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8-Humans: GENETIC CROSSROADS #28



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TITLE:  GENETIC CROSSROADS #28
SOURCE: Center for Genetics and Society, USA
DATE:   Jan 12, 2003

------------------ archive: http://www.gene.ch/genet.html ------------------


CONTENTS
I. FEATURE: MEDIA REACTION TO RAELIAN CLONING CLAIM
II. TWO IMPORTANT OP-EDS
III. CGS AT THE WORLD SOCIAL FORUM
IV. UC REGENTS LECTURE BY CHARLES WEINER: "THE TROUBLED HELIX"
V. NEWSLETTER SUBSCRIPTION AND FORMATS

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I. FEATURE: MEDIA REACTION TO RAELIAN CLONING CLAIM

The Raelians' announcement on December 27 that the first human clone had 
been born sparked a media frenzy. The Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health 
Report published an inventory of 42 editorials and opinion pieces published 
between December 28, 2002 and Jan 6, 2003. The compilation can be found at:
http://www.kaisernetwork.org/daily_reports/rep_index.cfm?DR_ID=15371

A review by CGS staff Stacy Robison shows that, of the 42 editorials and op-
eds, a strong majority (31) support an immediate ban on reproductive 
cloning. Of these 31,
- Eighteen oppose reproductive cloning but support cloning for research 
purposes
- Eight believe that reproductive cloning should be swiftly banned and 
research cloning should be addressed separately
- Three support a total ban on cloning, both research and reproductive
- Two propose a ban on reproductive cloning and a moratorium on research 
cloning

In addition:
- Four pieces mention the need for an international ban on reproductive 
cloning
- Two note liberal and progressive caution concerning the eugenic potential 
of cloning technology.

Of the eleven that do not support an immediate ban on reproductive cloning,
- Seven suggest that reproductive cloning could one day prove beneficial 
and should be allowed to continue
- Four question the public's opposition to reproductive cloning, claiming 
that the birth of a clone is inevitable and may someday be normalized (a la 
in vitro fertilization)

To their credit, the authors of the opinion pieces summarized above 
addressed many of the ethical, legal, social, and regulatory questions 
raised by the Raelians' announcement. These stood in stark contrast to the 
news coverage itself, most of which featured stories about UFOs and cult 
practices accompanied by photo spreads of the prophet Rael flanked by young 
female followers.

At the same time, the fact that 25% of editorial and op-ed comment appears 
to be at least equivocal concerning the acceptability of reproductive 
cloning is disturbing. This figure could reflect the commitment of editors 
to ensure that all sides of an issue receive equal attention, even if one 
side has little support. It might reflect random sampling error or bias in 
the selection of the 42 pieces themselves. Or it could suggest that many 
newspaper editorial and op-ed staffs hold values about cloning that differ 
from those held by the majority of people.

Up-to-the minute compilations of news and opinion about human cloning, 
culled from publications around the world, can be found at Google News and 
Yahoo Full Coverage:
http://news.google.com/news?q=cloning
http://story.news.yahoo.com/fc?cid=34&tmpl=fc&in=Science&cat=Cloning

II. TWO IMPORTANT OP-EDS

Two notable opinion pieces published last week are those by:

- Marcy Darnovsky, "Genetics and Society: The Misstep of Human Cloning," 
San Francisco Chronicle (January 6, 2003)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2003/0 1/
06/ED3915.DTL

- Bill McKibben, "A Threat to Our Coherent Human Future," Washington Post, 
(January 5, 2003)
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A15010-2003Jan5.html

CGS Associate Executive Director Marcy Darnovsky argues: "As 
environmentalists, feminists and advocates of human rights, disability 
rights, civil rights and social justice the world over are proclaiming, the 
act of cloning a human baby is fundamentally irresponsible to our future as 
humans.... Considered in its fuller dimensions, the safety of human cloning 
turns out to be an issue of medical ethics, human rights and gendered 
economic exploitation as well. A wider lens reveals a range of other 
crucial questions about the social implications of cloning."

Environmental writer Bill McKibben writes: "But the weirdness of the 
Raelians should not be allowed to obscure the wider mission they share with 
other self-proclaimed pioneers on the human genetic frontier -- people who, 
though cloaked in science instead of sectarianism, foresee remaking human 
beings in ways that make the genesis of baby Eve seem almost innocent."

III. CGS AT THE WORLD SOCIAL FORUM

The Center for Genetics and Society will be present at the upcoming World 
Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The Forum is a meeting space for 
those opposed to excessive corporate power and "engaged in building a 
planetary society centered on the human person, [to] come together to 
pursue their thinking, to debate ideas democratically, for formulate 
proposals, share their experiences freely and network for effective 
action." For this third year, an expected 100,000 civil society leaders, 
activists, writers, students, and government officials will gather on 
January 23 to 28.

CGS presentations at the WSF include:
- "Genetics and Social Justice: The Global Politics of the New Human 
Genetic and Reproductive Technologies." Panel organized by CGS, featuring 
Marcy Darnovsky, Associate Executive Director, CGS (US); Alejandra Rotania, 
Executive Director, Ser Mulher (Brazil/Argentina); Rosario Isasi, Canadian 
Program on Genomics and Global Health, University of Toronto, CGS (Canada/
Peru); Marsha Darling, Associate Professor of History and Director, Center 
for African American & Ethnic Studies Programs, Adelphi University (US); 
Jurema Werneck, Coordinator, CRIOLA (Brazil).
- Marcy Darnovsky of CGS is presenting on two additional panels:
- The Ecology / Sustainability panel of the "Life After Capitalism" series 
organized by Z Magazine. Other panelists include John Hepburn (Australia) 
and Vandana Shiva (India). Monday, January 27, 1:30 PM.
- "Genetics in the Context of Health," organized by Dr. Laura Jardim, 
Hospital de Clinicas de Porto Alegre. Other panelists include Victor 
Penchaszadeh (US), Jorge Sequeiros Director (Portugal), Lavínia Schüller-
Faccini (Brazil), Alda Souza (Portugal), José Roberto Goldim (Brazil), 
Francisco Mauro Salzano (Brazil).

If you will be in Porto Alegre, please get in touch with Jesse Reynolds at 
jreynolds@genetics-and-society.org .

See:
http://www.forumsocialmundial.org.br/home.asp
http://www.portoalegre2003.org/publique/
http://www.zmag.org/lac.htm


IV. UC REGENTS LECTURE BY CHARLES WEINER: "THE TROUBLED HELIX"

Charles Weiner, MIT Professor of History of Science and Technology 
(Emeritus), will give the Regents Lecture at the University of California, 
Berkeley, titled "The Troubled Helix: Ethical Conflicts, Political Choices, 
and the Role of Universities." The event, at 4 pm on Monday, February 10 in 
Room 159 of Mulford Hall on the UC Berkeley campus, is open to the public.

V. NEWSLETTER SUBSCRIPTION AND FORMATS

For information on subscribing and unsubscribing to the CGS email 
newsletter Genetic Crossroads, and on changing between enhanced HTML and 
plain text formats, go to
http://www.genetics-and-society.org/r.asp?s=gc28&t=newsletter.

For information about the Center for Genetics and Society go to
http://www.genetics-and-society.org/r.asp?s=gc28&t=about.



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