"Any Human Cell - iPS, Direct Programmed, Embryonic, Fetal or Adult - Can Be Genetically Engineered to Asexually Reproduce New Human Embryos for Purposes of Reproduction ('Infertility')"

A. "Rogue Scientists"

** Dr. Richard Seed, a nuclear physicist, is best known for forcing a national debate on human cloning in the late 1990s. On December 5, 1997 Dr. Seed announced that he planned to clone a human being before any federal laws could be enacted to ban the process. Seed's plans were to use the same technique used by the Scottish team that reproduced the sheep Dolly by using nuclear transfer. Seed first said that he was going to make little baby clones for infertile couples. Later, "to defuse criticism that I'm taking advantage of desperate women", he announced that he would first clone himself. Still later he announced that he would re-create his wife Gloria. "God made man in his own image," he told National Public Radio correspondent Joe Palca in December 1997. "God intended for man to become one with God. Cloning, is the first serious step in becoming one with God." In a later interview on CNN, Seed elaborated: "Man," he said, "will develop the technology and the science and the capability to have an indefinite life span" [immortality].64

** Dr. Brigitte Boisselier, Ph.D., is a biochemist and former Visiting Professor of Chemistry at Hamilton College, Clinton, New York. She is also the Scientific Director of Clonaid, Inc. in the Bahamas, as well as a Raëlian bishop in Geneva, Switzerland and in Quebec, Canada. Clonaid is a human cloning company founded in 1997. It has philosophical ties with the Raelian sect, which sees cloning as the first step in achieving immortality. On June 9, 1997, Clonaid stated its intention to offer homosexual and/or infertile couples the chance to have a genetically identical child and to become a step closer towards the goal of achieving eternal life. On December 27, 2002, Clonaid's chief executive, Brigitte Boisselier, claimed that a baby clone, named Eve, was born. It was later determined that the Clonaid project was a sham. Boisselier claimed, however, that Clonaid had a list of couples who were ready to have a cloned child, and that 20 more implantations of human clones were on the way after the first 10 which happened in the previous year. In February 2004, Clonaid claimed that a sixth clone baby was born in Australia.[31] Additionally, it claimed to have produced human embryos in South Korea. The small number of companies that have access to cloning technology have faced skepticism by cloning experts in Korea, who accused Clonaid of defaming the now debunked stem cell work of Dr. Hwang Woo-suk.65

** Dr. Panos (Panayiotis) Zavos, Ph.D., is an American andrologist and reproductive biologist. He is well known for his work at the Andrology Institute and as a former Professor in the Department of Animal Sciences, the University of Kentucky in Lexington. Dr. Zavos is also a Member of the International Advisory Committee of the Middle East Fertility Society, and is a past Board Member of the China Academy of Science, and is a serious authority in the areas of male reproductive medicine. In 2002 Zavos declared the year as "the year of human clones". 2003 - On 20 May 2003, he announced the creation of a cloned human embryo. According to news reports, on 17 January 2004, from London, he announced the creation and transfer of a cloned embryo. During the announcement, Zavos presented the first evidence of the creation and transfer of a human cloned embryo for reproductive purposes. Even though no pregnancy was established, he said, human reproduction by means of SCNT is possible and applicable in the future for patients with severe male or female infertility that have no other alternative options for procreating their own offspring. On 04 February 2004 it became evident that the attempt had not worked and the woman did not become pregnant. A spokeswoman for the doctor said: "Prof Zavos and his team are dedicated and will continue their efforts in producing more cloned human embryos for reproductive purposes". In April 2009, he claimed to have cloned 14 human embryos and transferred 11 of those to wombs. One cloned embryo was grown from skin cells taken from the woman's husband and the implantation was filmed, the doctor said.66

** Dr. Severino Antinori, M. D., ObGyn, is an Italian gynecologist, infertility pioneer, and Director of the International Associated Research Institute, Rome, Italy. In 1994, he assisted Rosana Della Cortes, aged 63, in becoming pregnant. She became one of the oldest women in history to give birth. Working with Dr. Panayiotis Zavos he argued in favor of cloning as an opportunity for infertile couples who cannot use other methods. Genetic material from the father would be injected into an egg, which would then be implanted into the woman's womb to grow. In theory, the resulting child would have exactly the same physical characteristics as the father. In November 2002, Antinori announced that he had successfully used cloning to induce pregnancy in three women, with the birth of the first child expected in January 2003. He refused to give the identities of the women or details of where they lived, and mainstream scientists and doctors expressed skepticism about his claims.67

Obviously no laws, regulations or "guidelines" prevented such "rogue" researchers from at least trying to perform these experiments. They just used private funds. And while it is understandable why the GRG decided to distance themselves from such "rogue researchers", it is not understandable why the GRG has persisted in deconstructing the long-known science of human embryology in its own pursuit of immortality.

B. "Rogue Science"?

** For example in 2001, amid all the political and legal wrangling, and reports of "rogue" scientists cloning human beings, the Gerontology Research Group (GRG), based in California, and led by Dr. Stephen Coles, published their own editorial, "Let's defuse the rhetoric by sharpening our vocabulary",68 that essentially deconstructed the long-known and accurate human embryology. In this editorial, the GRG claims that:

As ordinary English has proven itself to be inadequate to facilitate the Congressional debates that will soon be under way in the U.S. Senate, the GRG would like to recommend the following terminology whenever speaking about the distinction between Human Therapeutic Cloning and Reproductive Cloning, as follows.69

So the GRG is going to "update" and "simplify" the scientific details of what is involved in human cloning and human stem cell research by "using ordinary English" - otherwise referred to as "writing it in crayon" - so that those non-scientists involved in the political, legislative and regulatory debates can better "understand". The GRG proposal does so by brazenly re-writing and re-defining the science of human embryology:

1. A preembryo shall hence forth be defined as a pre-implantation zygote, during the first approximately 10 days following conception, i.e., the fertilization of an ovum (a haploid female gamete) by a sperm (a haploid male gamete).70

It is difficult to imagine what biology textbook the GRG was using, but it certainly wasn't a human embryology textbook. There is no such thing as a "pre-embryo", and the term was formally rejected by the international nomenclature on human embryology as scientifically inaccurate and misleading. Further, the "ovum" that is fertilized is not haploid but rather is diploid. That is, an oocyte remains diploid until and unless it is fertilized; only after fertilization are the extra "23" chromosomes ejected from the embryo, leaving only "23" female chromosomes plus the "23" male chromosomes. Nor is the "zygote" (Carnegie Stage One (c)) when a new human embryo begins to exist during fertilization, but rather the new embryo begins to exist at the beginning of fertilization, at Carnegie Stage One (a), followed by the developing human embryo at Carnegie Stage One (b). But the GRG continues:

A zygote contains a full [2n] complement of chromosomes [22x2 + XY or XX = 46] in every cell; in particular, a preembryo will normally develop by successive mitotic divisions starting with a single diploid cell into a multicellular blastocyst first by forming a morphological ball and later by invagination, that will subsequently contain several hundreds if not thousands of cells (including a large number of undifferentiated pleuripotent embryonic stem cells that are fated to form the tissues of the fetus).71

Wrong again. Notice that nowhere is the term "embryo" used here, even in referring to the "zygote". The only thing there, according to the GRG, is "cells", stem cells to be exact, including those in the "blastocyst' [which really is already a embryo]. Also, the GRG should have known that the cells in the inner cell mass of the blastocyst are a mixture of totipotent and pluripotent "stem cells" (as recently documented yet again in some of the scientific studies just included above, and as already known for many decades as documented in human embryology textbooks). Two-thirds of natural monozygotic (identical) twins and triplets are asexually reproduced by totipotent cells contained in the blastocyst. Further, although it is true that most of these "stem cells" are fated to form the tissues of the later fetus, not all of them are (as some interchange of cells from the inner and outer cell layers of the blastocyst takes place). It is clear that the GRG wants people to conclude from these "redefinitions" that research using these "stem cells" from the blastocyst (which is now just a ball of cells) is simply doing "stem cell research"! No embryo there that is destroyed; just a bunch of "cells". But to continue:

2. The term embryo shall be reserved exclusively for a post-implantation preembryo, that has begun the process of implantation (formation of a placenta within the wall of the womb) accompanied by differentiation into three fundamentally different types of tissues (endoderm, mesoderm, and ectoderm), with neural streak formation, and the beginnings of organogenesis (formation of a spinal cord).72

Here the GRG is reserving the term "embryo" not just for the embryo that has started to implant (5-7 days post-fertilization), but also until it has developed a primitive streak, which doesn't happen until about a week after implantation begins. This would thus allow "research" on "pre-embryos" (and the women involved!) already implanted into women's wombs for up to a week after implantation. But to continue:

3. The term fetus shall be reserved for a prenatal post-organogenesis embryo that has developed mature limbs (with visible digits [fingers and toes]), a beating heart, and other distinguishable features of a human face (eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and so forth).73

The term "fetus" shall be reserved for an "embryo"? That isn't even grammatically correct English. Nor is it clear what the "so forth" refers to here. This definition of "fetus" is rather scientifically vague. To be more scientifically accurate, it has long been accepted in human embryology that the "embryonic period" includes the developing human from the beginning of fertilization through 8 weeks of development. And according to O'Rahilly and Muller, "It has been estimated that more than 90% of the more than 4500 named structures of the adult body become apparent during the embryonic period". This would seem to pre-empt the GRG's "scientific" criteria for the term "fetus" (which is somehow redefined as really an embryo). The "fetal period" begins about 9 weeks of development and continues until birth. But to continue:

4. The term baby (or if you prefer: neonate) shall be reserved for a post-fetus that has been delivered either vaginally or by C-Section and whose umbilical cord has been or will soon be severed from its placenta.74

So don't use the term "baby" when referring to any unborn child - in vivo or in vitro. Only a "post-fetus" can be called a "baby". And only then if its umbilical cord "has been or will soon be severed from its placenta." One wonders how the GRG defines "soon". But the next long deconstruction is reserved for the term "person" - which, of course, is not a scientific term:

5. The term person shall be reserved for an embryo whose fate has been unambiguously determined to be a single individual (by ultrasound or other visual means for examination).75

So, let's get this straight. an "embryo" - as the GRG defines the term - is a "person". But a "fetus" is not a "person"? Nor even a "post-fetus"? And their reference to "a single individual" sounds interestingly similar to the McCormick/Grobstein "individuality" claim used to ground their scientific myth of the "pre-embryo".

The GRG continues its deep concern with the use of the term "person":

The purpose of this terminology is to obviate the absurd, emotionally-charged religious debates that arise from statements of the form: "People begin at conception." (sic), which is obvious nonsense (completely inconsistent with the facts of biology). One might just as well say that "People begin with eggs or sperm" or "People begin with a 'twinkle in the eye of a man' who detects a nubile woman crossing his path." At what arbitrary point should we wish to punish persons for being disrespectful to (sentient) human persons? Although we cannot be sure of the precise point, it seems to make the most sense, on conservative grounds, to consider that, since preembryos can never be persons by the definitions above, we can never penalize someone for "killing" a preembryo on moral grounds. In the same sense that one cannot be charged with the crime of "killing" a dead person, one cannot be charged with the crime of deconstructing or a "killing" a preembryo. Linguistically speaking, the object of the verb kill is required to be either a person or a living animal for the word to even make sense in English. Just as one does not normally speak of killing a plant or a microorganism, except metaphorically, one cannot speak about "killing" a cluster of undifferentiated cells that are not yet a person.76

So, the GRG has no patience with "emotionally-charged religious debates" that refer to unborn human beings as "people". That is "obvious nonsense" and "completely inconsistent with the facts of biology". But hasn't the GRG, a group of scientists, just proffered their own definition of "person", using absurd "scientific" definitions that no decent academically credentialed human embryologist in the world would agree with? At least most "religious" debates include the long established accurate scientific facts of human embryology as their "starting point" for referring to unborn human beings as "persons". But why the GRG's obvious angst? Well apparently, given their definitions, no one can be charged with the crime of killing a "preembryo" - it's just a matter of "good English" and "common sense"! According to their definitions, it would simply be equivalent to "killing a cluster of undifferentiated cells".

The GRG editor notes at the end of this paradigm of scientific deconstruction that the "distinctions" just elaborated "may appear to be 'preaching to the choir'", but reminds his group that "these issues will arise in the Congressional debates that are now scheduled for the beginning of 2002."77 But as presumed "scientific experts" in human embryology, they will serve those in the upcoming Congressional debates not only bad English but erroneous scientific myths as well. Should public policy be grounded in such nonsense? Of course, the GRG is hardly the only groups of scientific researchers who have sought to confuse and influence people by rearranging the science of human embryology like so much furniture in a room, "updating" it, rendering it in "plain English", etc.

** The (false) distinction between "therapeutic" and "reproductive" cloning alluded to above in the GRG proposal for "redefining" the scientific terms involved in stem cell research was particularly championed by Irving Weissman, a physician and professor of developmental biology at Stanford University Medical School, Director of the Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, a consultant for Stem Cells, Inc., and a strong proponent of the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM).78

According to Weissman et al, "therapeutic cloning" involves the use of nuclear transfer to create new stem cell lines for research and therapy. It is simply "stem cell research". Period. Weissman redefines "reproductive cloning" - the main subject of this article -- to mean the practice of creating or attempting to create a human being by transferring the nucleus from a human cell into an egg cell from which the nucleus has been removed for the purpose of implanting the resulting product in a uterus to initiate a pregnancy.79 Thus the "intention" or "purpose" of the researcher determines if it can be done - regardless if any living human embryos are destroyed in the process.

Weissman, architect and promoter of the contentious California Stem Cell Research Initiative (among other things), claims in his Stanford Report:

"In normal development, the fertilized egg undergoes 7-9 cell divisions to make the blastocyst, a ball of cells that has minimal specialization. ... For many the blastocyst is a ball of cells like many other cell lines from other tissues, and it would be a violation of their medical oaths not to use these cells to gain valuable medical knowledge that could translate to therapies."80 (emphases added)

Again, for Weissman, even in normal sexual human reproduction there is no organism reproduced at fertilization, just "cells", similar, he says, to "cells" in many other "cell lines". The human organism has disappeared. Weissman does indeed make a weak attempt to preempt any criticisms from human embryologists about his verbal deconstruction of human embryology, but in the process belies his own defense:

"Technically, one should not use the term embryo to describe a blastocyst produced by nuclear transfer as an embryo, because it was not the product of sperm and egg, although I think that since the embryologists who coined the term embryo could not have known about nuclear transfer technology, it's anyone's guess what they might say now. ... I would hope we could discover ways to process ovaries as byproducts of human tissues from surgeries so that the tens of thousands of pre-oocytes could be made into useful targets of nuclear transplantation."81 (emphases added)

Thus "technically", according to Weissman, the term "embryo" should only refer to the product of sexual human reproduction involving a sperm and an oocyte, but not to the product of asexual human reproduction (e.g., in cloning). I suppose he's never heard of natural identical "twinning" in vivo. Indeed, according to Weissman there is no full-fledged human being present until after implantation and birth; before that it is just a "ball of cells", and tissues composed of "cells".

Clearly, real human embryologists - with Ph.D. degrees in human embryology - would see no biological difference in the human organisms produced either sexually or asexually by cloning. They are both new living human beings - not just "cells". Why else would they now want to implant them into women for reproductive purposes? And surely human embryologists and human molecular geneticists would heartily disagree with Weissman that these human beings are "minimally specialized". That has also been refuted by most of the research identified at the beginning of this article. And what Weissman means by a "pre-oocytes" is, frankly, anyone's guess.

Note, too, the following excerpts from the California Cloning Report shepherded through the California legislature by Weissman:

"We define non-reproductive human cloning as the transfer of human cell nuclei into enucleated oocytes to produce human pre-embryos without implanting the preembryos to produce a human child. Such a process would likely be used to create early pre-embryos to be used as sources of embryonic stem cells. As set out below, we would limit the use of such pre-embryos to the period before the appearance in the pre-embryo of the so-called primitive streak, which occurs 14 to 18 days after the pre-embryo's creation. This developmental stage has also been termed the blastocyst or pre-embryo. ... Various committees, in the United States and elsewhere, that have studied embryo research have concluded that the appearance of the primitive streak marks an important step in the moral status of the pre-embryo, and hence, the ethical arguments concerning pre-embryo research. ... Before the appearance of the primitive streak, the pre-embryo is not necessarily one individual --- it could lead to identical twins".82 (emphases added)

Such is just the tip of the iceberg of the grim legacy of Jesuit theologian Richard McCormick and frog embryologist Clifford Grobstein. "Pre-embryos" are just balls of "stem cells" - with a "reduced moral status". After all, "pre-embryo" means "before the embryo" - and before the embryo, who is already a human being, there are just cells.

Weissman engineered the very same myth as chairman of two National Academy of Sciences' reports on cloning and on stem cell research, as well as "teaching" these myths to policy makers on human cloning at the United Nations. It was also the basis of California Proposition 71, which ushered in the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM).83 Weissman was also among the scientists who presented this same "science" to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences 2003 Conference on the "400th Anniversary of the Foundation of the Pontifical Academy of Science" at the Vatican - along with Dr. Robert J. White (brain transfers), and Drs. Ronald McKay, Rudolf Jaenisch, and Ann McLaren (who introduced the McCormick/Grobstein false term "pre-embryo" to the British Warnock Commission in 1985) - all of whom used the same "science".84 No other scientists "con" this research were presenters, and certainly no human embryologists presented.

** Similarly, Michael West, of Advanced Cell Technologies, testified before Congress as an "expert" that even in normal sexual human reproduction there is no organism reproduced, just "cells":

"The fertilization of the egg cell by a sperm leads to a single cell called the "zygote". From this first cell, multiple rounds of cell division over the first week result in a microscopic ball of cells with very unusual properties. This early embryo, called the "preimplantation embryo", has not implanted in the uterus to begin a pregnancy... Should the embryo implant in the uterus, the embryo, at approximately 14 days post fertilization will form what is called the primitive streak, this is the first definition that these "seed cells will form an individual human being. ..."85 (emphases added)

Here West fails to mention that the "zygote" is not just a single "cell"; it is a single-cell organism, or that the "zygote" is not even when the new human embryo begins to exist. And, like Weissman, West defines the "human embryo" here as just a "microscopic ball of cells", rather than as a whole human organism, a human being. Then he teaches Congress that "seed cells will form. ... "There is no human embryology textbook in the world that refers to the totipotent/pluripotent cells of the human blastocyst as "seeds" or as "seed cells". And these "seed cells" will form an "individual human being"? It already is a human being. Sounds curiously like the old McCormick/Grobstein "pre-embryo" argument again, although draped in different "language".

** Although she is a reproductive biologist, Ann Kiessling wrote a long law article in the Connecticut Law Review in which she also argues for a change in the scientific terminology used involving human embryo research and stem cell research. In her article, "What is an Embryo?",86 Kiessling summarizes the efforts of various commissions and panels over the last several decades to come to grips with the correct scientific terminology that more accurately defines what an "embryo" is.

Kiessling, herself not a human embryologist, concludes with an astoundingly confused understanding of what a human "egg" is, as distinct from a "cleaving egg". In the real world an "egg" is just a cell; a "cleaving egg", however, is a fertilized oocyte that is now an embryo, a human organism. However, Kiessling doesn't see it that way:

The clear limit imposed on human reproduction is the human egg. Few in number, powerful in nature, the human egg is at the heart of the controversy surrounding human embryo research, human cloning, and the derivation of human embryonic stem cells for therapeutic purposes. ... Unfortunately, scientists did not jump into the debate with the clear message that cleaving eggs are not embryos, not yet.87 (emphases added)

Is Kiessling claiming that scientists should tell everyone that when a sperm is allowed to penetrate an "egg" in vitro that the result is not an embryo? How absurd. And why does Kiessling claim that the only limit that should be imposed on human reproduction is the human egg? What about the many deaths of real living embryonic human beings disposed of in the process of performing such IVF research - in their research laboratories as well as in the "infertility" clinics? What about the effects of hyper-hormone stimulation of women in order to produce these eggs? What about the possible physical side effects when abnormal experimental human embryos - or "cleaving eggs" -- are implanted into them? What about the inability to give legally valid "informed consent" when women are "informed" by these "professionals" that what is being implanted into them is not really an "embryo" but just a "cleaving egg" (or just a "ball of cells", or just a "pre-embryo", etc.?

** This ruse has been going on for decades now. Just recently a Spanish reproductive researcher, Beriain I. de Miguel, has called for "new language" for human stem cell research and human reproductive cloning. In his article "The human embryo after Dolly: New practices for new times, de Miguel states:

The possibility of cloning human beings introduced a lot of issues in our ethical and legal frameworks. In this paper, we will put the focus into the necessary changes in the concept of embryo that our legal systems will have to implement in order to face the new situation. The description of the embryo as a group of cells able to develop into a human being will be defended here as the best way of doing so.88

** In 2003 there was even a massive conference sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Commerce that also aimed at redefining such critical terms, and in essence achieve this by means of "consensus", rather than by the standard requirements of the scientific method. This interdisciplinary conference was called, "Converging Technologies for Improving Human Performance: Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, Information Technology and Cognitive Science" - Nana/Bio/Info/Cogno, for short. That it was going to be necessary to redefine and change the relevant scientific definitions was made clear throughout the conference. For example:

A new technical language will need to be developed for communicating the unprecedented scientific and engineering challenges based in the mathematics of complex systems, the physics of structures at the nanoscale, and the hierarchical logic of intelligence.89... We must find ways to rearrange and connect scientific findings so that scientists from a wider range of fields can comprehend and apply them within their own work. It will therefore be necessary to support fundamental scientific research in each field that can become the foundation of a bridge to other fields, as well as support fundamental research at the intersections of fields.90

These efforts towards a "net technical language" applies to human embryology as well:

In the gestation of higher animals, a single fertilized egg cell differentiates rapidly into specialized cells that grow into very different organs of the body, controlled in a complex manner by the messenger chemicals produced by the cells themselves. Whether based in nanotechnology, information technology, biotechnology, or cognitive based technology, new adaptive production systems could be developed that automatically adjust design features in a way analogous to the growing embryo, without the need to halt production or retool. Convergence of these four technologies could also develop many bio-inspired processes for "growing" key components of industrial products, rather than wastefully machining them out of larger materials or laboriously assembling them from smaller parts (cf. National Research Council 1999)91

But the rewards, of course, will be great:

If we make the correct decisions and investments today, any of these visions could be achieved within 20 years' time. Moving forward simultaneously along many of these paths could achieve a golden age that would be a turning point for human productivity and quality of life. Technological convergence could become the framework for human convergence (Ostrum et al. 2002). The twenty-first century could end in world peace, universal prosperity, and evolution to a higher level of compassion and accomplishment. It is hard to find the right metaphor to see a century into the future, but it may be that humanity would become like a single, distributed and interconnected "brain" based in new core pathways of society.92 (emphases added)

Sounds like we'll all become part of one massive Gnostic Cosmic Brain, right? Yet, with all the enthusiasm, Nano/Bio/Info/Cogno does anticipate some reticence:

In some areas of human life, old customs and ethics will persist, but it is difficult to predict which realms of action and experience these will be. Perhaps wholly new ethical principles will govern [as in "bioethics"?]] in areas of radical technological advance, such as the acceptance of brain implants, the role of robots in human society, and the ambiguity of death in an era of increasing experimentation with cloning.93

** A final example, among many others, of the use of erroneous "science" of human embryology out there currently involves "Islamic embryology".94 In the various books and other efforts since the mid-1980's, a similar effort has been made to reduce the early human embryo to just "cells". For example, in Islamic embryology the product of fertilization is just a "cell"; there is no "embryo there until implantation, and indeed even the implanting "embryo" is also defined as just "cells". It is not until the fetus is formed that there is a human being present. Instead of the 23 Carnegie Stages, they wish to substitute their own 3 Stages "in the womb".

Hopefully, such "science" is not what the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee, addressed at the beginning of this article, intends to use when they stated in their recent document that, "The terminology used in the bioethical debates is misleading and does not adequately describe the technical procedures used (or potentially to be used) today. An in-depth analysis aiming at re-defining this terminology according to the new developments in human embryo research would be highly beneficial"?95 Or will they refer to the long-documented accurate scientific facts of human embryology as documented and updated since 1942 in the Carnegie Stages of Early Human Embryonic Development? The world will be watching.

Next Page: IV. The Real Science
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