Scientists have announced that they have made mature eggs from ovarian stem cells. They want to fertilize said eggs and experiment on the embryos before destroying them after 14 days. From the Independent story:
The first human egg cells that have been grown entirely in the laboratory from stem cells could be fertilised later this year in a development that will revolutionise fertility treatment and might even lead to a reversal of the menopause in older women. Scientists are about to request a licence from the UK fertility watchdog to fertilise the eggs as part of a series of tests to generate an unlimited supply of human eggs, a breakthrough that could help infertile women to have babies as well as making women as fertile in later life as men. Producing human eggs from stem cells would also open up the possibility of replenishing the ovaries of older women so that they do not suffer the age-related health problems associated with the menopause, from osteoporosis to heart disease. Some scientists are even suggesting the possibility of producing an “elixir of youth” for women, where the menopause is eradicated and older women will retain the health they enjoyed when younger.
Please. Helping older women have babies, whatever one might think of its propriety, is not what this technology is primarily about. Rather, mass egg production would open the door to assembly line human cloning experimentation. But they won’t say that because it could jeopardize public support.
Cloning is the dream technology for those who intend to completely deconstruct the definition of family, and more broadly, to open up Brave New World technologies from the theoretical to the implementable. But it has been thwarted so far by what I call the egg dearth. Each cloning attempt requires an egg, you see. UK scientists tried cow eggs without success. But if a virtually unlimited egg supply can be derived, that would permit mass cloning experiments, leading eventually to overcoming the complexities that have so far thwarted perfecting the technique in humans.
These experiments will be unethical in my view, because nascent human beings will be created for the purpose of using them as a mere resource. That, alas, is nothing new. However, if the eggs prove usable, the next step will be manufacturing human life via cloning. That, in turn, will eventually lead to reproductive cloning, fetal farming for organs, experiments in genetic engineering, etc. Huxley warned us it would come to this.
Don’t think those things can’t be done. Never bet against the ingenuity and imagination of scientists. But we can prevent them from happening through law, regulation, and strangling the money supply. Leaders of states and nations, the time has come: Follow the UN General Assembly’s lead and outlaw all human cloning as “incompatable with human dignity and the protection of human life.” If that can’t be done, at least outlaw taxpayer funding to pay for human cloning experiments.
Will we control science or will science control us? The jury is definitely out.