “human cloning” in a scientific way. These politicians aren’t doing that. They are making up their own political definitions of these terms so they can trick the public. Here is how the bill defines “human cloning” and “somatic cell nuclear transfer”:

Human cloning: “The implantation of the product of human somatic cell nuclear transfer technology into a uterus or the functional equivalent of a uterus.”
Human somatic cell nuclear transfer technology: “Transferring the nuclear material of a human somatic cell into an egg cell from which the nuclear material has been removed or rendered inert.”

The fact of the matter is that somatic cell nuclear transfer is the process by which a human clone is created. Once the nuclear material of a human somatic cell has been transferred into an enucleated egg and fused together, the act of cloning is complete. Where one puts the newly cloned human being after that (whether in a uterus, Petri dish, or trash can) has nothing to do with cloning. Shame on the politicians who are writing these deceptive bills (including an earlier Senate bill, and several different state bills), but thank goodness for the sanity of those in Congress who voted to defeat this bill.

Illinois is on the bandwagon of legalizing cloning while pretending to ban it. Senate Bill 004, a.k.a. the Stem Cell Research and Human Cloning Prohibition Act, legalizes cloning while pretending to ban it via the same verbal sleight of hand other states have used. The devil is in the details. Here is the relevant text:

Section 40. Cloning prohibited.

1 (a) No person may clone or attempt to clone a human being.
2 For purposes of this Section, “clone or attempt to clone a
3 human being” means to transfer to a uterus or attempt to
4 transfer to a uterus anything other than the product of
5 fertilization of an egg of a human female by a sperm of a human
6 male for the purpose of initiating a pregnancy that could
7 result in the creation of a human fetus or the birth of a human
8 being.

What is being outlawed?: cloning, or attempting to clone a human being. Notice that the drafters of the bill are using “clone” as a verb, not a noun. This means the drafters are outlawing a particular act. What is that act? They define it as the transfer of a non-fertilized “product” into a woman’s uterus. How can this be considered cloning? Even the most scientifically illiterate man on the street understands that cloning involves copying something. How does moving a “product” from one location (lab) to another location (uterus) fit the bill? Clearly something more must be involved. That “something” is what the drafters so desperately want to avoid.

Attempting to clone a human being has nothing to do with where you put some unnamed “product.” It has everything to do with copying some “product.” In this case we are talking about copying a human being. And if you copy a human being, what do you end up with? That’s right…another human being. So how is it again that this law prohibits cloning human beings?

Like other bills legalizing cloning while pretending to ban it, the intent of the researcher is integral to the definition of cloning. Rather than referring to what the scientist makes in the lab, cloning is said to be defined by what the scientist intends to do with that which he has created. Unfortunately, what a scientist intends to do with the embryos he has cloned is irrelevant. A clone is a clone is a clone, regardless of what the scientist does with them. If he freezes them, they are clones; if he dismembers them for their stem cells to be used in treating other human beings, they are still clones.

In an earlier section they explicitly affirm their intent to clone
embryos:

6 Section 5. Policy permitting research. The policy of the
7 State of Illinois shall be as follows:
8 (1) Research involving the derivation and use of human
9 embryonic stem cells, human embryonic germ cells, and human
10 adult stem cells from any source, including somatic cell
11 nuclear transplantation, shall be permitted and the ethical and
12 medical implications of this research shall be given full
13 consideration.

What? You didn’t see the word cloning? No, you didn’t. But “somatic cell nuclear transplantation” is the scientific term used to describe the process of what is more commonly called “cloning.” By employing a scientific term unfamiliar to most people, and then later defining “cloning” in a very narrow, unscientific manner, the drafters of the bill are able to claim they are banning cloning.

Even the grammar betrays their deception. The bill says “research involving the derivation and use of human embryonic stem cells…from any source, including somatic cell nuclear transplantation.” “Somatic cell nuclear transplantation” is a process, not a thing. As such, it is not a source for obtaining stem cells; it is a means of obtaining stem cells. What is a source of stem cells? Cloned embryos, created through the process of somatic cell nuclear transplantation. That’s what the drafters were thinking, but they couldn’t say it without blowing their cover.

These lawmakers are distorting science and language for political purposes, and should be ashamed of themselves.

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