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  • TITLE: GENETIC CROSSROADS #16
  • SOURCE: Exploratory Initiative on the New Human Genetic Technologies, USA
  • DATE: March 31, 2001
  • archive: http://www.gene.ch/genet.html

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CONTENTS I. US CONGRESS TO CONSIDER BAN ON HUMAN CLONING 1. Hearing held March 28 2. What You Can Do: Briefing Packets Available II. INTERNATIONAL COALITION FORMING TO OPPOSE HUMAN CLONING AND INHERITABLE GENETIC MODIFICATION III. REPORT FROM THE ANTINORI / ZAVOS CLONING WORKSHOP IN ROME IV. POINTERS AND QUOTES 1. Papers on Women and Human Genetic Manipulation Available 2. US Congressional Representatives on Cloning 3. Condemnations of Human Cloning from Around the Globe V. ABOUT GENETIC CROSSROADS

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Supporting responsible uses of human genetic technologies Opposing the new techno-eugenics

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I. US CONGRESS TO CONSIDER BAN ON HUMAN CLONING 1. Hearing held March 28 Following a Congressional hearing last week, Rep. James Greenwood (R-PA) announced his intention to introduce federal legislation banning the creation of human clones. Greenwood said he hoped to have a bill introduced within three weeks and passed and signed within six months. The announcement is significant because Greenwood is a moderate, pro-choice Republican, and thus might be able to broker legislation that would have support of both conservatives and liberals in the Congress, and President Bush. In the past Congressional conservatives have tended to support legislation that bans both cloning fully formed humans (reproductive cloning) and the creation of clonal embryos to be used in medical research (embryo cloning). Liberals have tended to oppose reproductive cloning, but not embryo cloning. Greenwood's proposed legislation would ban reproductive cloning only, and remain silent on embryo cloning. Greenwood indicated that he had the support of his committee chair, conservative Billy Tauzin (R-LA), as well as of the ranking minority committee member, liberal Democrat Peter Deutsch (D-FL). In the wake of Greenwood's announcement, Rep. Brian Kerns (R-IN) introduced a bill banning both reproductive and embryo cloning, and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said she would introduce legislation banning reproductive cloning only. Other bills are also likely. A spokesperson for President Bush said the President was strongly opposed to "human cloning and cloning research." The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) says it will oppose any effort to ban embryo cloning. BIO has also stated its opposition to reproductive cloning, but has favored voluntarily restraints by scientists and corporations rather than legislative bans. Greenwood's announcement came at the end of the hearing held by the oversight subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The impetus for the hearing was the announcement by two fertility doctors that they plan to begin cloning human beings. Most of the committee members, Democrats and Republicans alike, voiced strong opposition to that effort. Some quotes appear in Part IV below. Legislation to ban human cloning failed in the US Senate in 1998, when lobbying by the biotech industry and differences over embryo cloning produced a stalemate. Another failure now, at a time when rogue scientists are openly declaring their intentions to begin creating human clones, would foster the belief that civil society is incapable of preventing a techno- eugenic epoch.

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2. What You Can Do: Briefing Packets Available At this moment, the shape of the coming US legislative struggle over cloning is fluid and unclear. We'll keep you apprised of developments both in Washington and in the growing opposition to human genetic manipulation as they occur, in future issues or special bulletins. Available now is a briefing packet prepared by the Exploratory Initiative on the New Human Genetic Technologies, "THE CASE AGAINST HUMAN CLONING AND GENETIC MANIPULATION." The packet contains short overviews of the science, history, social and ethical debate, policy options, and politics associated with cloning and "germline" genetic modification, as well as reprints of important articles and a resource guide. This material can serve as the basis for informed participation in the coming campaigns. Literature in the packet can be copied for public distribution; and used for briefings or discussions in organizational or house meetings, reading groups, classrooms, and other venues. For a free copy, send your name and postal mail information to: <humanfuture@publicmediacenter.org>.

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II. INTERNATIONAL COALITION FORMING TO OPPOSE HUMAN CLONING AND INHERITABLE GENETIC MODIFICATION Activist pressure for global bans on human cloning and inheritable genetic modification will increase this spring, when an emerging coalition of organizations will raise these issues at two international fora: >From April 14 to May 2 in New York City, meetings of the Rio+10 PrepComm and of the UN Commission for Sustainable Development are being held in preparation for the tenth anniversary of the Earth Summit, which will take place in Johannesberg next summer. Between May 14 and May 22, the World Health Assembly, which sets policy for the World Health Organization (WHO), will meet in Geneva. Hundreds of delegates from countries around the world are expected. WHO has issued statements opposing human cloning, and commissioned staff reports that have called for a ban on inheritable genetic modification, but has not yet taken steps beyond that. The coalition of activist groups will be working to encourage and support the WHO in carrying out its responsibilities regarding the new human genetic technologies. IF YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION WOULD LIKE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS EFFORT AND ABOUT HOW YOU CAN PARTICIPATE, please contact Doug Hunt, Exploratory Initiative on the New Human Genetic Technologies, at <dhunt@hgtinitiative.org> or 202-488-5635.

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III. REPORT FROM THE ANTINORI / ZAVOS CLONING WORKSHOP IN ROME On March 9 fertility doctors Severino Antinori and Panos Zavos held a one- day event in Rome about their plan to begin cloning human beings. The Exploratory Initiative on the New Human Genetic Technologies sent a colleague, researcher/author Peter Shanks, to the conference. A summary of his observations follows. His full report, "Cloning Group Shows Their True Colors," is available from <teel@adax.com>. "The small group of fertility specialists who hope to clone humans tried to boost their legitimacy with a `scientific workshop' at a prestigious clinic in Rome on March 9, but only emphasized their isolation from mainstream researchers and medical practitioners. "Few scientists attended. Only two made themselves known in the audience, which otherwise consisted of some 100 journalists and cloning advocate Dr. Richard Seed. No serious scientific discussions occurred. "Contradictory and occasionally offensive remarks were frequent. At one point Antinori pointedly observed that Dr. Mengele, the Nazi torturer, was a `government doctor' and that this represented an argument against legislation or regulation. "It is now clear that Antinori, Zavos, and their colleagues could be disregarded were they not so dangerous. They are willing to accept risks that no one else considers remotely acceptable, in an attempt to do something that most people consider obscene. Yes, they have between them created a lot of babies. Yes, they may be able to make a clone, which might or might not be born without significant deformity. Certainly, they have the determination, probably the technical expertise, and undoubtedly the complete lack of conscience required to attempt such a thing. "There is no better argument for an international ban on human cloning." -- Pete Shanks

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IV. POINTERS AND QUOTES 1. Papers on Women and Human Genetic Manipulation Available Two new articles are available: "The Implications of Human Reproductive Cloning and Germ Line Alteration for Women and Women's Health: Ten Mis- conceptions" by Lisa Handwerker. Contact <lisahand@juno.com> or see <www.ourbodiesourselves.org>. "Human Germline Manipulation and Cloning as Women's Issues" by Marcy Darnovsky. Contact <teel@adax.com>. --------------------------------------------------------------------------

2. US Congressional Representatives on Cloning Rep. James Greenwood (R-PA), chair of the House Energy and Commerce oversight subcommittee: "We're dealing with the most profound of human responsibilities--the future of our species." Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL): "Human cloning must be banned now and forever." Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA), chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee: "Cloning may literally threaten the character of our human nature." Rep. Peter Deutsch (D-FL), ranking Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee: Members seem to feel "a total consensus...that we should absolutely, completely ban human cloning...It is our job to legislate to make sure that human cloning is not legal and acceptable here in the USA." Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL): "Even if cloning begins with a benign purpose, it could lead to scientific categories of superior and inferior people."

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3. Condemnations of Human Cloning from Around the Globe The cloning projects announced by the Antinori/Zavos team and by the Raelian religious sect have sparked legislation on cloning in several countries, and strong condemnations by scientists, senior government officials, and many others: - The Council of Europe's protocol against human cloning, the first binding international ban, took effect on March 1 when a fifth nation ratified it. Two weeks later, Italy joined Spain, Slovakia, Slovenia, Greece, and Georgia in ratifying the ban, by a 385-3 vote with 13 abstentions. The Romanian legislature also passed, without debate or objection, a draft bill ratifying it. Twenty-four of the 43 Council of Europe states have signed the protocol. <http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20010310/sc/ human_cloning_1.html> <http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_242345.html> <http://www.centraleurope.com/romaniatoday/localpress/ monitorul.php3?id= 285444> - The Canadian government now hopes to pass legislation this spring banning human cloning and "germline" genetic engineering, and regulating other genetic and reproductive technologies. <www.vancouversun.com/> - The Xinhua News Agency reports that a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee stated that human cloning is not allowed in China. <http://library.northernlight.com/ FA20010308420000036.html?cb3D0&dxg3D100= 6&sc3D0> - Antinori and Zavos were condemned by Britain's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and by the Australian Medical Association. The Italian medical association warned that any member who tries to clone a human risks expulsion and loss of the right to practice medicine. <http://salon.com/mwt/ wire/2001/03/12/cloning/index.html>; <http:// www.abc.net.au/news/science/ research/2001/03/item20010310123616_1.htm> - The Cypriot government said it would not permit human cloning after Antinori identified Cyprus as a possible locale for his project. <http:// www.ekathimerini.com/news/content.asp?id=74950> - Panos Zavos agreed to retire from the University of Kentucky, where he was professor of animal sciences in the agriculture department since the early 1980s. Zavos said university officials were concerned by his association with the human cloning effort. <http://www.messenger-/ inquirer.com/news/kentucky/2815209.htm>

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V. ABOUT GENETIC CROSSROADS (formerly Techno-Eugenics Email Newsletter) This newsletter originated in 1999 out of the concerns of academics, activists, and others in the San Francisco Bay Area about the direction of the new human genetic and reproductive technologies. It is published by the Exploratory Initiative on the New Human Genetic Technologies, a public interest organization working to alert the public and leaders of civil society about the urgent need for societal oversight of these technologies and the dangers of the techno-eugenic vision. We support genetic and reproductive technologies that serve the public interest. We oppose those--especially human germline engineering and human reproductive cloning--that would be likely to exacerbate inequality, the commercialization of reproduction, and the commodification of human genes and tissues. GENETIC CROSSROADS is published approximately once a month. Feedback, submissions, and suggestions are welcome. Marcy Darnovsky will moderate. Please forward GENETIC CROSSROADS to others who may be interested. Exploratory Initiative staff, San Francisco: Marcy Darnovsky, Ph.D. <teel@adax.com> Richard Hayes, M.A. <rhayes@publicmediacenter.org> Tania Simoncelli, M.S. <tania@publicmediacenter.org> Jesse Reynolds, M.S.<reynolds@nature.berkeley.edu> Exploratory Initiative staff, Washington DC: Douglas Hunt, Ph.D. <dhunt@hgtinitiative.org> To subscribe, unsubscribe, and for all other communications: <teel@adax.com> To unsubscribe send the message "unsubscribe no-cal" to <majordomo@geneticcrossroads.org>.

 


 

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