Human Cloning Could Do Good

Article excerpt

Boy wonder Clashing reds IT IS natural that there should be excitement and a sense of pride that the scientists have created Britain's first cloned human embryo. This technique has substantial potential for good.

The announcement from Newcastle University came on the same day that a team in South Korea showed that it had improved its own methods of creating new cells that could potentially be used in transplants. This therapeutic - as opposed to reproductive - cloning involves the production of cells that are genetically identical to individual patients and which could one day, if progress continues, be grown into replacements for damaged tissue.

That could perhaps mean treatments for conditions such as spinal injuries or Parkinson's disease. These afflictions currently devastate many lives. It would be wrong not to welcome the possibility of better therapies. There are, however, those who genuinely believe that such research is an interference with nature and that it is ethically objectionable because it involves the destruction of embryos. While it is true that human egg cells left over from IVF treatments are used in this way, it is hard to describe what takes place as the destruction of persons. A day old human embryo, though living tissue, clearly lacks the attributes that go towards making it a person, such as sentience or the ability to survive independently. And neither the Newcastle or the Korean team are trying to use these methods to enter the morally far more problematic territory of reproductive cloning, which means producing a genetically identical copy of an existing human being.

But it is right that we should respect scientific achievements that will in themselves lead to better understanding of how diseases develop, and could one day lead to cures.

ONE UNIVERSALLY accepted truth about the Conservatives' election campaign, acknowledged by supporters and opponents alike, is that internal dissent was kept to a minimum. …