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Genetic Crossroads
November 24th, 2003

CGS Report: National Polices Governing New Technologies
of Human Genetic Modification

A survey of national policies by the Center for Genetics and
Society shows that as of November 2003, 77% of countries still
have not taken action to ban reproductive human cloning, and
86% of countries have not taken action to ban inheritable genetic
modification. Tables show policies by world, region, and individual


GLBT Fact Sheet: "Implications of the New Genetic
and Reproductive Technologies for the GLBT Community"

Includes discussion of myths about reproductive cloning, new
forms of discrimination, the hunt for the "gay gene,"
and policies needed for healthy families. Some excerpts:

  • "Efforts to identify a `gay gene' and obtain statistical
    correlations between this and behavioral and social data could
    lead to gross abuse.
  • "Our resources are far better spent advocating for
    equal access to existing means of family building, legal protections
    for GLBT parents and children, and full social acceptance
    of GLBT families….Touting cloning as a new reproductive
    option for same-sex couples substitutes a technical fix for
    committed and compassionate social engagement."


Report: "Beyond Therapy: Biotechnology and the
Pursuit of Happiness," The President's Council on Bioethics
(Oct. 2003)

Last year the President's Council on Bioethics reported sharp
divisions over therapeutic cloning, but this second report suggests
there may be greater agreement over the dangers of non-therapeutic
uses of genetic technology. Topics considered include techniques
for screening genes and testing embryos, choosing the sex of
children, augmenting muscle size and strength, enhancing athletic
performance, slowing senescence, blunting painful memories,
altering basic temperaments, and more.


Article: "Human Cloning: Can It Be Made Safe?"
Susan Rhind et al, Nature Reviews Genetics (Nov. 2003)

After a comprehensive review of animal cloning experiments,
"Dolly" scientist Ian Wilmut and other researchers
conclude that it is not currently known if stem cells derived
from clonal embryos can be made safe for therapeutic purposes.
They warn that "future therapies …will …remain
distant until much more is known about the basic molecular mechanisms
that are involved in nuclear reprogramming," and propose
a research program to study those mechanisms.


Article: Nicholas Wade, "Should We Improve Our
Genome?," New York Times (Nov. 11)

Noted New York Times reporter Nicholas Wade reviews the
enthusiastic proposals some scientists have made to create genetically
"perfect" children, and concludes, "If we reduce
genetic differences, we risk turning the human population into
one giant clone, tedious to meet with and bereft of the variation
needed to respond to changing environments. The pursuit of perfection,
if carried to extremes, is a sure recipe for extinction."



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