Human Exceptionalism

Desperate to Clone: Reward Offered

Human cloning is very hard to do, apparently. Indeed, despite the race to win a Nobel Prize by creating the first embryonic stem cells from cloned embryos, I only know of one experiment that seems to have resulted in the creation of cloned human embryos that reached the one week stage–and even that experiment has been called into some question because it claimed to use the pioneering method invented by Wu-suk Hwang that turned out to be utterly fraudulent.

The political-scientists have put a lot of prestige on the line forcing a reluctant public to accept cloning as a potential medical panacea. This is particularly true in Australia where a total ban on cloning was recently rescinded at the insistence of scientists who claimed regenerative medicine should trump anti-cloning beliefs. And politicians who went along will look very bad if it all doesn’t work out.

Thus it comes as no surprise that the premier of New South Wales is offering a $500,000 prize for the first scientist that creates an embryonic stem cell line from a cloned human embryo. So, we have gone from legalization to financial incentives to do cloning experiments–perhaps at the expense of other experiments that could offer better prospects.

We shouldn’t be surprised. Once legalization occurs, the rush is on for public funding. Australia follows the pattern. From the story in the Australian:

With laws lifted on the previously illegal practice, the State Government is now looking to actively fund research to make NSW the world centre of stem cell and cloning technology. It is the next step along the road to a new medical industry in NSW producing potentially life-saving stem cells. The controversial method of extracting stem cells has been banned in a host of countries – following moral pressure from conservative lobby groups – but was recently legalised in NSW via a conscience vote in Parliament. Yesterday Mr Iemma said that with the legislation being passed allowing therapeutic cloning, funding would be allocated from a special $11.5 million fund to develop it.

That won’t get them very far down the cloning road. Successfully learning how to reliably create cloned embryos may take billions. And it might take decades–not that this bit of inconvenient news gets in the way of a political stampede.

Notice too that once cloning is legalized, they willingly call it cloning. In this country, before cloning is legalized, the political-scientists usually claim it isn’t cloning. Such are the deceptions of the political class.