The World According to Nick
My take on Software, Technology, Politics, and anything else I feel like talking about.
Monday, October 03, 2005

A Cloning Ban... From the Left? 

Virginia Postrel has a very interesting article in Forbes on the criminalizing of science. But the people who want to make certain science a crime, aren't the people you generally think about:

On the op-ed page a scientist was pleading for Canada to repeal its law against cloning human embryos for research. In tolerant, open-minded, diverse and creative Canada therapeutic cloning--defined as creating an in vitro embryo with the same chromosomes as any other individual--is a crime punishable by ten years in prison.
...
And a few scientists are beginning to explore ideas for producing embryonic stem cells while respecting religious scruples. It might someday be possible to clone embryonic stem cells without creating and destroying otherwise viable embryos.

That's not an argument for banning embryonic research. But it's a promising route toward a nonpolitical solution to the dispute. As long as religious conservatives object to a specific procedure--destroying embryos--rather than to genetic research or life extension in general, it's possible to treat their concerns as a technical problem.

You can't say the same for the antibiotech left. In liberal Canada, in fact, the law defines cloning expansively. Future procedures that might avoid religious objections would still be illegal. The goal is to stop certain research altogether.

That may sound strange to Americans. To many liberal Democrats reproductive choice and scientific progress are touchstone values. But they aren't the only values on the activist left. For many environmentalists, most famously Bill McKibben and Jeremy Rifkin, tampering with genetic nature is inherently wrong. How you do it is a minor detail.

I'd actually never heard of the Canadian law before this... and was quite surprised. Banning cloning... from the left? I found the entire article to be quite interesting, and it's definitely worth a read. In this country, the religious right definitely takes the brunt of the punishment on this topic, but it's good to keep in mind that they're not the only ones who oppose this. There's a whole other group of people who oppose it for a whole different set of reasons. For them... its about taking class warfare into the genetic age.

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Name: Nick
Home: Wauwatosa, WI, United States

I'm a Software Consultant in the Milwaukee area. Among various geeky pursuits, I'm also an amateur triathlete, and enjoy rock climbing. I also like to think I'm a political pundit.


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