By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
As expected, Stanford‘s announcement sparked a firestorm. All of the top papers and top news shows reported the story, but not one bothered to explain the tie-in between the stem cells and cancer. Instead the words human cloning got heavy play. The Associated Press was the first to cover the story, and its article began: ”Stanford has said its new cancer institute will conduct stem-cell research using nuclear-transfer techniques -- work that many consider to be cloning of human cells.“ ABC News followed suit: ”The president believes that the creation and destruction of embryos for the purpose of research or reproduction is morally wrong. He is against cloning of any kind and feels there are other biomedical-research avenues.“
Leon Kass immediately issued a press release claiming that ”Stanford has decided to proceed with cloning research without public scrutiny and deliberation,“ and went on to say that the president’s bioethics council does not endorse the Stanford institute, and then noted the council wanted a four-year moratorium on so-called therapeutic cloning. Oddly, the council never recommended a moratorium (which Brownback has recently been calling for and which stem-cell researchers across the board consider a terrible idea), and Kass issued his statement without bothering to consult the rest of the council.
Not that any of this behavior is all that surprising. This is just a little lying in the face of a bigger war -- a war that is far from over. The cloning debate rages on at all levels of government, refueled by the recent Raelian announcement that they had created the world‘s first human clone. Never mind that, just prior to that announcement, the Bush administration blocked a worldwide U.N. ban on reproductive cloning that might have stopped the Raelians in their supposed work. The ban was vetoed because it did not also include therapeutic cloning and was insufficient for the religious right.
So the opposition continues twisting terminology. Scientists like Larry Goldstein and the folks sitting around Weissman’s dinner table are painted as cold-blooded and immoral. The government is actively clouding the issues, and the media has done little to engender understanding. Meanwhile, a middle-of-the-road estimate of how many Americans will die from diseases that stem-cell research might soon cure is 130 million.
Back at the stove, Weissman pokes and prods and eventually nods his head sagaciously: ”That goose is cooked.“
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