The Corner

Cloning and Scientists

An email from a cloning opponent:

Just saw your Corner post about the survey of genetics researchers on stem

cells and cloning. The numbers, as Wesley Smith says in that article, are

based on a survey published by a journal called Genetic Engineering News.

The survey itself is a classic example of the confusion mixed with

intentional distortion that we deal with on this subject. The survey asked

about “cell cloning” when it meant creating embryos through cloning, and it

said “cells” in the early stages from which stem cells are derived “are not

embryos.” A totally inaccurate and incoherent description of what’s

involved. It even created an artificial category “between the extremes of

support for therapy and opposition to whole human cloning” which it called

“human cloning research without implantation of the cloned embryo in a human

uterus” (which of course IS what they’re calling “therapy”) and said only

34% of the scientists supported this, though 92% supported “therapeutic

cloning of human stem cells.” Just a mess.

Presumably, descriptions like these were in the actual questionnaire given

to these scientists, and they answered based on these definitions. That

doesn’t help us see what they actually think, and whether they actually do

know that cloning creates embryos for research, and that all embryonic stem

cell research involves destroying embryos. So it’s very hard to make heads

or tails of these numbers, and they basically don’t mean anything.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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