Harvard’s Doug Melton is one of the nation’s foremost biotech researchers into embryonic stem cells. He was interviewed recently in Discover magazine. You need to be a subscriber to access the entire article. So, I have reprinted a few choice quotes from the piece below, which provide further evidence that therapeutic cloning will not long remain in the Petri dish. Scientists like Melton apparently believe that when it comes to science, anything goes. (HT, Dorinda C. Bordlee, executive director of the Bioethics Defense Fund.)

“What would happen if scientists injected human stem cells into a monkey embryo? What would grow? A human heart, a human brain, a toe?” ‘That,’ he says, ‘is a kind of new biology that I find a million times more interesting than these specious arguments over whether life begins at fertilization.’”

“I find that when most people say ethics what they really mean is morals, and that it has to do with their religious beliefs. No one’s really trying to do unethical things.”

“So now let’s look ahead: Fast-forward two generations from now, and I will contend that it will be possible, by medical advances, to make cloning a child by nuclear transfer safer than natural childbirth- that the cloned embryos will have a defect rate of less than 1%.” (My emphasis.)

“It would take too long to talk about the various religious views of why one should isolate embryonic stem cells, and not, and whether cloning should be allowed. I don’t really want to get into it, and the reason is I don’t think it’s fundamentally interesting. It largely has to do with the trivial concern of trying to put a tag on when life begins. What I do think is deeply interesting is the issue of chimeras.”

The interviewer asked Melton if there is any instance he can imagine that would simply cause him to halt stem cell experiment. “I think it’s uninteresting to live in a society where one is so afraid of the unknown that you won’t try new things. I’ll think about the dangers, because I haven’t thought about them enough. I should think about why one shouldn’t do that experiment.”

Articles by Wesley J. Smith

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