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This is such a joke: As I posted a bit ago, the International Society for Stem Cell Research has published a set of ethical guidelines to govern ESCR. Well, I opine—as I am wont to do—on the matter in the Daily Standard. I note that the people selected to be “the deciders” were pretty much a stacked deck for a wide-open license: “Unsurprisingly, many of the members of the ISSCR ‘International Human Embryonic Research Guidelines Task Force,’ who wrote the Guidelines, are well known for advocating that scientists be given an open field.

University of Wisconsin bioethics professor R. Alta Charo, for example, has stated that a legal ban on all human cloning would violate scientists’ First Amendment right to conduct research. Another task force bioethicist, Northwestern University’s Laurie Zoloth, previously advocated applying what she considers a ‘Jewish’ understanding of the moral status of human embryos to guide the ethics of stem-cell research—which is to say, she would give embryos no moral status at all when outside the womb, and treat them “as if they are simply water” for the first 40 days of gestation.

Stanford University stem cell biologist Irving Weissman, another task force member, made headlines in 2005 when he reportedly announced plans to create a mouse with a human brain. Then there is Ian Wilmut, who supervised the cloning of Dolly the sheep, and who supports reproductive cloning at least for people who can’t otherwise bear genetically related offspring. He also recently suggested tossing aside the usual rules that govern human medical experimentation in order to allow dying patients to be injected with embryonic stem cells, even though they are currently unsafe for human use.”

And how far do the Guidelines suggest researchers be allowed to go? “A lo-o-o-ong way. Remember when embryonic stem cell activists assured the nation that all they wanted to do was conduct experiments with leftover IVF embryos that were going to be destroyed anyway? Not anymore. The ‘rigorous’ ISSCR research guidelines explicitly endorse the creation of new human embryos—both through IVF fertilization and somatic cell nuclear transfer cloning—for use and destruction in stem-cell research.”

I note that these guidelines are strikingly similar to those published previously by the National Academy of Sciences. But we shouldn’t be suprised: When it comes to biotechnology, the watchword of the century is “anything goes.”

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