The unmasking of Korea's cloning fraud Dr. Hwang Woo-Suk has drawn the world's attention to one of the biggest problems faced by would-be embryo researchers: the need for human eggs. Since eggs are hard to get, the idea that cloning would provide one-on-one medications for millions of people has never seemed plausible, even if it were ethical. So scientists are looking for ways around the need for human eggs, at least for their basic research.
It's therefore no great surprise to read the latest news from the United Kingdom, which has taken the lead in the race to the Brave New World. But it is chilling news. According to The Guardian newspaper,
Scientists, including Professor Ian Wilmut who cloned Dolly the sheep, are planning to use rabbit eggs instead. It gives new meaning to that old phrase "breeding like rabbits." They want to clone human embryos in rabbit eggs, and then destroy the embryos to get their stem cells.
The problem is, while this solves one ethical problem (getting eggs from women), it raises a worse oneout of the frying-pan, into the fire. The embryos that result from this process will not be entirely human. They will be what are called "chimeras"part human, part rabbit. Mostly human, of course, but not all.
The Latest from Korea: Trafficking in Hope
The saddest story of the great debate about human cloning is its human cost. Like a biotech version of Enron, the cloning advocates have traded in worthless currency, and with it they have purchased hope. Unfortunately, it is as easy to purchase the hope of the sick, handicapped, and those who love them as it is terrible.
One of the most powerful indictments comes from a story in the Los Angeles Times about one of Dr. Hwang's victims in Korea. Just ...1