Crafting a Cloning Policy: From Dolly to Stem Cells

Crafting a Cloning Policy: From Dolly to Stem Cells

Crafting a Cloning Policy: From Dolly to Stem Cells

Crafting a Cloning Policy: From Dolly to Stem Cells

Synopsis

Ever since Dolly, the Scottish lamb, tottered on wobbly legs into our consciousness-followed swiftly by other animals: first, mice; then pigs that may provide human transplants, and even an ordinary house cat - thoughts have flown to the cloning of human beings. Legislators rushed to propose a ban on a technique that remains highly hypothetical, although some independent researchers have announced their determination to pursue the possibilities. Political scientist and well-known expert on reproductive issues, Andrea L. Bonnicksen examines the political reaction to this new-born science and the efforts to construct cloning policy. She also looks at issues that relate to stem cell research, its even newer sibling, and poses a key question: how does the response to Dolly guide us as we manage innovative reproductive technologies in the future?

Excerpt

In mid-1996, a lamb, Dolly, was born in Scotland after having been cloned from a mammary gland cell of an adult female sheep. The announcement of Dolly's birth in early 1997 provoked an unusually intense international reaction that combined alarm about the potential for human cloning with fascination for the lamb gazing from her pen at milling crowds of reporters and photographers. Her birth quickly became part of the popular culture and the grist for whimsical musings. [Mary had a little lamb,] one poetic couple wrote, [she cloned it from a ewe. The lamb, confused, [did ask] the sheep. Am I me or you?] (Seares and Seares 1997). Headlines along the lines of [Hello Dolly,] [Bring in the Clones,] [Clone on the Range,] and [There Can Never Be Another Ewe] masked unsettling feelings about what it would be like to clone human beings. A technique thought to be impossible and long the topic of fiction had been accomplished, pending replication of the study.

Dolly's birth was achieved through somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), in which technicians transferred a body (somatic) cell from an adult sheep to an enucleated egg and prompted it to begin divid-

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