Human cloning has captured the attention of the country. In
few weeks it has been the subject of a Congressional vote (see
Crossroads Bulletin #3, August 2), a conference held by the
prestigious scientific body in the US (see below), and intense
scrutiny. George Bush talked about cloning in his speech on
research, and the ethics board he appointed will deliberate
on it. The
researchers who say they are working to produce a cloned child
headlines, as did the announcement by a biotechnology company
intends to clone human embryos in its privately funded laboratory.
Some of the news is encouraging. The House of Representatives
in favor of a tough cloning ban. Pro-choice and progressive
condemning human cloning and inheritable genetic modification
beginning to organize and be heard. A few prominent scientists
spoken out about the social and political threats posed by cloning,
as well as about its serious health risks. France, Germany and
countries are asking the UN General Assembly to consider working
towards a global ban on human cloning. An influential group
conservatives that oppose human cloning is working to untangle
abortion politics. In poll after poll, huge majorities reject
production of cloned or genetically "redesigned" children.
Other developments are disturbing. Many scientists and others
they believe cloning will be acceptable once it can be done
Too few progressives are aware of what's at stake in the push
cloning and inheritable genetic modification. Commercial interest
these dangerous technologies is quickly increasing. Confusion
relationship between stem cell research and cloning is widespread.
This issue of Genetic Crossroads addresses many of these topics
gives pointers to information about others. But the most important
message is this: We now face, with much heightened urgency,
of building a broad groundswell to stop the technologies of
At this moment, the two constituencies visible in US debates
human genetic technologies are the biotechnology lobby and opponents
abortion rights. Thus media coverage typically pits overblown
of regenerative medicine against the claims of abortion foes
moral status of embryos, and downplays or ignores the enormous
and political consequences of human cloning and inheritable
modification. No wonder, then, that many people are unaware
techniques used in cloning would open the door for inheritable
modification and the takeoff of a new market-driven eugenics.
Our job is to alert and activate the broad constituencies who
yet fully understood or engaged the dangers of eugenic engineering.
the next few weeks we will be launching a web site and planning
of public events. Genetic Crossroads will keep you informed
organizing developments and about events related to the new
genetic technologies as they unfold.