Human Exceptionalism

Utter Stem Cell Ignorance

Is it any wonder that people are confused about stem cell research? Take this article published by Tiscali.Europe, apparently one of the continent’s premier providers of internet services, as one example of hopeless cluelessness. (I bring this up because millions of people may have accessed this article.) Among the stupidities, its author Stephanie Kendrick writes:

“In 2003, a Korean team took several egg cells and the cells that surround them (cumulus cells) from 16 women. The nucleus (where all the information about a cell is contained) was extracted from the egg cell and was replaced with the nucleus of the cumulus (or stem) cell. The egg cell was activated using a small electric shock and a chemical reaction to start it growing, as if fertilised by a sperm cell. This growth and reproduction is called a stem cell line, a family of constantly-dividing cells, the product of a single parent group of stem cells.

“The Koreans stopped the line after five to seven days, where it had reached the blastocyst stage. They then removed some of the stem cells and proceeded to grow these even further, giving the scientific community hope that one day medicine might be able to grow these cells into tissues.”

Good grief! Where does one begin? SCNT (which is what she attempts to describe) does not use a stem cell. The product of cloning would not be a stem cell line, it would be a cloned embryo. Moreover, poor Stephanie does not even know that the Korean research was a total fraud.

“In the United States, George Bush, also recently used his personal veto in order to stop a controversial bill that would have seen a ban on US federal funding for stem cell research lifted. Instead, strict new measures were brought in to protect human embryos.”

Both sentences are totally incorrect. There is no “ban” on federal funding of ESCR, there are restrictions. I have no idea what “strict new measures were brought in to protect human embryos.” Maybe she is referring to the fetal farming ban?

I bring this up because the pro cloners thrive on this kind of factual inaccuracy and fundamental ignorance about the entire debate. Indeed, they often sow it.


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