GENTECH archive 8.96-97

[Index][Thread]

Final Cloning Position Paper



>MIME-Version: 1.0
>Date:         Mon, 10 Mar 1997 22:23:19 -0500
>Reply-To:     CRG Board of Directors <CRGBRD-L@MITVMA.MIT.EDU>
>Sender:       CRG Board of Directors <CRGBRD-L@MITVMA.MIT.EDU>
>From:         Wendy McGoodwin <wendy@ESSENTIAL.ORG>
>Subject:      Final Cloning Position Paper
>To:           CRGBRD-L@MITVMA.MIT.EDU
>
>Position Statement on Cloning
>by the Council for Responsible Genetics
>
>
>A call for a worldwide ban on human cloning  . . .  and wider public
>debate about biotechnology
>
>
>I.  We call upon the nations of the world to prohibit the cloning of human
>beings, by incorporating such prohibitions into their national laws and
>statutes.
>
>II.  We call upon the United Nations to take the initial steps by
>constituting an International Tribunal to articulate the concerns arising
>in different nations, cultures, religions and belief systems, with respect
>to the potential cloning of humans.
>
>III.  We call upon the Congress of the United States to pass legislation
>to:
>
>1)  Prohibit the cloning of humans either through embryo splitting or
>nuclear transfer.
>
>2)  To exclude animals and plants, their organs, tissues, cells or
>molecules from patenting, whether naturally occurring or cloned.
>
>IV.  We call upon the citizens of the world and their institutions,
>including the media, to promote a vigorous public debate regarding the
>cloning of animals, and in particular, which practices are acceptable and
>which are are not.
>
>
>In the course of human history our species has recognized many behaviors
>that are counter to the interests of the survival, development and
>flourishing of individuals within civilization.  Among these are
>involuntary servitude, or slavery; torture, the use of poison gas, the use
>of biological weapons, and human experimentation without consent.  Human
>societies are working on preventing other destructive practices such as
>child labor, environmental degradation, nuclear war and global warming.
>
>The cloning of sheep and monkeys opens up the specter of human cloning.
>The fundamental character of this activity is to transform humans into
>commodities, to devalue the relationship of humans to each other and to
>their culture.  Just as the 13th Amendment outlawed slavery, and other
>laws prohibited torture, child labor, and other forms of human
>exploitation, the time has come to prohibit human cloning.  We therefore
>call upon the United States, individual nations, and the United Nations to
>declare the cloning of humans beings an immoral and illegal activity.
>
>**"Can" does not imply "ought"**
>Despite the sheep cloners' disclaimer of any intent to apply this
>technique to humans, mainstream commentators, including "bioethicists,"
>are already peddling the ideas of cloning dying children or 100%
>compatible human organ donors.  (Transplantation of fetal pancreatic and
>brain tissue is already being used experimentally for treating diabetes
>and ParkinsonUs disease in adults).  Scientists are reluctant to aver, for
>the record, technological or medical scenarios that appear bizarre or
>avant-garde.  We can expect that professional bioethicists and corporate
>marketing agents will ply their trade to make such new applications
>culturally palatable.
>
>**Some experiments will be prevented**
>By banning cloning, some scientific questions will be more difficult to
>answer.  But scientific convenience cannot be used to justify the
>degradation of the human condition, as occurred in the Nazi concentration
>camps, or in the Tuskegee syphilis study.  The difficulty in obtaining
>classes of biomedical information is not a sufficient justification for
>research that exploits and demeans human beings.
>
>**DNA is not destiny**
>Clones may share the same DNA, but they can hardly be described as
>"identical copies."  Developmental, environmental and social factors stamp
>each living creature with the mark of individuality, even in the case of
>genetically identical twins.  To be human is not the simple summation of
>genetic, biochemical or physiological processes.  It involves the learning
>of language, the transmission of historical knowledge, the generation of
>new knowledge, the creation and transmission of music, art and other forms
>of culture.  Culture and society exist outside of physiology and are not
>transmitted through genes or cells, but through human communication and
>interaction occurring in organized societies.
>
>**Hubris of enormous magnitude--improving on nature**
>Cloning per se will not be the most likely end point if this technique is
>attempted in humans.  The cell nuclei of a mature individual with known
>biological characteristics can be used as the raw material for
>"enhancement" techniques, involving introduction of extra or altered
>genes. The idea would be that the resulting clones would be "new" improved
>models, with increased disease resistance, and superior social,
>intellectual, or athletic skills. This highly questionable enterprise, now
>technically feasible, makes possible a virtually unlimited set of eugenic
>attempts at "improvement" from a culturally defined and arbitrary starting
>point.
>
>**Dangerous loss of diversity**
>Even if the cloning technique were entirely confined to nonhuman animals
>in the foreseeable future, it would still be problematic.  The robustness
>of natural populations, including their flexible response to new
>conditions and hence resistance to disease, lies to a great extent in
>their genetic variability.  This characteristic would be entirely
>eliminated in a population of clones.  The near total loss of the entire
>U.S. corn crop in the 1970's as a result of monoculture--overuse of too
>narrow a genetic base--is a harbinger of what could happen with cloned
>livestock.
>
>**Animals on the assembly line**
>Proponents suggest that farm animals of the future could be cloned to
>better maximize agricultural production: sheep cloned for softer wool or
>cows for higher milk yield.  Transgenic animals could be cloned to produce
>human pharmaceuticals or even organs for human transplantation.  But are
>we prepared to view animals solely as lucrative biofactories, useful only
>in their capacity to serve human needs?  When utility becomes the sole
>lens through which we view nonhuman animals, we have begun a systematic
>ethical decline.
>
>**Erosion of respect for life**
>The industrialized production of agricultural animals according to
>pre-specified standards will inevitably undermine any respectful stance
>toward animals that may remain in our highly corporatized culture.  Our
>experience undermines any argument that the human realm can be
>successfully insulated from a basic disrespect for other living organisms.
>Our history of treating animals as commercial goods, as well as the
>current trend of dismantling social programs protecting our society's most
>vulnerable people (children, poor and elderly), are not encouraging in
>this
>regard.  Historical experience also points to a relationship between
>increased interest in genetic enhancement and decreased respect for the
>natural variation in ethnicity and ability in human life.
>
>**Democratizing technological practice**
>Genetic engineering is a technology developed largely with public tax
>funds.  Hence, in fashioning policies for its implementation we should
>reflect upon citizen concerns.  According to a recent Time/CNN poll of
>1005 adults, conducted Feb. 26-27, 93 percent of Americans oppose the
>cloning of humans, and 66 percent oppose the cloning of animals.  The
>Council for Responsible Genetics joins the call for a worldwide ban on
>human cloning and for wide public debate on the wisdom and ethics of
>animal cloning.
>
>
>_________________________________________________________________
>
>Wendy L. McGoodwin, Executive Director
>Council for Responsible Genetics
>5 Upland Road, Suite 3
>Cambridge, MA  02140
>(617) 868-0870  tel
>(617) 491-5344 fax
>wendy@essential.org
>_________________________________________________________________
>

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><
Philip L. Bereano
Professor
Department of Technical Communication
University of Washington
14 Loew Hall, Box 352195
Seattle, WA 98195-2195

ph: (206) 543-9037
fx: (206) 543-8858
e-mail:  phil@uwtc.washington.edu
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