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Genetic Crossroads
October 20th, 2006

"Stem cell experts seek licence to create human-rabbit embryo," by Ian Sample, The Guardian (October 5)
"British scientists are seeking approval to create embryos by fusing human cells with animal eggs in controversial research which will boost stem cell science and tackle some of the most debilitating and untreatable neurological diseases. Three teams in London, Edinburgh and Newcastle are to submit simultaneous applications to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority this month, requesting licences to create early-stage "chimeric" embryos that will be 99.9% human and 0.1% rabbit or cow. The HFEA has sought legal advice and encouraged the applications."

"Hope, unfulfilled promises on stem cell work," by Sally Lehrman, Boston Globe (October 1)
"Scientists in many fields have sometimes exaggerated the importance of their work. But stem cell researchers seem uniquely inclined toward dramatic claims…. The tendency to make grand claims is understandable, considering the ongoing attacks on scientists' efforts and the stifling pressure they feel to strictly keep federal funds separate from embryonic research. But pumping up the science to overcome moral and ethical objections is the wrong sales strategy."

"The costly appliance of science," The Guardian (September 14)
"Many will condemn this as a resurgence of 'eugenics', the view, especially popular in the early 20th century, that hereditary traits should be improved through active intervention. So it is, in a way, and in the hands of authoritarian regimes, genetic selection could resemble the evils of earlier forms of eugenics, with their advocacy of odious, pseudoscientific official policies, particularly concerning 'racial hygiene'. In liberal, market-driven societies, however, eugenics will not be coercively imposed by the state for the collective good. Instead, it will be the outcome of parental choice and the workings of the free market. If it leads to healthier, smarter people with better problem-solving abilities, that will be a good thing. But even if parents make choices that are good for their children, there could be perils as well as blessings."


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