The KC Star is one of the most biased newspapers in the country when it comes to the cloning debate. I was given the courtesy of writing an op/ed piece on the issue last week, it is true, for which I am grateful. But the news reportage continues to misstate the science of what is sometimes called therapeutic cloning.
Here is the usual depiction in a story, byline, Kevin Murphy:
“That procedure takes the nucleus from an ordinary cell, such as a skin cell, and inserts it into an unfertilized egg that has had its nucleus removed. The cell is stimulated and begins to divide. The process produces early stem cells, which have the potential to grow into all the tissues of the body. Scientists hope to learn how to coax those cells into becoming heart muscle to treat heart attack victims, insulin-producing cells to treat diabetes, and nerve cells to treat spinal injuries.”
1. The “cell does not begin to divide.” It transforms into an embryo, which divides along the same manner as an embryo made via fertilization.
2. The process does not produce “early stem cells.” This is a wholly unscientific term that is being used for political purposes, with the full cooperation of the Star.
3. The embryo is not just stem cells. It is an organism. To get the embryonic stem cells, the embryo is destroyed.
4. This has yet to be accomplished in the laboratory, as far as we know.
That’s a lot of inaccuracy in just a few sentences. Pulitzer is turning over in his grave.