In a recent post titled "O Brave New World, please come to pass," the popular science blogger Pharyngula comments on the proposal in the UK to use cow eggs in research cloning. He not only defends the practice, but calls for the resulting mostly-human clonal embryo to be implanted and brought to term - in a cow's uterus. His reason to do so is simply to shock religious conservatives and "to have a real discussion about the biotechnology." While I'd welcome such a "real" discussion, his call for human reproductive cloning, creating human-cattle hybrids, and gestating them in cows is an unacceptable proposal and political suicide.
Although the creation of clonal human embryos using cow eggs is initially a bit repugnant, there is merit to the idea. If scientists are going to go ahead with research cloning, developing the techniques this way would likely reduce the impacts on the women who would otherwise be providing human eggs. These eggs are scarce, and their extraction poses significant health risks for the women.
But implanting them? Reproductive cloning is opposed by an overwhelming majority in America and the world, and has been condemned by the United Nations, UNESCO, the World Health Organization, the Council of Europe, the European Union, the G-8, every member of Congress, and most people with common sense. Pharyngula (PZ Myers, a biologist at the University of Minnesota) takes reproductive cloning even a step further, calling for use of cow eggs and a cow surrogate - and does so seemingly without sarcasm. Such experimentation on children is inherently and extremely unethical.
All this is proposed to rile up cultural conservatives, whom the blogger ridicules. Speaking as a generally secular political progressive, this attitude frightens and frustrates me. I've long felt that embracing the worst aspects of human biotechnology, such as these "Brave New World" scenarios, is a short road for progressives to lose site of their core values and alienate the majority of the public. Rubbing this in the faces of those who are opposed - a group much larger than religious conservatives - for the purpose of a "fun and exciting" discussion is adolescent.
Posted in Hybrids & Chimeras, Jesse Reynolds's Blog Posts, Reproductive Cloning, Research Cloning
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Comment by adana oto kiralama, Dec 27th, 2007 3:23am