Human Embryo Cloned.
November 25, 2001 1:52 PM   Subscribe

Human Embryo Cloned. Brave new world, or dawn of the master race? Again, law is way behind technology. Is the march unstoppable? Here's the "inside story". Scientific American also weighs in with a story written by the scientists.
posted by owillis (21 comments total)

I'm parting tonight, down with all you anti-science types!
posted by delmoi at 1:58 PM on November 25, 2001

"They were such tiny dots, yet they held suchimmense promise" -The opening line from the Scientific American link (emphasis mine)


I'm sure there are many valuable and useful reasons to clone the human embryo. But, I'm not even religious and I can still see all of the dangerous and unethical crap that this kind of research can (and will) result in. It's not about being anti-science. It's about understanding the consequences of one's actions.
posted by eyeballkid at 2:04 PM on November 25, 2001

Timid Old World
posted by frednorman at 2:04 PM on November 25, 2001

Or New Dimensions in Self Hatred, perhaps...
posted by y2karl at 2:12 PM on November 25, 2001

Now what color skin will this master race have?
posted by geoff. at 2:16 PM on November 25, 2001

The advance will not only stir up the ongoing scientific and ethical controversy over human cloning, he predicted, but also will “make some people worried that cloning of human beings is inevitable.”

it will also make some people ecstatic that cloning of human beings is inevitable. but hold onto your hats. armies of religious savages quivering in fear for your souls are about to take to the streets. on the other hand, cloning the insane will likely be made illegal, so they'll eventually all die off. woo hoo!
posted by quonsar at 2:37 PM on November 25, 2001

the master race already walks around us, and they have been for a number of years now.

I'm talking, of course, about the australians!
posted by mcsweetie at 2:39 PM on November 25, 2001

Nice. Maybe I'll buy one for parts.
posted by mgkk at 2:42 PM on November 25, 2001

Another appalling chapter in human history. (Makes me think 'deliberation' should be noted in the dictionary as obsolete.)
posted by mmarcos at 2:53 PM on November 25, 2001

I can't find a quote in the moment, but I've read in several places, that far from being freaksome xerox copies of their source, a cloned human is likely to be significantly less like its genetic source person than an identifical twin is to its twin.

Unlike all twin, clones will have different mitochondrial DNA and will differ in each other respect associated with the ova in which the source nucleus is implanted ... unless the source is a woman and her own ova are used, or the sister or other female line relative is used. They will have a completely different fetal environment, even if the same mother is used, because of differences in time, nutrition, and so forth. Different blends of internal flora and fauna will be passed on in the immediately pre-natal and post-natal periods, and, of course, profoundly different environmental factors will be at work in the key developmental years.

The only way that clones will have any sort of disruptive effect is if the state meddles in the first place ... if cloning is banned, if clones are made to be less than fully persons at law, and so forth, then there would be dramatic effects, but all of them self-fulfiling prophesies.

Certainly, the legal "parenthood" of clones will need to be sorted out ... my big fear is that the courts and the state will refuse to adopt laws clarifying these matters for fear of appearing to sanction something they regard as immoral, leaving the legal issues to be dangerously unresolved.
posted by MattD at 3:10 PM on November 25, 2001

Could someone connect the dots to explain to me why this has any conceivable connection to "the dawn of the master race"?

The only scenarios that I can imagine involve implausible things like an eccentric billionaire or a demented cult leader paying or forcing thousands of women to bear genetically identical copies of herself (or himself). This sounds more like "the legion of bozos" than "the master race" to me. Rather than ruling the world, the resulting unfortunates would have to be protected from discrimination.

If reproductive cloning becomes possible (and it's still a long way off), it would actually be used as a method of last resort to permit infertile couples to have children. Is there anything wrong with that? The obvious non-religious arguments (like the existence of orphans and other children in need of fostering) apply equally well to the reproductive technologies that already exist, like in vitro fertilization.

In any case, the cited research is aimed in a completely different direction, not towards reproductive cloning at all but towards therapeutic cloning. It points toward cures for diseases as varied as diabetes, spinal cord injury, Parkinson's disease and congestive heart failure. This would be a incredible step, with as big an impact as sewers, anesthesia and antiseptic surgery, antibiotics and things like that. I'd like to hear some expert skepticism, which I suspect may be warranted -- but that's different from reflex shivers at the word associations of "clone".

As for the clone armies of the hive queen, or whatever, can someone help me to see these concerns as rational ones?
posted by myl at 3:31 PM on November 25, 2001

"Dolly scientist plays down US clone: Dr Ian Wilmut, who led the team that produced Dolly the sheep clone at the Roslin Institute, Edinburgh, said the embryo created by Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) was not fully developed."
posted by Carol Anne at 4:41 PM on November 25, 2001

They aren't trying to grow humans. They're trying to grow stem cells. Even for people who have a problem with what cloning could lead to or what stem cell research could lead to, this seems like the perfect compromise to me.

With this technique, you take some cell scrapings, implant them in a donated egg, and it multiplies a few dozen times to produce some cells. Presumably, the donated genetic material will ultimately come from the person for who new organs or whatever is being grown.

Even for people who believe a soul enters the fetus at fertilization, that isn't happening here. They're just using the properties of the donated egg to cause the cells to reproduce in a way that is useful and different from how they would have divided if they weren't first put into the egg.
posted by willnot at 5:11 PM on November 25, 2001

What a "debate". On one side we have pro-cloning arguments such as medical uses and the like. One the other we have the anti-cloning arguments such as "It's EVIL!" and "Watch out! The MASTER RAACCCEEEE! Aaaah!"

I mean, really.
posted by Poagao at 5:54 PM on November 25, 2001

That's the post of the week, and it's only Sunday.
posted by kindall at 6:17 PM on November 25, 2001

posted by Dav0xor at 7:22 PM on November 25, 2001

Just fyi, I was being provocative in my blurb. I think the "master race" folks are overly hysterical. While I'm pro-clone, I worry what money-hungry corporations will do when they have the "power" to "create life" (cue Frankenstein-theme)...
posted by owillis at 8:38 PM on November 25, 2001


Something about the existence of this phrase bothers me.
posted by chiheisen at 9:16 PM on November 25, 2001

I predict cloning arguments will one day be as irritating as abortion arguments. Lucky for me, my existing abortion opinions can be used without changing much besides the noun.
posted by thirteen at 9:25 PM on November 25, 2001

posted by Kikkoman at 10:32 PM on November 25, 2001

I second delmoi's WOOHOO, and add a "In Yo' Face!" to all the luddies out there. Cloning is going to happen, baby, just you try and stop it!

Humankind is finally stealing the holy fire and taking control of our own destiny. Down with the tyranny of mother nature! Ah, it's good to be a primate.

Now if we could just get that moon colony started...
posted by signal at 11:19 PM on November 25, 2001

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