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CLONING AND THE ETHICS OF
ACCELERATED EVOLUTION

By PAUL RECER


The Scottish scientist who cloned an adult sheep told Congress Wednesday ``it would be quite inhumane'' to try the technology on people. A senator told him and a rapt hearing audience that human cloning is sure to come ``and I don't fear it at all.''

It is wrong and ``demeaning to human nature'' for government to try to stop or limit human cloning experiments, said Sen. Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat.

``Human cloning will take place and it will take place within my lifetime,'' he said. ``I think it is right and proper. ... It holds untold benefits for humankind in the future.''

Ian Wilmut of the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, Scotland, said that since the world learned he and colleagues had cloned an adult sheep named Dolly, there has been an explosion of speculation about cloning of humans.

But Wilmut said human cloning is not practical, possible or ethical. ``Similar experiments with humans would be totally unacceptable,'' he said.

``I don't see any reason why we would want to copy a person,'' said the scientist.  ``It would be quite inhumane to contemplate using these techniques at this stage,'' he said.

Though he agreed with Harkin that ``it is not possible nor even desirable to attempt to regulate the way that science progresses,'' Wilmut said legislators should address ``the question of the individuals who will be involved, the children who would be involved.''

Harkin said it was wrong for President Clinton to issue an order to stop all federally funded human embryo research and for Sen. Christopher S. Bond, R-Mo., to propose legislation to make the research ban permanent.

He compared these government efforts to the 17th century punishment of the astronomer Galileo.

Several senators and two witnesses applauded Clinton's order to ban human cloning research for 90 days while the whole issue is considered by the National Bioethics Advisory Commission.

``There are aspects to life that should be off limits to science,'' said Bond. ``We must draw a clear line. Humans are not God and they should not be allowed to play God. It is morally repugnant.''

Bond's bill is SB368.

 

 

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