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Biotech Science

U.N. Delays Debate on Cloning 746

hedpe2003 writes "'The General Assembly on Tuesday ducked for a year a polarizing debate over human cloning that has set the Bush administration against some allies like Britain and much of the world's scientific community. All 191 United Nations members agree on a treaty to prohibit cloning human beings, but they are divided over whether to extend such a ban to stem cell and other research known as therapeutic cloning. Opponents say total prohibition would block research on cancer, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, diabetes, spinal cord injuries and other conditions. The White House says that enough stem cells from human embryos exist for research and that cloning an embryo for any reason is unethical. United States was happy to go along with the one-year consensus but would not alter its stance. 'We will continue to work for a total ban,' he said.' I was just wondering what everyone thought about this. To tell the truth, I didn't know that the US was pushing so hard to ban stem cell research all together."
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U.N. Delays Debate on Cloning

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  • wait wait wait... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Clever Pun ( 729719 ) on Friday December 12, 2003 @05:36AM (#7698957) Journal
    The White House says that enough stem cells from human embryos exist for research...

    Which stem cells? The ones that are gathered at the abortion clinics? The abortion clinics that preform the abortions that YOU'RE TOTALLY OPPOSED TO AND WANT TO SEE MADE ILLEGAL? Those abortion clinics?

    Stupid fucking government.

    In the defense of our idiot-in-chief president, he is Texan, so some leeway must be given.
    • He may be an idiot but he supposedly has a pretty good team of advisers. But in many cases he overrules them based on his chrishtian beliefs. "Even the ones that contradict each other" --- Simpsons. So we can all see what probably happened here.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      This is the most insightful remark I have heard anyone make in this discussion.

      Someone should tell the Texan in the Oval Office that he cannot have it both ways. There are 3 possible scenarios for him:
      1) allow abortion -> harvest fresh stem cells
      2) ban abortion -> clone old stem cells
      3) claim that cancer is the wrath of god and a cure should not be found.

      If think even George W is stupid enough to claim #3 in public, so that logic kinda limits his options. However, he has already proved that logic is
    • Re:wait wait wait... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Thomas Miconi ( 85282 ) on Friday December 12, 2003 @06:12AM (#7699088)
      Which stem cells? The ones that are gathered at the abortion clinics? The abortion clinics that preform the abortions that YOU'RE TOTALLY OPPOSED TO AND WANT TO SEE MADE ILLEGAL? Stupid fucking government.

      Congratulations. You just managed to be even more stupid than them. No small feat, I reckon.

      Embryos are not gathered at abortion clinics (Hell not !). They come from in-vitro fertilization, mostly. When you fertilize eggs in a tube, you end up with more embryos than needed. Excess eggs are often stored in liquid nitrogen. Sometimes these eggs are simply abandoned (because the parents part, or one of them dies, or they simply don't want any more children). These eggs are stem cells (indeed a "real" stem cell is equivalent to an egg). Bush & Co. say that they should be the only source for stem cells.

      Their opposition to human cloning, including for stem cell research, has the same origin as their opposition to abortion: they consider eggs and embryos as living, human beings.

      Thomas Miconi
      • Re:wait wait wait... (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Terov ( 79502 )
        Correct! Although stem cells can be derived from aborted fetuses and, by all means, ought to be if it can help even a single human being.

        "In the most controversial method, scientists can also pull stem cells from aborted fetuses, first asking for signed consent from a patient who'd previously (and independently) decided to terminate her pregnancy. This is the procedure most often highlighted by pro-life activists who oppose supporting stem cell research."
        -Old Time article [time.com]

        Most conservatives though, i
      • Re:wait wait wait... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by zhenlin ( 722930 ) on Friday December 12, 2003 @07:44AM (#7699369)
        Genetically, they [eggs, and embryos] are human beings. The big picture: they are the equivalent of brain-dead humans [until they are proven to be sentient]. They should have about the same rights as those.

        Ethical or not - it will be greatly beneficial to be able to do research using cloning and stem cells. With cloning, you can do nature-nurture experiments more easily. With stem cells, you can eventually figure out how to grow organs instead of transplanting them.

        The first country that legalises cloning and stem cell harvesting for research will have many medical researchers flocking to it. And get lots of insults along the line of 'unethical' and 'immoral'... I wonder, if that will ever happen?
        • Re:wait wait wait... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by ShadeARG ( 306487 ) on Friday December 12, 2003 @08:49AM (#7699605)
          Genetically, they [eggs, and embryos] are human beings. The big picture: they are the equivalent of brain-dead humans [until they are proven to be sentient]. They should have about the same rights as those.

          So does that mean the "mother" can choose to "pull the plug" at any time, and then "donate" the eggs to this kind of research? Remember, the egg is braindead, it can't make decisions for itself...
        • Re:wait wait wait... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by redragon ( 161901 ) <codonnell AT mac DOT com> on Friday December 12, 2003 @09:14AM (#7699724) Homepage
          > ...they are the equivalent of brain-dead humans
          > [until they are proven to be sentient].

          So, about those brain-dead humans...not to mention eggs, embryos, fetuses, (oh, my) etc.

          I'm so curious why there has been so little discussion about when life/death happens. There's all sorts of funny stuff going on out there.

          "Life happens at conception." - Ok...when the sperm goes in the egg. But a lot of eggs that this happens to gets flushed during a women's menstrual cycle (I can say menstruation on /. right?).

          "Death happens when your EEG shows no brain activity." - But...this is rooted entirely in the notion that your brain is the only place where thought comes from. Think of it as the modern soul. Your brain makes your "self."

          There is all sorts of research out there about how our notions about life/death are all wrapped up in western philosophical notions, not to mention judeo-christian belief systems. Read up about cryonics and you get a very different notion of life/death than you do from other places.

          So the question becomes, where is it most productive for life/death to happen? Because either way we're making it up. So lets make it up in a way that does the least amount of harm.

        • by stretch0611 ( 603238 ) on Friday December 12, 2003 @11:42AM (#7701113) Journal
          The first country that legalises cloning and stem cell harvesting for research will have many medical researchers flocking to it. And get lots of insults along the line of 'unethical' and 'immoral'...

          The insults will only last until they have the ability to replace organs(heart lungs) and mass quantities of tissues(spinal cord nerves, skin). Then every other country will be asking "Can you show our doctors how to do that?

        • Re:wait wait wait... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by pla ( 258480 )
          Genetically, they [eggs, and embryos] are human beings. The big picture: they are the equivalent of brain-dead humans [until they are proven to be sentient]. They should have about the same rights as those.

          And people with Down's syndrome, or Turner's, or Klinefelter's, or any other severe chromosomal abnormality, do NOT genetically match a human (and interestingly enough, that includes a good number of people you'd consider "normal", unlike the above-mentioned disease conditions... XXY, as an example, wh
    • by Terov ( 79502 )
      Well the real idiocy of the matter is that Roe v. Wade is not going to be overturned. Consequently, abortions continue, providing a viable source of stem cells that remains untapped so long as imbeciles in power are tied inextricably to the Christian Right.

      While I'm pro-abortion, conservatives need to realize that two "wrongs" don't make a right. If abortion is so evil, we should at least gain as much good from it as we possibly can. To do otherwise is downright criminal to the medical community and every
      • by Lord Kano ( 13027 ) on Friday December 12, 2003 @07:17AM (#7699286) Homepage Journal
        While I'm pro-abortion, conservatives need to realize that two "wrongs" don't make a right. If abortion is so evil, we should at least gain as much good from it as we possibly can. To do otherwise is downright criminal to the medical community and everyone who could benefit from this research.

        Want to know a secret?

        The reason we oppose the use of aborted fetuses for stem cell research is two fold. Not only do we believe that it would be like taking fruit from a poisoned tree, it would undermine our efforts against abortion on demand. Not only would we be accused of wanting to enslave woman to childbearing, by opposing abortion we would also be accused of wanting someone's little old grandmother to die from parkinsons because she couldn't get the stem cells she needed for her treatment.

  • My 2 cents. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cgranade ( 702534 )
    My own personal opposition to cloning comes not from moral reasons, but because we have a population problem, and the last thing we need to do is make it worse.
    • Re:My 2 cents. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MooCows ( 718367 ) on Friday December 12, 2003 @05:41AM (#7698975)
      Why would the population problem matter?
      What reason would there be for mass-cloning?

      As I see it, cloning/stem cell/whatever research is a way to learn more about how we work.
      And the more we know about how we work, the better we can work on small things like medicine. (genetic research seems very promising for a cure for cancer)
      • You're assuming mass-cloning is the problem he's concerned with. Assuming you are right, and we make significant progress in the field of medecine. The mortality rate goes down, and suddenly we have even more of a population problem than we started with.
        • > The mortality rate goes down, and suddenly we have even more of a population problem than we started with.

          Or alternatively while the mortality rate goes down, the number of people sick enough that society has to support them also goes down...

          - Muggins the Mad
      • exactly! no-one would be helped by mass-cloning. there's this thing called genetic diversity, and it's the key to survival of a population in a changing, challenging environment.

        for example, if a population is very homogeneous (many clones), one virus that normaly only effective in a smaller part of a population, will now be able to effectively wipe out complete cloned populations.

        in analogy to the windows ubiquity/virus problem. if you are a big homogeneous target, you are becoming vulnerable to attacks.
    • Re:My 2 cents. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pesc ( 147035 ) on Friday December 12, 2003 @06:02AM (#7699052)
      My own personal opposition to cloning comes not from moral reasons, but because we have a population problem

      That's a strange argument. Cloning is not about creating a large number of individuals. You have been watching too much Star Wars. Creating individuals is far more cheaper if done the old-fashioned way, and I don't think cloning will ever be able to compete with that.

      It might be able to help parents get a child if they are otherwise infertile, but I don't think that is a threat against population control.

      Unless your argument is that we can control the population by not curing people with Alzheimers, parkinsson, etc. But I don't think you ment that.
    • Re:My 2 cents. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by penguin7of9 ( 697383 ) on Friday December 12, 2003 @06:25AM (#7699132)
      The US hangup is about non-reproductive cloning; none of those clones will ever contribute to population growth. The US could probably easily get a ban on reproductive cloning through the UN. But even reproductive cloning is so complex compared to the "natural" way that it just won't make any difference for population growth.

      If reproductive cloning ever became widely available it would, if anything, probably lead to a reduction in growth rates: technologies that give people more reproductive freedom and choice tend to do that.
  • by Number Ten Ox ( 535401 ) on Friday December 12, 2003 @05:38AM (#7698968)
    A UN vote would not make any difference. It would only affect countries who sign up to the resolution. I do not think the UK would, the government is very keen on getting the biotech industry up and running.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 12, 2003 @05:39AM (#7698970)
    There are a TON of anti-cloning supporters out there, but seriously, what is the big deal? If there is a path of technology that might allow us to grow spare body parts, rid the world of cancer, and anything else, then I'm all for it. I think a large percentage of people object to cloning because of the moral (read religious) ideas of a soul and other such nonsense. I wish people would just grow up already.
    • by xyvimur ( 268026 ) <koo3ahzi&hulboj,org> on Friday December 12, 2003 @05:42AM (#7698981) Homepage
      And besides it is unstoppable. Even if prohibited the kind of ``black-market'' shall develop, where some groups will make huge amount of money... Because there are people willing to pay that money for extending there life, replacing organs etc... And that is not strange. Prohibitting cloning may look ``nice'' but for sure it will not stop the cloning.
      That were my 3 cents...
    • On morals (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mccalli ( 323026 ) on Friday December 12, 2003 @06:59AM (#7699231) Homepage
      I think a large percentage of people object to cloning because of the moral (read religious) ideas of a soul and other such nonsense.

      Please do not equate moral viewpoints with religious viewpoints. It's quite possible to have morals without subscribing to any religion, and as has been seen over centuries it's equally possibly to subscribe to a religion without having any morals.


  • my opinion (Score:5, Interesting)

    by koekepeer ( 197127 ) on Friday December 12, 2003 @05:47AM (#7699000)
    so don't flame me

    i think one shouldn't prohibit cloning of humans. progress cannot be stopped, even though it is sometimes questionable whether progress in knowledge helps humans a step forward.

    i personally think the the ethics are too human-centric in this debate. as if we are a more special breed of mammals or something. factors enter this debate that should be separate from science IMHO, and definetely from governmental decisions (religious arguments for example - don't mess with God's creation...).

    the benefits can be many, and cloned humans will be a rare phenomenon, even if it happens. just like genetic engineering in general, cloning human cells or tissues can be a good thing if applied under very strong restricions. think of the (now very sci-fi) idea of growing new organs, or tissues from a patient. no more rejection of transplanted organs by the patient's immune system because they (the organs) are made up by his/her own cells.

    regulations should be strict though, to prevent some mad scientist from running ahead of the facts and doing things that have unpredictable effects. although i doubt that regulations will stop a mad man anyway, but that's a different discussion alltogether, so i will not touch that subject :\
  • by datamaxx ( 656158 ) on Friday December 12, 2003 @05:54AM (#7699025)
    bushy needs the religious right to keep the power and to hell with consequences. Just to keep the research alive for a cure for juvenile diabetes, the society had to fund their own research for 17 new stem cell lines of which none could be used in the US, the researcher has two kids with diabetes of his own and for the "SIN" of trying to keep his kids alives, has been hounded, threatened and abused. The research is moving overseas rapidly which is to be expected and in the end won't slow it down much. What doesn't get mentioned much, is that most of the approved stem cells are locked up in patents and too flawed for meanful research.
  • I think there would be allot to be learned from experimenting with cloning. We could even put it to good use with cloning organs and skin cells.

    But I think this kind of thing should have the most stringent monitoring available, this is also the kind of thing which could do allot of damage to this world.

    Imagine the repercussions if a world leader were cloned. Or worse yet what if we could speed up the process and steal other people's identities.
    • "Imagine the repercussions if a world leader were cloned."

      I'm trying to imagine that... would it be somewhat like the world leader getting a child? Perhaps a child that looks a lot like the leader? Or maybe a world leader that has a lookalike?

      The reprecussions dont seem that horrific, really.

      "Or worse yet what if we could speed up the process and steal other people's identities."

      Even if, in fact, it would be possible to speed up biological aging, how are you going to explain that 'This is Joe. He may se
  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) * <bruce@perens.com> on Friday December 12, 2003 @06:02AM (#7699055) Homepage Journal
    When Stanley [perens.com] was born, we banked his umbilical cord blood. Cord blood contains a form of fetal stem cell. The cells are in storage in a cryogenic facility at the University of Arizona. They can be used if he (or a sibling, if he had one) needs a stem cell donor for medical reasons later in life. I do not believe there is any ethical issue regarding healing Stanley with his own cells, provided that anything grown from the cells does not include a conscious brain of its own. And we need research so that we can use those cells.

    Too much of the objection over stem cell use is concerned with the origin of some stem cell cultures in aborted fetuses.


    • Hey, that sounds like a fantastic idea! Are these facilities available to anyone? I'd love to do that for my future children.
  • Unethical? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by venicebeach ( 702856 ) on Friday December 12, 2003 @06:02AM (#7699056) Homepage Journal
    The White House says that enough stem cells from human embryos exist for research and that cloning an embryo for any reason is unethical.

    Ah yes, I forgot that the Bush administration is a world reknowned authority on ethics.
  • What a waste (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dark Bard ( 627623 ) on Friday December 12, 2003 @06:04AM (#7699063)
    We have a chance to end some of the most horrible debilitating deseases know and it largely comes down to semantics. When life starts. The attitude is better to flush the tissue down the toliet than find a cure to these deseases. It shouldn't come down to a religious issue of when life starts. People should be given the option of donating the unused tissue. I have major reservations about genetically modifying plants and animals but have no issue with stem cell research. Few of the same people show the same enthusiasm about banning nuclear weapons that can kill millions but become irrational when it cames to a line of research that can save millions. Cloning itself simply produces a twin. Deal with it. I oppose cloning of humans strictly because of the crude nature of the current techniques. Few it any would survive and any survivors would have severe genetic problems. There's enough genetic desease without creating more. Until there is a more reliable technique it's irresponsible to clone humans. Reproducing stem cell tissue is a completely different issue. A three or four day old cluster of cells lacks conciousness. There are no brainwaves. In fact no brain. Stem cells by definition lack defining characteristics. They are a blank slate waiting to be told what to become. It's why they are such a promising option for replacing damaged tissue.
    • Re:What a waste (Score:3, Interesting)

      Until there is a more reliable technique it's irresponsible to clone humans.

      In my opinion, cloning should still be illegal even if it does become reliable and "safe". Because anyone arrogant enough to think "what this world really needs is an exact genetic duplicate of me" is someone I really don't want to see duplicate him or herself.

      (This coming from someone who gave his firstborn the same name as himself (and his grandfather), so maybe I fit my own critique.)

      Peace be with you,

  • by mulhall ( 301406 ) on Friday December 12, 2003 @06:04AM (#7699064)
    /RANT For the last time cloning will not replicate people! No duplication of people is possible.

    No more than identical twins are the same person!

    Doh! /RANT
    • well, let's not get into the nature vs nurture debate shall we? how do you know this for sure?

      let's assume you are correct. still, their genetic makeup will be virtually indentical. much more so than the average human population. and since you now about these things obviously, you also know that this makes a population vulnerable to any selective pressure, say, a disease. bingo. all your (not looking very much alike but very much the same under the hood) clones will die because of a virus infection.

      so one
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 12, 2003 @06:07AM (#7699076)
    The US wants to ban stem cell research internationally to ban competition for its pharma companies. They will do this research whether it is illegal or not, and the administration does not want to know about it, and it knows the competition won't break that rule.

    When was the last time the US abided by a UN resolution it did not support, even if it was achieved by a 'vote'?
  • by exratio ( 548823 ) on Friday December 12, 2003 @06:11AM (#7699086) Homepage

    The present US administration has been attempting to bury stem cell research and therapeutic cloning - both fundamental technologies in regenerative medicine - since it came to power. Therapeutic cloning is essential to many stem cell therapies and much related research. Immense damage has been done. Christopher Reeve and many stem cell scientists (including the founders of the field) believe that the actions of this administration alone have set the field back by 5 years.

    Some nasty math works out from here. There is currently an 80% effective stem cell therapy for heart disease that has been demonstrated in the US, Germany and Japan in human trials. It saves lives. 2000 people die EVERY DAY in the US from heart disease, yet the FDA is currently blocking any application of this working therapy. For more, see:

    http://www.longevitymeme.org/projects/protest_fda_ interference.cfm [longevitymeme.org]

    A stem cell/therapeutic cloning cure for Parkinson's has been demonstrated in mice, as have stem cell cures for nerve damage, diabetes, cancer (yes, a cure for cancer based on stem cells has been demonstrated in mice:

    http://www.betterhumans.com/News/news.aspx?article ID=2003-12-10-3 [betterhumans.com]

    ) and many other conditions. This isn't pie in the sky science! Real, working cures based on stem cell medicine are in the labs, only 5-10 years from being available for us. This is the science that the US administration is trying to drown. It's sickening that any group of human beings would try to enforce so much suffering...

    The US house of representatives passed a therapeutic cloning ban last year, but the US senate has been sitting on it. More on that here:

    http://www.longevitymeme.org/projects/oppose_the_t herapeutic_cloning_ban.cfm [longevitymeme.org]

    The Bush administration basically went over their heads to try and get what they wanted now from the UN, and damn near succeeded. You can read more about that here:

    http://www.longevitymeme.org/projects/oppose_globa l_therapeutic_cloning_ban.cfm [longevitymeme.org]

    This stopped being about human reproductive cloning a long time ago - there is a large, influential group of organizations, politicians and factions who stand opposed to any medical progress that will lead to longer, healthier lives. If cures for cancer, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, diabetes and other things get thrown away as well...well, too bad. You can see these views in their raw, ugly forms in the pronouncements of Leon Kass and the President's Council on Bioethics:

    http://www.bioethics.gov [bioethics.gov]

    In their view, living healthily for longer is bad. Working to cure suffering is bad. Medical progress is bad.

    Time to kick these people out of power - if we don't stand up for our right to develop and use better medicine, we're all going to be paying for it in years to come. See more at:

    http://www.longevitymeme.org/projects/ [longevitymeme.org]

    Speak out!


    • by Anenga ( 529854 ) on Friday December 12, 2003 @09:40AM (#7699920)
      The problem with all of that is that it flies in the face of Leon Kass. A lot of bioethics hate Leon Kass, though he is a university professor, philosopher, founding member of the Hastings Center, fellow at the American Enterprise Institute ... you name it. The main problem all those bioethicists despise about Kass is that he eloquently and forcefully believes that human life has intrinsic moral value simply because it is human. This flies in the face of the predominate ideology of contemporary bioethics that disdains human exceptionalism as arbitrary, irrational, human-centric, and indeed, an act of discrimination against animals known as "speciesism."

      BTW, everyone dismisses Kass a "Southern Baptist" neo-con right-wing whacko, yet he's Jewish.

      Neither Kass nor Bush has advocated outlawing embryonic-stem-cell research. (Both do wish to ban all human cloning, including for biomedical research. But cloning is not the same thing as embryonic-stem-cell research, although many cloning advocates strive mightily to blur the distinction.)

      Also, a lot of those issues you cite are banned in a lot of Europe, so it's not like it's unique to the "evil Bush administration".
  • Senator Tom Harkin (D - Iowa) is a proponent of human cloning (not just stem cell research, mind you, but human cloning). He was in a public discussion a while ago with Doctor Ian Wilmut (the guy in charge of the Dolly sheep-cloning experiment). Wilmut said "it would be quite inhumane" to clone people. Harkin blasted him:

    "Human cloning will take place and it will take place within my lifetime. I think it is right and proper. ... It holds untold benefits for humankind in the future."

    Article about i [umich.edu]
  • by Morgaine ( 4316 ) on Friday December 12, 2003 @06:16AM (#7699101)
    The US blocking of clone research is pretty consistent with US denial of nanotechnology research funding.

    A few weeks ago, the US effectively denied government funding of nanotechnology despite its public position of wishing to support it. The funding initiative (NNI) which was set up expressly to fund US research into nanotechnology was hijacked by US big business interests through a hilarious or appalling (depends on your point of view) technicality which resulted in nil dollars going to molecular nanotechnology. Yes, nil.

    This sleight of hand was performed by first defining nanotechnology as being the application of nanoscience, and then positioning the huge US presence in chemical, biotech and materials sciences as already operating in nanoscience. As a result, 100% of NNI funds were allocated to those megacorps, and zero dollars to the small and powerless sector that currently does the real research into molecular nanotechnology.

    It makes you wonder what the hell is happening in the US when such key research areas are blocked through government being concerned entirely with the protection of big business's current interests instead of being allowed to plan for the country's future.
    • Balderdash. Bush signs nanotechnology bill [internetnews.com] . And as the Washington Times says [washingtontimes.com]:

      Last week, President Bush signed the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act, an important measure which should serve as a needed stimulus for that nascent field full of potential.

      Nanotechnology deals with the study and manipulation of atoms and molecules -- at about the scale of 1/100,000th of the diameter of a human hair. As its name implies, it is not a field of pure research, but rather an interdisciplinary a

  • The 'yuck' factor. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dnnrly ( 120163 ) on Friday December 12, 2003 @06:18AM (#7699107)
    For all the people that don't take a religious stand on the issue I wouldn't be surprised if many of the people who object most of all don't know anything about stem cell research and cloning technology. I bet most of them have never had to take care of someone with Parkinsons or Alzeimers.
    Most of these people just take 1 look at the idea and speak up about how abhorant this idea is, basically because their first instinct is to screw up their faces and say 'yuck'. It's the 'yuck' factor that stops people from looking further into an issue and understand the real issues.
    This is just another example of people talking loudly without putting in any effort into understanding more.

    As for people with religious objections, while have have respect for their views, there are a significant number who are making the debate very polarised. They will not allow any answers other than yes or no, leaving out all the important details in between. I don't like that style of argument, it generally sets my alarm bells ringing!
  • by penguin7of9 ( 697383 ) on Friday December 12, 2003 @06:18AM (#7699110)
    The current US administration acts as if they believe that the UN is an organization somewhere between the Three Stooges and the Devil Incarnate, and they usually ignore the UN's resolutions and dismiss its statements.

    So, why are they taking this issue to the UN? Because they have been unable to get the Senate to agree to this ban. They hope that by using the UN, they can force through something that wouldn't be palatable to even US politicians.

    • by Anenga ( 529854 ) on Friday December 12, 2003 @08:36AM (#7699563)
      The current US administration acts as if they believe that the UN is an organization somewhere between the Three Stooges and the Devil Incarnate, and they usually ignore the UN's resolutions and dismiss its statements.
      The Bush administration ignores U.N. Resolutions? Which would those be? Perhaps your mistaking the U.S. for Iraq, which ignored 17 U.N. Security Council Resolutions [bbc.co.uk]. (No blood for oil!) The Bush administration doesn't mistreat the U.N., it's the other way around. Bush couldn't even get a vote on a Resolution, without France threatening to veto. What kind of "United Nations" is this? I mean, Libya -- a country with serious human rights violations -- is the chair of the Human Rights Committee. Iran is currently the chair of the Disarmament Committee, and Iraq was next in line until it stepped down.

      Since the last 55 years of the U.N.'s existance, there have been between 100 and 200 wars. The UN Security Council has given consent to only two of them, the Korean Police Action and Gulf War [One].

      Everyone blames the U.S. for the North Korea problem, and nearly every other human rights violation throughout the world. Why hasen't the U.N. done anything to curb these problems? I'm no right-wing conpsiracy theorist who believes the U.N. is trying to take over the U.S., but all the U.N. does is gather and whine about their own problems or opine on ways to control the Internet, suggestions to ban guns worldwide [bbc.co.uk] (That doesn't stop good-ol' Kofi and his bodyguards from carrying submachine guns [newsmax.com] to protect him around the dangerous streets of New York City!) and other idiotic things.

      Seriously, the model U.N. I did in highschool was more relevant than this. The Bush administration works with the U.N. all the time, as it is now trying to make Iran disarm. Nobody made the U.N. irrelevant, they made themselves irrelevant.

      Oh well, goodbye Karma.
  • by rollingcalf ( 605357 ) on Friday December 12, 2003 @06:42AM (#7699185)
    Cloning of complete human beings is experimentation on humans who didn't consent. Cloning has a very high failure rate, with the failed cases resulting in miscarriages or life-ending deformities. I can't see how anyone can claim that human cloning is ethical if it results in 200 or more severely deformed babies for every healthy birth.

    Maybe the failure rate could eventually drop to being close to the rate experienced by normal conceptions. But how would we get there? It is almost certain they would have to refine the cloning techniques by repeatedly failing on humans, because the differences between species indicates that you can't automatically make a jump from one species to an equal or better success rate with another. For example, years after the cloning of Dolly the sheep which took 297 attempts, it took 800 attempts to clone a horse despite the advantage of all the knowledge gained since Dolly.

    Cloning of isolated organs or stem cells is a different matter which I don't have a problem with.
    • Would you consider "normal" reproduction unethical if for whatever reason a certain couple had 200 to 1 odds of having a "healthy" (whatever that means) birth?

      Do you realize that many forms of medically assisted reproduction done today use essentially the same methods and have essentially the same risks as the kind of cloning you are talking about (the key difference being that they don't use solely your own genetic data)?

      BTW, folks don't tend to clone stem cells. They tend to want to clone from stem cell
  • Is there a plural for fetus? I dunno, anyways..

    is a journal entry I did a few days before this article because I was thinking about this very subject.

    I would LOVE stem cell research. To those that say the earth is overpopulated BOO HOO! Maybe the earth needs a few more superhumans and a few less troglodytes.

    We have a ready waiting supply for stem cells. Say it with me now folks, ABORTED FETUSES. The fetus didn't make it to term? Tough luck, that's natural selection. What do you think dogs and other wild animals do with their stillborn? They eat them of course! No self respecting carnivoire on the food chain is going to let that tasty bit of protien go to waste. Why should we as humans, the smartest creatures on the planet allow perfectly good stem cells that could SAVE LIVES become ground up and flushed down the drain?

    I see stem cell research leading to more than saving lives, I see a future with unimaginativable body modifications. As a side result I would imagine learning how to keep a fetus alive outisde the womb would be a major part of the research, which could lead to healthier babies being born.
  • by chthonicdaemon ( 670385 ) on Friday December 12, 2003 @07:04AM (#7699249) Homepage Journal
    I am a Christian. Now before you start flaming me for believing in stuff, just hear me out. Another guy came off all rightous in response to this story, attracting some well-deserved flames for his views. I would like to offer the rational Christian view. I believe God created the universe, with all the physics that hold it together. However, I do not deem to tell God how He should do stuff. If He works through evolution, that's cool. It makes His design cooler for being self-modifying. If he works through subatomic particles that we haven't even discovered yet, that makes it evel cooler that He started it all.

    Having said that, I think it's crazy how some fundamentalists still think they know that God is against science of any kind. They are OK with breeding dogs and horses to suit their needs -- even good with masturbating bulls to get their semen for artificial insemination. Some of them start to get squeemish when I mention these things, but we have been playing with genetics for the longest time, and have reaped the benifits. Now, I can't figure out how cloning or even forming living cells from nutrient-rich baths can be 'playing God' more than any other science.

    In fact I can -- people use life as a 'proof' that God exists. Unfortunately, any proof of God's existance would negate the need for faith, so it is doubtful whether such will ever exist. In these people's lives, they need to be able to say: 'Look at that foal -- it is proof that God exists'. If we can create life, therefore, we will be like God. This is flawed, for God is so much more than just something that creates life.
    • by X ( 1235 ) <x@xman.org> on Friday December 12, 2003 @07:27AM (#7699317) Homepage Journal
      If we can create life, therefore, we will be like God. This is flawed, for God is so much more than just something that creates life.

      Here here. Not to mention the fact that cloning is embarassingly similar to the process God gave us in the first place to perpetuate the species (although without all the fun parts ;-).

      I think though, that the battle lines on cloning are more closely drawn on the other side of the equation: getting the stem cells. It's tough to say where to draw the line, I think most people would be uneasy with the most extreme cloning scenario: paying folks for killing newborns to harvest their stem cells for cloning research. The trick is: where do you draw the line between the extremes? This is the kind of thing that draws upon all kinds of issues (even the hippocratic oath), including religious ones. Since we're dealing with life and death here folks get pretty upset even when they disagree only slightly on where to draw the line.
  • Forget Terrorism (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gjb6676 ( 647228 ) on Friday December 12, 2003 @07:27AM (#7699315) Homepage
    We have things all wrong and backwards. Cancer, Alzheimer's, and Diabetes will affect so many more Americans than terrorism ever could. Our funding needs to be diverted -- stem cells or not, our priorities here are all messed up.
  • by tehanu ( 682528 ) on Friday December 12, 2003 @08:20AM (#7699491)
    Personally my opposition to human cloning comes not so much from religious reasons as because I feel very very sorry for the clones. What would it be like knowing you are a clone? As stories I've read from people who were adopted show, people have very strong feelings about their origins eg. finding their birth parents. Where you come from is something that weighs heavily on people's minds. Think of how adopted children feel when they get told they aren't their parents' real kid. How would you feel being told you are a clone of your father? Or the clone of a dead brother or sister?

    Also it is inevitable that clones will be stigmitised in human society. When they go to school they will be considered freaks of nature, their very existence deemed monstrous. They'd probably be turned down for jobs - essentially they will be marked from birth as societal outcasts. The only people likely to accept them will be the scientists who created them and even then only as experimental subjects.

    But even that doesn't matter so much if they were loved, as guidance and acceptance and unconditional love from your parents can help people through the worse of things, but from what I read of the people who want clones as children, they don't seem to be entirely mentally stable. Many of the stories seem to involve a dead child who they literally want to bring back from the dead. Anyone grow up in a family and go to a school where you were continually expected to be as good as your older brother/sister? Same thing, except a million times worse. Your parents will be expecting you to *be* your dead brother or sister. Why else would they have spent tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars cloning them when they could just have had another child? Other reasons also seem bad - as an organ bank for someone. Human bodies put in storage to have organs taken out to be used for spares (I've actually read a manga about that where a doctor feeling sorry for the clone and hating the selfish brat who is the original secretly switches the two so the brat's organs are harvested and the clone 'becomes' the brat albeit with amnesia). And making the child the clone of one of the parents seems to be firstly somewhat egotistical and brings up all sorts of emotional complications and feelings. You'd also have to question the mentality and ego of someone who wants to spend a fortune on a clone of him/herself rather than using a sperm/egg bank or adoption. Essentially all of the people who want clones (with perhaps the exception of those who want a clone to harvest organs for a dying child though even that is morally dubious by any standards) seem to be some of the most selfish mentally unstable people who either seem to have an ego problem (too large) or are too obsessive about the past. There is no way any of them could guide a clone child through a hostile world where their very existence is seen as wrong.
  • by number6.3 ( 512525 ) on Friday December 12, 2003 @10:35AM (#7700301) Journal

    I once asked my ex-wife: "How many dead babies does it take to achieve clinical imortality?"

    Her reply? "As many as necessary".

    Let me point some of you "youngsters" to a SF story called "Bug Jack Barron", by Norman Spinrad. In it a 5 year old child had to die for every adult made imortal. The twist to the story is the Bad Guys make Our Hero imortal instead of killing him. It's quite chiling to see the co-opting process go to work when Our Hero finds out he now is one of the lucky few, and how easy it is to rationalize the procedure (now that it's been done).

    My point? Don't underestimate human greed and the will to survive. I also believe, along with another poster, that this move by the US is 1) a sop to the religious right at election time, and 2) a somokescreen for the US Pharma industry.

    Just call me cynical, I guess ("Well, sure, Mr. Senator, we continued with our research dispite the ban. We only experimented on non-Americans, outside of America. So, do you want us to extend your life so you can run for another term, or not? Remember, you made this an illegal procedure..."). More Life. More seductive than more money.

  • Rational debate (Score:3, Insightful)

    by boatboy ( 549643 ) on Friday December 12, 2003 @11:31AM (#7700955) Homepage
    I think it's illogical to fault conservatives for standing by their guns on this. I mean if you believe that an embryo is human, and if you believe killing that human is wrong, then it is only logical to oppose abortion in all forms- even if there are potential benefits from it. Think about it- there are many potential benefits from say, killing all elderly and genetically inferior people. Less world hunger, better gene pool, etc. We could even do research on their bodies and learn alot that could save lives. But most people, for one reason or another, realize that this would be still be wrong.

    So, any talk about weighing potential benefits is really a smokescreen for the only real issue: When does human life begin? I'm not saying that's an easy question, but I think it's really illogical and unfair for people to bash those of us who believe it begins at conception and stand by the logical conclusions of that belief.

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.