The revenge of ethics? Dr. Hwang, world cloning champ, on the ropes
Dr. Hwang Woo-suk, the flamboyant Korean cloning expert, has hit a bit of a snag in his attempts to be the world leader in cloning. But first, let's note his many achievements: the first cloned human embryo to be destroyed for stem cells; the first cloned dog; the first claimed international network for stem-cell supply. The first two were technical triumphs, the third a public relations coup that quickly drew sign-ons from all over the globe. And then Time magazine decided that his cloned dog, Snuppy, should be declared the invention of the year.

If a cloned dog is an invention, why was this year's cloned human embryo not ranked as an even more amazing invention? Of course, to call humans (even embryonic ones) inventions would imply either that we have manufactured them (a controversial claim, though some claim that embryos could be patented as "manufactures") or that God invented us in the first place (which smacks of intelligent design!).

Don't forget that this same Dr. Hwang has also claimed he should be able to write his own ethics code—that we should leave ethics to the scientists. Pride comes before a fall. Or, as the Greeks had it, hubris leads to nemesis. Just one day after Time honored him for inventing the cloned dog, Dr. Hwang's distinguished collaborator, Dr. Gerald Schatten, packed his bags and pulled out.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the "global consortium" is collapsing hard on the heels of Schatten's departure. And Schatten's departure is his response to Hwang's ethics. This is how the Chronicle puts it:

Schatten was the first to announce he was no longer willing to take part in the venture, citing 'misrepresentations' by his ...

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Life Matters
Nigel M. de S. Cameron is now president and CEO of the Center for Policy on Emerging Technologies. His "Life Matters" column, a commentary on bioethics issues, ran from 2005 to 2006.
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