May 24, 2004 | David F. Coppedge

Stem Cell Cover-Up?

Stem cells, most have heard, hold promise for many life-saving cures.  Michael Fumento in Insight Magazine claims that while adult stem cells have shown many positive results, the media and science establishments tend to hype the benefits of embryonic stem cells while glossing over the ethical and moral problems they present.
    Recently, Nature1 published an editorial about the ethical controversy in Korea, in which a lab working on therapeutic cloning pressured female students to donate their eggs for the study.  Noting that to some, “the idea of creating a human embryo and culturing it for several days to obtain stem cells that would be needed to grow such grafts is morally reprehensible,” the editorial says the last thing cloning research needs now is further ethical controversy.  “If the air is not cleared quickly, the consequences for Korean science – and for research into therapeutic cloning internationally – could be severe.  It will be a tragedy if one of the greatest scientific stories of the year ends up being remembered, in South Korea especially, as one that lost the trust of the people.


1Editorial, “Ethics of therapeutic cloning,” Nature 429, 1 (06 May 2004); doi:10.1038/429001b.

Nature seems to miss the point.  It is more concerned about whether the women were coerced than whether creating human embryos just to destroy them is morally reprehensible or not.  While some techniques may really help those with debilitating genetic diseases, we cannot assume scientists all operate from pure motives.  Fame and fortune seduce many a mortal.  Just because some things can be done, that doesn’t mean they should be done; and in a Darwinian world, who decides?

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