New Perspectives Quarterly: Genetic Manipulation
aeldra at netcom.com
Fri Feb 4 13:33:49 EST 1994
New Perspectives Quarterly is proud to announce its electronic debut on *The
Electronic Newsstand*. Via the Newsstand, NPQ is available 24 hours a day,
7 days a week. For those of you less familiar with NPQ, here is a short
NPQ is not a magazine. It is an exclusive, ongoing dialogue
of the world's best minds and most authoritative voices. NPQ's
thematic approach focuses these minds and voices in a way that connects
the topical debates of the day to the deeper issues of civilization at
the end of the 20th Century. No other publication puts it all
together for you to read.
NPQ is published by a non-profit corporation, The Center for
the Study of Democratic Institutions, and contains approximately 64
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An excerpt follows:
PARIS -- The first human clone was created in July 1993 when its
scientific fathers, Jerry Hall and Robert Stillman of George Washington
University, managed to separate two cells, technically known as cleavage
cells or blastomeres, that derived from the duplication of a cell
originally fertilized in vitro. They then succeeded in isolating these
cells in artificial membranes and causing them to divide again up to 32
times into the minimum number of specialized cells required for an
embryo to be reimplanted in a womb and grow.
This announcement exploded like a bombshell in the scientific community.
By applying the findings of this experiment, it would be possible to
produce several identical embryos -- copies of a single human being
deriving from artificial fertilization -- and reimplant them in various
surrogate mothers, thereby creating a theoretically unlimited number of
The success of the American scientists did not, however, come about by
chance. It was the outcome of a competitive race between rival teams who
were surely not unaware that the ability to clone human cells heralds
the opening-up of a huge potential for economic development, and perhaps
even offers in the future a radical solution for cutting the rising
costs that have caused a crisis in health care throughout the West. But
genetic cloning at the same time raises new ethical and economic
problems that parliaments throughout the world cannot yet bring
themselves to look in the eye, as though spellbound by the very prospect
of the immense and unprecedented choices confronting them.
A PATENT ON LIFE -- It has been known for some 15 years that it would one
day be possible to use genetic discoveries for therapeutic purposes, but
few expected the kind of advances we have already seen until the middle
of the next century.
First, the vegetal and animal cell was used as a locus for the
artificial reproduction of human genes. In 1973, an initial gene
transfer from one bacterium to another provided a means of creating
artificial genes in a plant. In 1979 an historic judgment by the U.S.
Court of Appeal for Patents and Trademarks authorized for the first time
the patenting of artificially produced living beings -- in this case a
new single-cell colony of bacteria -- because the courts considered it to
be an item of living matter that depended for its existence on human
intervention. The ruling was confirmed a year later by the U.S. Supreme
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