As usual, an excellent post! This is an important issue that got run over by the war in Iraq. During the 2000 election, I was sure stem cells and
human cloning would be the defining issue of Bush's tenure as president.
I think they probably will push this ban through, but actually it's a little late. Pandoras box has been opened, and now they're trying to close
it. We have the secret of eternal human life and perfect health, and it's being kept secret for greed..simple, myopic greed. How typical, how very
It's our own fault, like usual. We nurtured their superiority complex with our own inability to handle our affairs. Now to figure out how to go
about cleaning up the mess..
It really is too late for them to do anything about it though. They will make it illegal, form task forces and committies, but it's far too late to
stem to tide. No pun intended.
Researchers will pull the shades and continue on with their work, pausing only occasionally to glance over their
I'm not entirely comfortable with the technology myself, because I see life as a cycle that must have a beggining, a middle, and an end. Without the
whole story, the meaning cannot be known, I really believe that.
However..that being said. Arbitrary limitations on advancement are to be avoided at all costs. I would like to live to be a thousand years old,
maybe more. I would like my children to be healthy and strong despite any genetic faults I might have passed on to them. I would like to explore the
limits of this new frontier, despite the risks. I'm not sure if we're meant to have this knowledge, but I suspect we are.
We (America) have been struggling with cancer a great deal, more so than nearly every other country (with the exception of some former Russian
republics and parts of India) a strange sort of condition it is. Cancer is life unbound, it's one of only two types of cells that I know of capable
of theoretically infinite reproduction. It really is a miracle of sorts. We might not even need stem cell cloning to realize the dream of the
fountain of youth. Cancer may be the key to unlocking the mystery of our cellular clock to keep it well oiled, maybe even turn it back. All other
cells are limited by the number of times they can replicate, it's called the Hayflick limit if I'm not mistaken. If we could utilize the cancer
mechanism to spur the growth of other cell types, we'd be in business.
The problem is, cancer forgets what sort of cell it's making, so it produces useless, but reproductively active cells that continue to grow but serve
no physiological purpose. If we could only remind the cancer cells what they're supposed to be, we could transform them from deadly to helpful.
I think this is a hard debate to orchestrate, because it takes place on different planes for different people. For some this is a moral issue, for
others it's simply business, for still others the issue is made more urgent and personal by their fear of death. Obviously there are a lot of
agendas that need to be reconciled before progress can be made.
I can't really participate in the 'moral' debate, since the morality in question is essentially an ancient control mechanism. God said don't do
this, God said don't do that, don't eat pork, don't work on Sunday, don't have sex with yourself or members of your own gender; these are all
rules designed to strengthen the relgion and keep people alive and breeding, they have nothing whatsoever to do with quality of life or expanding the
human consciousness. How can you argue with people who place more importance on a dusty book than they do on their own family, their own mind..scary.
I would also like to point out that stem cells from cord blood bypass all the religious rhetoric and is pretty much unassailable from a scriptural
point of view.
All these prohibitions, has anyone stopped to think what their root might be? Why aren't you supposed to get tattoos or eat pork? Maybe it has
something to do with the spread of disease back in biblical times. Why aren't you supposed to masturbate or have sex for purposes other than
procreation? Maybe it was a measure designed to increase the flock.. Why aren't you allowed to keep your money for yourself, the wealthy certainly
do.. Why aren't you allowed to think for yourself? Because someone is thinking for you.
That's pretty much the end of the ethical conflict in my humble, secular opinion. I can however participate in the debate surrounding the science.
Some scientists claim that they're afraid to use stem cells because stem cells cause cancer. Well that's too bad, I guess you'll have to try them
on me first.
If I don't have cancer from cigarettes, Canadian forest fires, copious amounts of Mountain Dew, gamma rays, or any of the millions of
other carcinogens I roll around in on a daily basis, I'm not going to get it from stem cells. And If I have cancer, what have I got to lose?
The realm of science is not the government's business. They really shouldn't care, it's an issue of patients rights and private research dollars,
not anything having to do with the constitution or the bill of rights. Stem cells have nothing to do with interstate or international trade. They
have nothing to do with the minting and distribution of money, nor do they have any relevance to national security. Government had a purpose for
which it was designed, they have exceeded their authority for far too long and should be dealt with accordingly.
The government needs to put on the pointy hat and sit in the corner in time out. The next time we need a million or so 'brown people' murdered to
facilitate the pumping of hydrocarbons, we'll reinstate their authority.
One way of dealing with this situation would be to make insurance illegal. I have no problem with that, and it wouldn't really hurt the individuals,
only the companies involved. The whole concept of insurace is ludicrous to me, it's just like the casinos, the house always wins. They don't win
every single time, but they always come out ahead. Insurance rates have been used as an excuse for far too long. First it was seat belts, then it
was smoking, now it's my unborn fetus!
A legal note: Shouldn't any stem cells cloned be the property of the child they belonged to? In the case of abortions the rights would immediately
revert to free use. I think that's a fine system, because it curbs abuse. No scientist would be tempted to clone his child and patent the result.
Anyone could use their patented line of stem cells that came from their cord blood, they could market and liscense their own genetics as they saw fit.
There should never be a legal context in which one being has ownership of another. If that were allowed, we would have defacto slavery, and
sexual/physical abuse would be even more rampant than it is already. After all, nobody can tell Random Scientist X what to do with his property.
Perhaps the best way to fix this problem and others like it would be to change copyright law rather than make special exemptions for biological
patents, or try to change peoples minds. It would be best for all parties involved, I think, if there was a ten year limit on exclusive ownership of
any patent or trademark. Ten years is enough to make a hell of a lot of money off something as revolutionary as a cancer treatment/fountain of youth,
but not so long a period of time that millions of people have to die waiting to get the treatment they need. If you're already a millionaire, what
is the lure of becoming a billionaire? I can't fathom that sort of insatiable appetite. It seems so alien to me. Isn't the fate of humanity more
The truth is, eugenics is back, and we're going to have a hell of a fight on our hands if we ever want a decent and fair society. The rich will keep
getting treatment, and the poor will continue to suffer and die, until we realign our priorities as a species. Sometimes I think an alien invasion
would be the best thing that could happen to this world. I don't think we'd be having this discussion, about limiting science, if ray guns were
lighting up the sky over DC.
I hope we can talk more about this issue, it will probably be the single most important advancement made by our generation. The first cloned human
will usher in a new era of mankind, I look forward to seeing that..
Followed shortly after by the apocalypse.
Edited to add this: I want to check out some of those studies you mentioned and compare them to info from the past couple of years. Maybe we can get
down to the nitty gritty of how and who. Those who were working in the 40's and 50's most likely mentored the new crop, or at least influenced
them. There are some interesting personalities working in the field, and the actual progress is, in many cases, phenomenal. Theory has always
allowed for all kinds of whacky things, but we're actually at the trial stage of several major breakthroughs (+50 years added to lifespan in next 15
years. This stuff never seems to make the news, the local rags focus on the kitten-up-a-tree stories and the national publications are strictly
war/sports/entertainment (well, they're all entertainment, but you know what I mean, gossip and star talk and that crap). Many newspapers country
wide are fully 50% car ads, of all things, advertisements for combustion driven chariots, vroom vroom.
Also keep in mind, people would still need to have all their vitamins and minerals, which they don't. Most cancer is probably attributable to a
chronic vitamin or mineral deficiency. We should probably focus on that first, as a society. Food, Water, Air, Shelter, Health, Education, in that
[edit on 21-2-2005 by WyrdeOne]