“Scary and hilarious” were the words Glenn McGee, MSNBC columnist, used to describe last week’s cloning debate before a congressional subcommittee.
McGee’s column, titled “The Huckster Parade,” poked fun at Brigitte Boisselier and Panos Zavos, two cloning proponents interviewed by the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation.
There is not a good argument for cloning a human being, wrote McGee, who also serves at the University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics.
Listening to people like Boisselier, director of CLONAID, a laboratory run by a UFO cult, and Zavos, a scientist with no medical degree, ethicists can easily gather a wealth of objectionable material to support the ban on cloning, according to McGee’s column on MSNBC.com.
McGee noted the subcommittee hearing was “enjoyable in some ways” due to scientifically strong comments by some scientists about the risks of human cloning.
A Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientist noted in last week’s New York Times that the rapid reprogramming of an egg during human cloning can result in minor changes to the clone’s DNA. Such measures could cause massive injury and disability in later stages of development.
A Texas A&M scientist, who spoke about mammalian cloning malfunctions, has avoided discussing his institution’s involvement in cloning people’s pets.
“What is needed is legislation that first recognizes the immediate need to prevent hucksterism and crazy science,” McGee wrote. Congress has to regulate human cloning without stopping important disease research or preventing the eventual discovery of safe and effective cloning mechanisms which “might be permissible in some isolated cases,” he added.
If cloning was banned for five years, the nation could take a deep breath and discuss how it “fits into the social fabric of the American family,” he wrote. Even if cloning proves to work in humans, adults’ rights to make genetic copies of themselves and the rights of the clone will remain on the scene as primary ethical issues in the human cloning debate.
Alex Smirnov is BCE’s research associate.