Since the beginning of the year human cloning has become a live political
issue in countries around the world. Even in the United States, where
technologies of human genetic manipulation are being most aggressively
promoted, a federal cloning ban will soon be debated. (See below.)
A US ban on human cloning would be an important step toward bringing
human genetic and reproductive technologies under societal control.
it would be only a first step. The US must also join those countries
that have already outlawed human germline engineering. This technology,
which would allow the production of genetically "enhanced"
would serve as the keystone of a frankly eugenic agenda that has
gathered a disturbing number of adherents among scientists and others.
"Genetic enhancement" has also been in the news of late:
on the front
page of the New York Times (May 11, "Someday Soon, Athletic Edge
Be From Altered Genes") and in the May 14 issue of Sports Illustrated
("Unnatural Selection: Genetic Engineering is About to Produce
Breed of Athlete Who Will Obliterate the Limits of Human Performance").
Both articles focus on the introduction of genes into existing people.
(Medical experiments with such gene transfer procedures, technically
known as "somatic" genetic engineering, are currently underway
Both articles acknowledge that the use of genetic engineering to
"enhance" individuals would be medically dangerous, and
and ethically controversial. But both also contain many claims that
such procedures are inevitable. The NY Times article, for example,
states that "athletes, scientists and sports administrators universally
agree that someone will attempt genetic engineering, if they have
already." And both blur somatic gene transfer, germline engineering,
and other eugenic practices such as the purchase of human eggs from
women thought to be in some way "superior."
As techno-eugenic advocate Gregory Stock writes, "[H]uman cloning
most significant as a symbol: it has served notice that humanity is
going to change more than the landscape we inhabit. . .Whether or
human cloning is banned will have little impact on that critical
transformation because biotechnology is racing ahead on a broad front."
Gregory Stock, The Prospects for Human Germline Engineering, 1/29/99,