National Conference 2001, UK

Human Cloning and the Abuse of Power

Peter Garrett, M.A.
Research and Education Director of LIFE

In the cult film The Matrix (1999), we are drawn into a futuristic world in which the majority of unborn humans are bred as a food supply for the elect few whose destiny it is to be born. Vast fields of human embryos and unborn children hang from tree–like structures waiting to be 'juiced' and liquefied. The resulting 'drinks' are then pumped intravenously into the veins of the chosen few.

This briefing sheet sets out to answer two simple questions: first, how was so–called 'therapeutic' cloning legalised in the UK, and secondly, how far off is full pregnancy cloning? The answers we give to these questions will suggest how far away our society is from the nightmare world of The Matrix.

One helpful way of following the decision–making of the UK Parliament is to dispense with the old–fashioned notion that the outcome of debates is determined by the relative quality of the arguments deployed. Instead, one might acknowledge that the relative quantities of power—financial, media and political—decide every outcome.

To explore this phenomenon in more detail it may be helpful to make use of the analysis of power developed by Professor Steven Lukes in the late 1970s. According to Lukes there are three types or 'qualities' of power, which he terms primary, secondary and tertiary power respectively. Primary power involves physical force and may even, to use Pol Pot's famous expression, flow from the barrel of a gun. Secondary power involves the manipulation and control of agendas, Parliamentary time–tables and programme schedules or the contents of newspapers, journals and websites. It is deployed when debates are guillotined or filibustered, and when debates in the media (particularly national media) are stacked against one side of the argument. Tertiary power involves the alteration and manipulation of language. It 'occurs' when neologisms are created or terminology is deliberately changed. Phrases such as 'pre–embryo' and 'therapeutic cloning' have no scientific pedigree, but they are inserted into debate in an attempt to bring about behavioural changes in those involved. In this we hear the echo of George Orwell's warning that ahead of every social change we may expect to find a linguistic change. Indeed, it was Orwell himself who extrapolated the abuse of tertiary power to its logical conclusion in the form of Nineteen Eighty–Four's language—Newspeak. The ultimate idea is the suppression of dissent by the contraction and distortion of language.

You will detect the use and sometimes the abuse of the various types of power in the following short summary of some of the twists and turns in the Government's road to the legalisation of so–called 'therapeutic cloning'. The picture sequence below summarises the major steps in the 'therapeutic cloning' procedure.

In September 1999 Lord David Sainsbury was the Minister for Science. At that time a committee under the chairmanship of the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Liam Donaldson, was deliberating on the human cloning issue. Lord Sainsbury should have been neutral on the issue as he waited to have his mind informed by the 'Donaldson Report'. In fact, Lord Sainsbury appeared at a fringe meeting of the Labour Party Conference and declared his unequivocal enthusiasm for the farming of cloned human embryos. The meeting was sponsored by the Bio–Industry Association, and Lord Sainsbury shared a platform with Dr Simon Best, the Director of Geron Bio–Med which had taken a 12.5m stake in Roslin Institute—the birthplace of the world's first cloned mammal—Dolly the sheep.

Lord Sainsbury has been described as the unsackable minister because Tony Blair could hardly dismiss someone who has given 7 million to the Labour Party over the last few years. 7 million is small change to Lord Sainsbury who has 1,300 million (1.3bn) invested in a blind trust. He is also Chairman of the Cluster Policy Steering Group, which includes popular New Labour businessmen, and is supported by Dr Chris Evans (of whom, much more later).

Fast–forwarding now to the three key debates in the recent Parliamentary Campaign, namely, 15 December 2000, 19 December 2000 and 22 January 2001, a few points are worth highlighting.

On 15 December 2000 speaking in the House of Commons, the Parliamentary Under–Secretary of State for Health, Yvette Cooper, had this to say:

'We have provided considerable time for discussion, and as far as I know, no other regulations or statutory instruments have been given as much time on the floor of the House.' —Hansard 15 Dec 2000, column 935

This, however, missed two obvious and telling points. First, the debates of 17 Nov and 15 Dec both took place on Fridays, when most MPs have already departed for their constituencies; and secondly, the fact that such an important, far–reaching issue should not have been decided by way of a Statutory Instrument in the first place. It should have been granted a full–blown parliamentary bill.

Far and away the best speech made against cloning that day, was by Ms Ruth Kelly (Labour, Bolton West):

'....all of us should be concerned about the process as a form of germline gene therapy—the manipulation of future generations. As far as I can tell, that extraordinarily important result has not been debated at all.' – Hansard, 15 Dec 2000, column 900

She went on to point out that 'therapeutic' cloning would be a bridge to full pregnancy cloning; that the HFEA was already critically over–stretched and that adult body stem cells offer a solution to many problems without the ethical difficulties associated with embryonic stem cells.

It is a pity that Ruth Kelly felt unable to give her speech again 4 days later on 19 December when far more MPs would have heard it. Ruth Kelly was present in the House throughout the Debate on the 19th as others who had spoken on the 15th repeated themselves, but apart from one or two minor interjections she remained silent.

The Debate on the 19th was characterised by the failure of the anti–cloning MPs to deploy the most effective arguments against cloning. There was an over–reliance upon arguments in favour of adult stem cell technology, and an almost complete failure to cover the European/International perspective, the ethical arguments and the inadequacies of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.

In fact, a lack of communication between the various organisations providing briefings to the MPs resulted in 'tautology' and repetition. The problem in the House of Commons is compounded by the absence of an obvious leading figure on these issues. This makes organisation and co–ordination much more difficult than it is in the Lords, where Lord Alton functions as the hub of the wheel.

When the vote finally came in the Commons the result was a foregone conclusion, but the magnitude of the victory for the pro–cloning side still came as a horrible shock: Ayes 366, Noes 174—a pro–cloning majority of 192.

The following day (20 December) the Government announced its intention to bring the Statutory Instrument to the House of Lords one day after the beginning of the next parliamentary session. This provoked outrage right across the party divide with Peers regarding such haste as deeply offensive to the 'intelligence' of the Upper House. Fearing a large–scale revolt the Government relented and postponed the debate for one week, until the 22 January.

20 December had proved to be a useful day for the pro–life camp because the general feeling of antipathy towards the Labour Government's heavy–handedness facilitated some unexpected negotiations. Lord Alton found himself in conversation with two of his erstwhile enemies, Lady Warnock and the Rt. Reverend Richard Harries, the pro–cloning Anglican Bishop of Oxford. All three agreed that more time was needed to analyse the issue, and that a Select Committee of enquiry would be in keeping the best traditions of the Upper House.

Over Christmas and New Year the substantive issue of cloning become almost secondary to the procedural issues surrounding the vote and the issue of establishment or non–establishment of a House of Lords Select Committee of Enquiry. On Thursday 18 January the 'wavering centre' was coming round to the idea of a Select Committee and a majority was crystallising around Lord Alton's amendment to that effect. This would have effectively killed the pro–cloning Statutory Instrument because the committee could not possibly have reported ahead of the General Election expected in the spring or early summer. This would have resulted in the new Parliament being forced to re–open the entire process of debate again in the Commons.

On the evening of Thursday 18 January the pro–life lobby looked set to achieve its first major parliamentary victory in years, but one potential problem remained. Leaving the House of Lords on Thursday night the prolife team began to wonder what would happen if a counter amendment to Alton's amendment should call for a passing of the regulations and the simultaneous establishment of a Select Committee to deliberate retrospectively. The following morning our worst fear was confirmed when Lord Walton of Detchant tabled exactly that counter–amendment. Of course, from a logical perspective it does not make sense to analyse the evidence after pronouncing sentence upon the accused, but be that as it may the 'wavering centre' had found a new via media, and they took it in droves. Even Lady Warnock, one of the three progenitors of the idea of the Select Committee, voted pro–Walton and anti–Alton, while the inscrutable Richard Harries calculated that abstaining would help to defuse the row he had already provoked within the Church of England.

Lord Alton made a good, well–constructed speech and those who followed in support were well organised and well co–ordinated, numbering in their ranks both the former Attorney General, Lord Rawlinson of Ewell, and the distinguished human rights lawyer Lord Brennan. Both 'learned' lawyers advised that the 1990 HFE Act was under judicial review and might turn out to be no protection against cloning of any sort. Sadly, their call for a further pause for deliberation went unheeded and the Upper House followed the Lower House into ignominy by effectively approving human cloning by a massive majority. [Vote on Alton amendment: Contents 92, Not–Contents 212—pro–cloning majority of 120]

Full Pregnancy Cloning: How Long Now?

In 1995 Elio Sgreccia (now Archbishop Elio Sgreccia) wisely affirmed that human cloning would not happen because the 'imprinting' problem prevents the full expression of genome in adult body cell nuclei. Imprinting refers to the locked–in situation of many of the genes in the 'adult' cell nuclei. In each cell only the genes required for that location and function will be expressing themselves, and manufacturing proteins. The rest will be 'switched off' and will not be expressing themselves. As a geneticist Sgreccia was repeating the received wisdom, and almost all expert opinion agreed with him that the world was protected from human cloning by this central problem of cell biology.

Fast–forward two years to the world of Dolly the sheep, and suddenly the imprinting problem is making its exit. How significant was the arrival of Dolly? Well, one biologist suggested dividing the history of the world into BD and AD, while Dolly's progenitors Wilmut and Campbell entitled their own book on cloning The Second Creation. 1 So much for not wanting to play God!

Since Dolly's arrival the questions about human cloning of the full pregnancy variety has been transformed from 'will it ever happen?' to 'when will it happen?'

Writing now in the early spring of 2001 an answer to this question may be attempted.

Twelve months ago it was only the more outlandish websites or 'fringe' publications which speculated that the 'conception' and 'gestation' of the first full pregnancy clones was imminent, but over the last few months both Time 2 magazine and The Times 3 have carried features suggesting just that.

However, the fullest survey so far was published in Wired 4 in February 2001, and we will follow the main contours of that survey.

The first pro–cloning scientist profiled goes under the pseudonym the Creator, works for a research lab at a big name university, and claims to have been the first to envisage the correct pathway for overcoming the imprinting problem. He is an impulsive extrovert and has linked up with a European client who lost his son to disease just over one year ago, but kept tissue samples from his body.

Five to ten surrogate mothers will be contracted to carry cloned embryonic copies of the client's lost son and the 'creation work' will be carried out in a laboratory in one of Asia's largest cities. Commentating on the Creator's plan Dr Alan Trouson, an animal cloner and human IVF specialist, comments:

'The Creator's spirit has been awakened by the historic moment we're in right now, a convergence of under–the–radar pro–cloning agitation, falling taboos, and the inexorable march of science. These spheres are overlapping so neatly that human cloning could be done tomorrow.'

Dr Michael Bishop, President of Infigen, a company specialising in animal cloning, goes even further:

'Last spring, I attended a secretive summit which attracted every known human cloner. One evening after dinner, some of us were talking, and there was not one of us who believed it [human cloning] had not already happened.'

Thinking back to the investigation carried out by the Express newspaper in December 1998, and the fact that they discovered at least seven companies in the US already locked into a race to produce the first human clone, we might conclude that human clones have already been implanted in the wombs of surrogate mothers.

Dr Bishop went on to explain how Infigen is improving the efficiency of mammalian cloning:

'The goal is to erase the mammalian imprinting on the somatic cell's DNA. Infigen has done so well that its efficiency has climbed to 30 percent—the same as human IVF. Now the company has started using DNA microarrays to see exactly what the genes of a healthy embryo looks like. Such DNA microarrays will end the guesswork—cloning cows, pigs or people will be more efficient than natural reproduction.'

Meanwhile, the best headline–grabbing outfit of them all lurks in the hinterland of Montreal. Here you will find UFO land, the home base of the Raelian cult which is dedicating its considerable resource–base to solving the human cloning problem. The story behind the foundation of the cult may sound inauspicious, but the threat they pose as would–be human cloners needs to be taken seriously.

Rael, the leader of the cult, claims to have been abducted and molested by 'voluptuous robots' visiting earth in a UFO in 1973. The Raelians believe that mankind was placed on earth by intelligent beings from another planet who produced the first earthmen by way of cloning techniques. Rael notes that:

'Cloning is a religious process for the Raelians, and it will give us immortality which is the genetics of the Bible.'

The Raelians have two major advantages over most of the other groups in the full pregnancy cloning race. First, they have access to a rich supply of donated human eggs and second, they have at least fifty of their own female members who have volunteered to act as surrogate mothers for the cloned embryos. Even the daughter of Doctor Boisselier, the Raelians' chief scientist, has volunteered for the programme.

Boisselier herself is a highly qualified French chemist who now heads up a team with considerable expertise in the appropriate fields. Two of these scientists have been practising egg enucleations (removing the nuclei from the centres of the egg cells) since February 13 2001, in preparation for cell nuclear transfer. Time magazine revealed that the team expects to have implanted the first cloned human embryo by the end of March 2001.

When Ian Wilmut, Dolly's creator, was asked to comment upon the uses to which the Raelians were putting his research he was candid:

'It seems such a profound irony that in trying to make a copy of a child who has died tragically, one of the most likely outcomes is another dead child.'

Many expert commentators believe that the Raelians may lack the scientific expertise to win the human cloning race, and they argue that IVF specialists such as Italy's Severino Antinori will beat them to the prize.

Antinori gained his fame by helping a sixty–two–year–old woman to have a baby, an act which did little to endear him to the Catholic Church to which he says he belongs. He is wealthy, influential and scientifically well–connected. He has the audacity and the capacity to carry off the prize, and he argues that:

'In a year or so the world will accept cloning: after the first one is born, it will be beautiful (bellissimo). There will be a million in the world before long.'

Antinori isn't the only high–profile IVF specialist moving towards accepting full pregnancy cloning in certain cases. Peter Brinsdon at Bourn Hall in East Anglia is also prepared to consider it as a treatment for some types of intractable infertility, and Lord Robert Winston's position on the subject remains a mystery as his views move around like quick–sand:

'There is not the slightest possibility of human clones. Why? There are all kinds of reasons. One is because human eggs are in incredibly short supply.' – House of Lords, 22 January 2001.

'Sadly the media have sensationalised the implications, ignoring the huge potential of this experiment. In human reproduction, cloning techniques could offer prospects to sufferers from intractable infertility.' – Article by Winston entitled: 'The promise of Cloning for Human Medicine. Not a moral threat but an exciting challenge.' British Medical Journal, 29 March 1997.

Just to add to the confusion, two further quotations:

'There is no medical reason for cloning humans and there are obvious risks. I don't think that anyone seriously believes that there would be any benefit to cloning humans.' —The Times, 24 February 1997.
'I don't know [if cloning human beings could bring benefits] but I think probably, yes.' – Independent, Monday 12 January 1998.

All in all we must conclude that if the first cloned embryo pregnancies have not yet begun, they are going to happen in the next few days. These pregnancies may stay underground until an apparently healthy baby has been born. However, the intense competition between the various groups may force an early announcement. After all, it has been conservatively suggested that the initial media syndication rights to the story could be worth as much as 30 million. Meanwhile, as the cloners head for the mirage of Eldorado, the cloned embryos will die in great numbers. Extrapolating from the experiments which produced Dolly the sheep we might expect as many as 30 failed pregnancies to each apparent success! In fact, we can expect the vast majority of the cloned children to be deformed and 'mutated'. Many will grow too quickly and many will have damaged or non–existent immune systems. So little is known about the way in which the cytoplasm re–sets the imprinted nucleus that the classification system for the 'errors' produced will grow for years and years.

Human cloning will also be dangerous for the surrogate mothers in at least two ways. First, the misshapen embryos may come to represent a direct physical threat to the mother, with resultant calls for 'therapeutic' abortions. Secondly, cells migrate across the placenta during pregnancy, and these could remain in a biologically volatile state, possibly even triggering tumour formation in the mothers.

Added to this litany of medical carnage is the risk that the cloned baby's genetic clock may not have been re–set to zero, and the possibility of newborns with 'semi–decrepit' DNA looms into view. When Dolly was chromosomally tested she was found to be mutton dressed as lamb. Her chronological age was three, but her genetic or 'telomeric' age was nine. As Dolly was 'formed' from the nucleus of a cell taken from a six–year–old the explanation may not be hard to find.

In conclusion, we can only say that we are about to witness one of the most barbaric large–scale experiments in human history. The damage to innocent human lives is foreseeable and intended.

Ethics vs Profits?

Having looked at how human cloning was effectively legalised in the UK, and having attempted to determine how long it will be until the first full pregnancy clone is gestated by a surrogate mother, it is now time to turn to the deeper questions.

1. Why was embryonic human cloning effectively legalised?

2. Will this 'partial' legalisation help those involved in the global race to produce a cloned full pregnancy baby?

In order to persuade members of both Houses of Parliament to vote in favour of extending the reasons for which human embryos might be created and/or destroyed it was necessary for the pro–cloning lobby to show that embryonic stem cells offered much better prospects for research than those produced by stem cells sourced from adult tissues or from the umbilical chord blood of newborn babies.

The manner in which this was achieved by bringing forward reports and vested interest patient groups was well analysed by the prolife speakers in the debate of 22 January in the House of Lords. However, it is worth considering the aftermath to the debate because it revealed that a number of leading scientists judge that the presentation of the relative merits of the cases for different research avenues had been substantially skewed.

Professor Neil Scolding, Professor of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Bristol, writing in the The Lancet on 3 February 2001, had this to say 5:

'Two important points seem to underlie the Government's stance. The first is that embryo–derived stem cells are poised to unleash imminently their “huge power to end suffering”. The second is that there is no realistic alternative... [But] to dismiss potential alternatives is no longer sustainable. The past year or two have seen striking advances in our understanding of the biology and potential therapeutic value of stem cells from adult tissue. It is indeed the near breath–taking pace of this research now—four key papers appeared in December 2000 alone—that perhaps explains the lack of enthusiasm for adult stem cells expressed in the Donaldson and Royal Society reports, both of which were prepared 12 months ago.'

Scolding concludes by adding:

'If the “special status” of the human embryo means anything, surely the emergence of a perfectly viable and ethically robust alternative, which will neither delay nor limit the development of these exciting and much–needed treatments, should have dissuaded the UK Parliament from approving the cloning of human embryos purely as a means of production of stem cells.'

Meanwhile leading scientists in Germany and the Wall Street Journal in the USA had also concluded that adult stem cell routes offered at least as much potential as the ethically dubious embryonic route. In fact the Wall Street Journal suggested that the smart money would be going into adult stem cell explorations.

Given the national and international re–evaluation of the relative merits how do we explain the systematic 'skew' which came to affect the presentation of the science during our domestic debates? The answer lies in the murky world of politics, power and spin: a world upon which we can only momentarily lift the lid, leaving others to explore the true extent of the entanglements which dominate modern British democracy.

One aspect to remember is the size of the bioscience industry. In November 2000 Tony Blair gave a speech to the European Bioscience Conference in London, where he told those gathered that the market in Europe alone could be worth over $100 billion and could be employing three million people by 2005. He stressed this government's commitment to keeping Britain's lead in this area, stating: 'Biotechnology is the next wave of the knowledge economy and I want Britain to become its European hub.'

More sinisterly, however, he continued:

'Let us get to the facts and then judge their moral consequences... Our conviction about what is natural or right should not inhibit the role of science in discovering the truth.'

And specifically talking about stem cell research, which had been debated that day in the House of Commons, he stated that there was 'more than one morally acceptable outcome'.

'Some people are opposed in principle to all forms of embryo research on ethical grounds. But we must also recognise that when stem cell research has huge potential to improve the lives of those suffering from disease, there are also strong ethical arguments in favour so long as clear and effective regulation remains in place.'

And this attitude was exhibited in the House of Commons where, although MPs was supposed given free vote, the government placed a lot of pressure in order to have the regulations passed. Greenpeace, in response to this speech which also criticised GM crops protestors, accused Tony Blair of 'slavishly' worshipping science. With $100 billion on the line, surely it is the case that he is slavishly worshipping money.

In the frenzied run–up to the House of Lords debate of 22 January Lord Winston (himself ennobled by Tony Blair in 1995) was telling fellow peers that if he didn't get his way (i.e. succeed in getting human embryo cloning legalised) he'd be off to the States full–time. Upon investigation it became clear that Lord Winston held a number of patents for the genetic modification of germ cells. This type of genetic engineering is carried out upon sperm or egg cells, or upon the cells which give rise to sperm or egg cells. Modifications of this type don't just affect the individual conceived, but affect or better determine the genetic endowment of all the individuals produced in the future as descendants of the original modified individual. Such germline genetic engineering is considered by most people to be dangerous and unethical, but Winston is always at the cutting edge. In fact, the extended regulations laid before Parliament will allow a form of germ–line engineering by means of cell nuclear replacement in cases where the mother has defective mitochondria in her cytoplasm. Perhaps Lord Winston was hoping that this thin end of the wedge of germline genetic engineering might later lead to a more expansive liberalisation, which would increase the domestic market value of the patents he holds.

Another of Lord Winston's research interests is the maturation outside the body of ovarian tissue to produce 'human eggs' for IVF treatments. Ordinarily Lord Winston takes this tissue from the body of the individual woman he proposes to treat.

If this research proves to be successful it could overcome the key bottleneck in the human cloning process—the shortage of human eggs. What a valuable process that would be financially.

There is, of course, another potential source of ovarian tissue for the maturation of 'eggs' and that is to be found in the remains of aborted baby girls. Co–incidentally a contract (for the provision of such material) exists between the Marie–Stopes Clinic in Ealing and Imperial College, where Winston does some of his research. We know that Lord Winston publicly distances himself from such sources of tissue, but it may be an avenue of research that his colleagues will be tempted to open up.

Despite having so many patents and so many research interests, Lord Winston is one of the few peers who makes no declaration of interests in the Register of Members' Interests.

Meanwhile, Lord Winston had allegedly added to his repertoire of secondary power tactics a line in pure primary physical aggression. As he was being interviewed by a foreign TV crew, he allegedly claimed that embryonic stem cells are far safer than those derived from adult tissues. A young female barrister interjected to contradict the noble Lord. At this point Winston, again allegedly, put his hand over the young woman's mouth and pushed her away while telling her to shut up because he was the scientist. The incident was reported to the police in London, and we await developments.

One of Winston's close pals in Parliament is Leslie Turnberg, ennobled last year by Tony Blair and who now sits on the Labour benches. He told their Lordships that he is scientific advisor to the Association of Medical Research Charities. What he didn't mention is that he is also chairman of the UK forum on Genetics and Insurance. The Insurance industry is, of course, deeply interested in working out how to use genetics to detect whether someone is a good insurance bet or not. The link between the two professions was underlined when two years ago the Chairman of the Human Genetics Advisory Commission, Sir Colin Campbell, resigned to take up a lucrative post in the insurance industry.

In his post as advisor to the Association of Medical Research Charities Turnberg distributed to peers lists of more than 120 charities which were said to be backing the use of human embryos for cloning. Among those surprised to know that they had been used in this way were the British Homeopathic Trust, Tommy's Campaign, and the Lister Institute of Preventative Medicine. Members of the Parkinson's Disease Society resigned in protest stating that they had never been consulted and that the lie had been put about that there were no alternatives to the use of embryonic stem cells.

As Turnberg will know if he reads the 22 January edition of The Scientist, the latest research from America shows that in many animal experiments using embryonic stem cells, tumours have developed, but the same is not true for the non–controversial adult stem cells. Will the Scientific Advisor be advising the charities accordingly? Will they be able to sue him for duff advice?

But the really big winner in the biotech boom has been Dr. Chris Evans. For the past two years he has been one of Labour's big donors—and is involved in the 100 million “genome campus” in Cambridgeshire. Blair recently gave the campus, christened the biotech hub of Europe, his personal support. He and Evans say the European biotech market will be worth 70 billion by 2005. Evans is said to call on Blair regularly, giving him advice on the biotech–boom, and is likely to end up as one of the country's richest men.

While Blair has been able to make time for Evans and to speak to the Biotech industry he could find no time in his diary to meet religious leaders who asked on four successive occasions if they could come and see him to explain their moral objections to cloning.

Evans is a director of several biotic companies, including Cerebrus. When Margaret Becket opened their offices she said, “This is the sort of business that I want to encourage.” Its Chairman, Dr. George Poste, who is also a director of Smithkline Beecham, was one of the four advisors chosen by the two public bodies, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, and the Human Genetics Advisory Commission, to advise on cloning embryos. They were the first to give it the green light.

In 1996 Evans backed a Company called ReNeuron—set up by three scientists at King's College. He invested 5 million. ReNeuron says it is the only UK company developing an innovative cell transplantation technology with the potential to treat brain disorders—such as Parkinson's. They have been using brain cells from aborted human beings in their work.

Another of Tony Blair's cronies is Sir Ronald Cohen, dubbed the Man with The Midas Touch. He gave Labour 100,000 in 1997 and got his knighthood in 2000. Cohen is into the venture capital business. Among the companies which he has invested in are the biotech company, PPL Therapeutics—responsible for Dolly the Sheep. PPL holds some of the cloning patents on the work developed at Roslin, which brings us almost full circle, as Roslin is in a business deal with one of the biggest players in the biotech world, Geron Bio–Med. They pumped 12 million into Roslin and hosted the meeting at Labour's Conference at which Science Minister Lord Sainsbury made his famous declaration in favour of embryo cloning. Sainsbury was then the Minister in charge of the consultation looking at the ethics of cloning. He was a man waiting for his mind to be made up.

The day after the House of Lords vote Geron's share price rocketed by 7%.

So, the formula is clear. Donate to the Labour party, after making some money in medicine or bio–technology, wait to be ennobled or knighted and then influence future legislation directly (in the case of Lords) or indirectly (in the case of knights) to facilitate the making of more money. A veritable virtuous circle of preferment, which jeopardises our democracy.

Power in all forms is being used to corrode our system of democratic government; to destroy the objectivity of our scientific and establishment elites, and to usher in a nightmare world as dark as any in The Matrix envisioned by the most creative writers of science fiction. The truth about the culture of death is both stranger and darker than any fictional representation of it. Only a superhuman effort by the prolife movement will prevent the acceleration of this process of deterioration. We have been warned!

References:

1  Campbell, K and Wilmut, I, The Second Creation, Hodder Headline, 2000. [ Back]

2  Time magazine, 20 February 2001. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,98940,00.html[  Back]

3  The Times, 20 February 2001. http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/0,,340-87544,00.html[  Back]

4  Wired magazine, pp122-135, February 2001. [ Back]

5  The Lancet, Vol 357, 3 February 2001, pp329-330. [ Back]