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EDITORS' NOTE

Genetic Crossroads
October 16th, 2000



Developments in genetic and reproductive technology are proceeding
at a

furious pace. These stories have surfaced just in the past month:


o the Nash case and its implications for genetically enhanced
babies

o the discovery of a patent application for a pig-human embryo

o the announcement by the Raelian "religion" that
it will soon try

to clone a dead child (see Issue 11 of this newsletter)

o the transgenic glowing rabbit created as a work of art

o claims by a biotech company that cloning is a good way to
save

endangered species


We have entered a critical period. Most people are not fully
aware of

the implications of these fast-moving technologies, and many
media

accounts muddy the situation by echoing claims that their use
is

inevitable. Advocates of "designer humans" are doing
their best to

control the debate, and to portray human genetic modification
as an

issue of reproductive choice and scientific progress.


Many countries have already acted to ban human reproductive
cloning

and germline engineering--the most threatening of the new genetic

technologies--and to establish regulations for others. The European

Commission has announced that it will sponsor a symposium in
Brussels

in early November to explore a common European policy on these
matters.


In the United States, independent evaluation of these technologies
and

the political issues they raise is beginning, and activist responses

to them are getting underway. Greater involvement by the public
and

civil society organizations is urgently needed. It will be far
easier

to prevent a techno-eugenic future if we act soon, before human
genetic

modification develops further, either as technology or ideology.

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