Science is not ready for experiments in human cloning, since nothing can guarantee that the future clone will lead a healthy life.
The first reactions from the scientific community to the news that Italian gynaecologist Severino Antinori announced that an Italian woman was carrying eight-week-old cloned foetus. Apart from ethical questions, experts have claimed that malformation, precocious ageing and early death are strong possibilities, based on observation of other cloned species.
Antinori had already shocked the scientific community for engineering the pregnancy of a 63-year-old woman in 1994. Now that he has stepped over the final frontier between the scientifically possible and the ethically acceptable, the criticism rains in from those who know what they are doing.
Ian Wilmut, the “father” of the genetically cloned sheep, Dolly, declared recently that “The cloning of animals is inefficient in all species. Premature births, abortions and malformation in the clones which survive are all frequent and the same can be expected in a human clone”. The cloning method currently used is the removal of the nucleus of the ovocyte, which is replaced by genetic material from both parents and implanted in the uterus.
More direct is Professor Rudolf Jaenisch, of the Massachussetts Institute of Technology, who accuses Antinori of “using the human being as a guinea-pig and for this reason he should be stopped”, he declared in Online New Scientist. Professor Jaenisch terms the notion of human cloning “irresponsible” and “repulsive”.
Antinori excuses himself by claiming that by effecting tests on the embryos, he can see which ones are affected by malformations and, supposedly, abort them before they develop further. However, cancers which can develop later in cloned beings would not be detected in such tests and given that the scientific community collectively claims that the chances of success are between 1% and 5%, Antinori distances himself as the pariah of the scientific community, a modern-day Dr. Frankenstein.
With one difference: he appears to be the monster.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru
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