Human Exceptionalism

Another Example of Poor Journalism in Describing Therapeutic Cloning

I know I wrote an article on this type of media bias just a few days ago. But, they just keep on coming. Perhaps, I should start collecting the erroneous/inaccurate descriptions of somatic cell nuclear transfer and therapeutic cloning published in newspapers and use them for wrapping paper.

Here’s one sent me from yesterday’s New York Times (natch), written by Nicolas Wade:

“The two scientists’ article, published June 17, attracted considerable attention because it reported the first step toward the proposed goal of therapeutic cloning, the idea of treating patients with new tissues generated from their own cells. Dr. Hwang said he had converted the adult cells of 11 patients suffering from various diseases into embryonic form, in each case by transferring the nucleus of an adult cell into an unfertilized human egg. Scientists hope that tissues developed from such embryonic cells could be used to treat a wide range of serious diseases.”

Adult cells were not “converted” to embryonic form. What Hwang did was create human embryos through cloning. He developed the embryos for about a week and then destroyed them for their stem cells. The cells were no more the DNA donor’s than the cells of a natural embryo are those of its parents. That’s the biological fact, but the NYT doesn’t think its fit to print.

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