BMJ's Fake Science and Scary Ethics of Cloning

Dianne N. Irving
copyright August 24, 2004
Reproduced with Permission

British Medical Journal Rapid Response to "Book Review: A Clone of Your Own? The Science and Ethics of Cloning", by Trefor Jenkins [BMJ 2004;329:466 (21 August), doi:10.1136/bmj.329.7463.466]

Trefor Jenkins' "review" of the "science" and "ethics" of human cloning comes across as slightly naive. Might he have any conflicts of interests? One would think that a truly proper and full "review" would take into account the decades of intentional fabrication by "scientists" of the human embryology and related sciences in this issue since the famous Warnoch Report's use of the term "pre-embryo" - a term acknowledged by the Warnoch Committee itself as "arbitrary", and a term now formally rejected by the international nomenclature committee as "ill defined", "inaccurate", "unjustified", "equivocal", and "introduced in 1986 largely for public policy reasons" [O'Rahilly and Muller, Human Embryology & Teratology (New York: Wiley-Liss, 2001), p. 88].

Since then Great Britain (and other countries) has built on this scientific deception to include the current laws and regulations on IVF, human cloning, and human stem cell research -- which is to say they too are all built on a house of cards. Whether the fake scientific terms used are "pre-embryo", "therapeutic cloning", "nuclear transplantation", or "stem cell research", etc., these and other such terms are simply fabricated pseudo-scientific mechanisms to fool the public and to allow researchers to do whatever they want to do - including the intentional production and killing of living innocent human beings. Yes, that's correct - the objective scientific fact is that the immediate product of both sexual and asexual human reproduction is a new single-cell living human ORGANISM (not just a "cell"). Every single one of us began to exist as a single-cell ORGANISM. Nor is the 5-7 day human blastocyst just "a ball of cells"; it too is a living developing human ORGANISM. If Mr. Jenkins - or the government - won't tell the public the whole truth about cloning, then the public should go to the libraries and look up these objective scientific facts themselves in current human embryology textbooks.

Mr. Jenkins also fails to note in his "ethics" review of cloning that there are dozens of "ethics" out there besides "religious" ones that are available to be selectively used and abused to "justify" this inherently unethical research - including preference utilitarian "bioethics" which has been used as the "ethical" foundation for justifying much unethical research since its formal "birth" in 1978. This "ethics" considers ONLY the ends or goals desired, and ignores the MEANS used to reach them. That's scary. Also, only "the greater good" (however variously and arbitrarily that is defined) is considered "ethically" relevant - necessarily leaving out of consideration any and all minority "goods". Given that "bioethics", like all ethical theories, defines itself as "normative" (takes a stand on what is right or wrong), then how can any democratic, multicultural, pluralistic government justify forcing this "bioethics" that condones all human cloning on all of its citizens through laws and regulations?

And it is precisely this "ethics" that makes a false distinction between a "human being" and a "human person". If a "person" is only defined by the active exercising of "rational attributes" and/or "sentience", then the following list of human beings are not human persons - and thus can also be "mined" for their body parts and used in destructive experimental research "for the greater good": Alzheimer's and Parkinson's patients, the mentally ill and retarded, alcoholics, drug addicts, the frail elderly, the comatose, all mentally and physically handicapped, perhaps even Mr. Jenkins when he is sleeping.

As a former bench researcher (NIH) I find the depth and degree of corruption now pervading the research and pharmaceutical agendas appalling. The ultimate question that people must ask is, if the scientists and pharmaceutical companies are so willing to blatantly lie to them for so long about THIS issue, why wouldn't they be just as willing to lie to them about the science in ANY issue - as long as it can be "ethically justified" by Bioethics for some "greater good" -- like money?

Competing interests: None declared

BMJ 2004;329:466 (21 August), doi:10.1136/bmj.329.7463.466

by Trefor Jenkins

Book Review: A Clone of Your Own? The Science and Ethics of Cloning

When I reviewed Klotzko's earlier book, The Cloning Sourcebook ( BMJ 2001;323: 1313) [Free Full Text], I suggested that an informed public should decide whether cloning should be introduced - not the enthusiastic scientists involved in the research. This much smaller volume attempts to inform, and in my opinion it succeeds admirably.

Klotzko seems to have met many of the influential authorities in the field. In mid-1996 she discussed cloning with Ian Wilmot at the Roslin Institute, a month or so after Dolly the cloned sheep had been born. It took another seven months before the achievement was widely reported. The scientist did not reveal his secret to Klotzko. However, she claims, "Ian gave me my first cloning lesson. He drew diagrams and explained the cloning process. Considering the secret he was keeping, there was nothing especially memorable about our talk except what he told me as I was leaving. In a quiet and very earnest manner he said `Our work here will revolutionise biotechnology.'"

The book is critical of US politicians but praises the way the British government has acted to foster embryonic stem cell research. Hosted by none other than Baroness Warnock, Klotzko was present in the House of Lords in January 2001 "when the UK became the first country to bring therapeutic cloning under a regulatory umbrella."

The Americans have made therapeutic cloning virtually impossible by prohibiting the production of early embryos for the harvesting of embryonic stem cells - or of the use of surplus embryos from in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment programmes - unless the stem cell lines had been derived before President Bush's August 2001 edict. This edict has virtually halted such research in the public sector. Sadly, American academic science is prevented from contributing to the advances in therapeutic cloning research because of the president's strong religious beliefs - encouraged, no doubt, by the views of Leon Kass, the chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics. Dr Kass believes that even therapeutic cloning "will lead to the commodification and consequent devaluation of human beings." He said the same thing about IVF nearly 30 years ago; who will claim that this has in fact happened?

Klotzko argues that human reproductive cloning must remain banned until animal cloning is more successful. Apart from the high proportion of miscarriages, stillbirths, and early deaths, blood vessels of many cloned animals have been found to be much larger than normal, and the animals also have hypoplastic kidneys and undifferentiated liver cells incapable of normal function. These results preclude any attempt at reproductive cloning of humans for the foreseeable future.

The reasons why people might want to clone a human being are many, but because of the power of fictional works, particularly films, the public equates cloning of humans with mad or perverted scientists like Dr Mengele in The Boys from Brazil. Klotzko writes, "In film, the dream of cloning is almost always a nightmare." We are reminded that Frankenstein is the paradigm, "creating life, violating the natural order, and unleashing forces beyond his or our control." In Huxley's Brave New World cloning is the prelude to an upbringing designed to condition people to behave as automatons.

There is a great need for books like Klotzko's if the public (including doctors and other healthcare workers) is to be educated on therapeutic as well as reproductive cloning. A great deal still needs to be done on both sides of the Atlantic if research into reproductive cloning in animals is to flourish and - who knows - can reach a stage of safety that would make the technique available to human beings, after the public has decided that it is an ethically acceptable procedure.

Trefor Jenkins, professor emeritus
Division of Human Genetics, National Health Laboratory Service and University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

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