Restrictions on cloning and stem cell research will turn US into scientific backwater

August 23, 2001 14:00 EST
Restrictions on therapeutic cloning and stem cell research will turn the US into a scientific backwater, lawyers today warned politicians. Don't mismanage the opportunity as you mismanaged nuclear technology, they urged.

Harvard University to Become Supplier of Embryonic Stem Cells

Associated Press, Reuters; August 25, 2001
Boston, MA -- A fertility clinic will give human embryos to Harvard in a deal that could make the university one of the world's top suppliers of embryonic stem cells.

Boston IVF, a Waltham, Massachusetts-based organization of fertility clinics, said it has thousands of frozen embryos that could provide stem cells. The firm said it plans to begin contacting donor couples for permission to use their embryos so Harvard scientists can extract stem cells.

"Of the handful of couples we've contacted, they seem to be quite interested," Dr. Doug Powers, director of Boston IVF's laboratory, said, adding that a "decision to donate won't come up until they finish infertility treatment."

``It is our intention to make these cells available to anyone who would like them to do research,'' Douglas Melton, chairman of Harvard's cell and molecular biology department, told The Boston Globe for Friday's editions. ``They are not being prepared with the intention of having any rights, commercial or otherwise.''

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute will finance the arrangement between the school and the clinic. Melton is on the staff of the Maryland-based private foundation.

The institute will give Boston IVF $"80,000 over two years to cover the cost of providing the embryos. The institute already provides general support for Melton's lab at Harvard, he said Friday, and the lab would receive no extra money specifically for extracting and preserving the stem cells.

The arrangement between the fertility clinic and the university is part of a three-way collaboration with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a nonprofit medical research and philanthropic organization in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Boston IVF serves about a thousand couples a year, and has helped conceive about 7,500 babies in five years. It stores all unused embryos in giant liquid nitrogen freezers.

Massachusetts law requires oversight by a scientific ethics board for donation of embryos. Harvard's institutional review board will monitor the deal with Boston IVF. Any embryonic stem cell research conducted at Harvard would not be eligible for federal funding per President Bush's announcement.

U.S. Approves Labs With Stem Cells for Federal Use

The National Institutes of Health will announce the names today of 10 organizations that possess stem cells eligible for use by federally financed researchers.

Why can't we play God?

Foes of human cloning would make science a prisoner of religion
Ayn Rand Institute
The Bush administration has declared itself "unequivocally opposed" to human cloning, whether for stem-cell research or reproduction. "The moral and ethical issues posed by human cloning are profound and cannot be ignored in the quest for scientific discovery," the president said. The premise here is apparent: Until a scientist can satisfy the religiously minded, the scientist cannot proceed Science functions by permission of religion. On this premise, we would not have anesthesia, birth control or, arguably, the wheel.

Corporate anxiety over proposed US cloning ban

28 August 2001 12:00 EST

Proposed US law would chase would-be cloners

28 August 2001
Reproductive or therapeutic cloning faces new threats from the US Congress. Will this cause a brain drain of American stem cell scientists to the UK? Or is the technology too new to matter much?

Stem Cells and Cloning in the Public Eye

The Scientist 15[17]:4, Sep. 3, 2001
By Barry A. Palevitz
From golden rice to global warming, science makes headlines these days like never before. Not since Dolly the sheep made her debut five years ago did a scientific issue command as much attention as did cloning and stem cells during the week of Aug. 6. As soon as the White House announced on Thursday afternoon, Aug. 9, that President George W. Bush would make a nationally televised speech that evening regarding federal funding of stem cell research, newspapers, TV, and the Internet courted the story, complete with voyeuristic views of eggs pricked with a new set of genetic instructions. Along with the latest news, we were also stuffed with the usual pontifications from preening pundits and science wonk wannabees. Nobody was sheepish about expressing opinions, no matter how "unseminal."

In Cloning, Will One Person Really Make a Difference?

By Arlene Judith Klotzko
The Scientist 15[16]:51, Aug. 20, 2001
In just a week, two developments in Washington restored cloning to the very top of the policy agenda in the United States, knocking stem cell research off the perch it had enjoyed--or just endured--for months. On July 31, by a vote of 265 to 162, the House of Representatives passed the Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2001, a ban on all human cloning, including therapeutic cloning to derive immunologically compatible embryonic stem cells. And on August 7, Severino Antinori, an infertility specialist from Rome, announced he was going to clone a human by November. It seems as if an awful lot of people want to be cloned.

Humans need to modify their DNA to stay ahead of intelligent machines

Sunday September 2, 2001
The Observer
Nick Paton Walsh
Stephen Hawking, the acclaimed scientist and writer, reignited the debate over genetic engineering yesterday by recommending that humans change their DNA through genetic modification to keep ahead of advances in computer technology and stop intelligent machines from 'taking over the world'. He made the remarks in an interview with the German magazine Focus. Because technology is advancing so quickly, Hawking said, 'computers double their performance every month'. Humans, in contrast, are developing much more slowly, and so must change their DNA make-up or be left behind. 'The danger is real,' he said, 'that this [computer] intelligence will develop and take over the world.'

Hawking, author of the best-selling A Brief History Of Time and a professor of mathematics at Cambridge University, recommended 'well-aimed manipulation' of human genes. Through this humans could 'raise the complexity of... the DNA [they are born with], thereby improving people'. He conceded the road to genetic modification would be a long one but said: 'We should follow this road if we want biological systems to remain superior to electronic ones.'

Full Text:,6903,545653,00.html

New Stem Cell Issue as Congress Returns

An enormous shift has occurred in the public debate over financing for studies of human embryonic stem cells. Many question whether President Bush's plan is adequate to support the science.

Netscape Founder Withdraws Stanford Grant Because of Bush's ESCR Decision

Netscape Founder Withdraws Stanford Grant Because of Bush's ESCR Decision
Source: Associated Press; September 1, 2001
Stanford, CA -- Netscape founder Jim Clark is withholding $60 million of his $150 million contribution toward a biomedical research center at Stanford University in protest of federal restrictions on embryonic stem cell research.

The billionaire entrepreneur made his startling announcement in an opinion piece published in the New York Times. Stanford University President John Hennessy, who was told in advance of Clark's decision, alerted his faculty late yesterday.

The university has already broken ground on the center, which will marry several science and engineering disciplines to develop new cures for disease. The center is named in Clark's honor.

"Congress and the president are thwarting part of the intended purpose of this center by supporting restrictions on stem cell research and cloning," Clark wrote in his op-ed article. "It now seems that creating genetically compatible new skin cells for burn victims, pancreas cells for diabetics, nerve cells for those with spinal cord injuries and many, many other potential advances will soon be illegal in the United States."

Clark did not shut the door to reinstating the gift in the future. Instead, he said, he is suspending his pledge "pending the outcome of political deliberations."

University officials refused to comment on Clark's decision. In a prepared statement to be released today, Stanford President Hennessy said the university is "saddened by Mr. Clark's decision."

"Mr. Clark's initial $90 million gift will allow us to continue to build this vital center," Hennessy said.

Stanford scientists will continue to pursue embryonic stem cell research, Hennessy wrote, but they are "concerned" that restrictions on stem cell research and a pro-life ban on nonreproductive cloning will slow progress for promising clinical therapies.

Clark was an associate professor of electrical engineering at Stanford from 1979 to 1982.

In 1999, the maverick visionary who founded Silicon Graphics, Netscape, Healtheon and MyCFO pledged $150 million to build the research center -- known informally as "Bio-X."

In his Times op-ed piece, Clark had strong words about President Bush's Aug. 9 decision federal funds will not be allowed to go to any new embryonic stem cell research. -

Group warns of genetically-engineered class society

A leading group of physicians, scientists and health law experts and others will convene at Boston University, Sept. 21-22, to push for a global ban on genetic procedures that would fundamentally change the nature of the human species. Speakers will address a groundbreaking North American conference, "Beyond Cloning: Protecting Humanity from Species-Altering Procedures."

"Uncontrolled use of the new genetic technologies puts us at risk of turning people into products and setting us on a dehumanizing road to genetic genocide," stated George Annas, professor and chair of Boston University's Health Law Department. "Our conference will consider intellectual and policy frameworks to reverse this dangerous trend."

The conference will bring together experts in human genetics, medicine, health law, human rights, environmental protection and international affairs. The two-day event is sponsored by the Boston University Health Law Department and other groups.

Conference sponsors support human genetic research, including stem cell research, that might help prevent or cure diseases. They call for clear policy lines to be drawn between these acceptable technologies and those that would open the door to a future of "designer babies."

"Until recently, the debate on human genetic modification has been abstract and speculative," declared cell biologist Stuart Newman of New York Medical College. "With rapid developments in genetic engineering and cloning technologies, advocates of a global ban must speak loudly and move quickly. We must halt this slide into a biologically segregated world of genetically designed human beings."

The conference will address three topic areas: Setting Boundaries, Taking Action and Toward a Global Accord on Protecting Humanity. Speakers include Lori Andrews, Illinois Institute of Technology; Patricia Baird, University of British Columbia; Brent Blackwelder, President, Friends of the Earth; Alexander Capron, University of Southern California; Richard Hayes, Center for Genetics and Society; Andrew Imparato, American Association of People with Disabilities; Steven Marks, FXB Center of Heath and Human Rights, Harvard University; Judy Norsigian, Boston Women's Health Book Collective; Susannah Sirkin, Physicians for Human Rights; Allyn Taylor, World Health Organization; Michael Dorsey, Sierra Club; Michael Grodin and Rosario Isasi, Global Lawyers and Physicians; Debra Harry, Indigenous People's Council on Biocolonialism; Eric Juengst and Max Mehlman, Case Western Reserve; and Ann Snyder, Harvard Law School Ethics, Law and Biotechnology Society.

According to Evelyne Shuster, Ph.D., Board of Advisors of Global Lawyers & Physicians, "Most of Europe and many nations in the developing world are committed to banning the genetic alteration of the human species. It is imperative that the United States and all other countries do likewise. We hope our conference can provide the impetus to accomplish this historic objective."

The conference will be held at the George Sherman Union on the Boston University campus, 775 Commonwealth Ave. Registration or call Emily Bajsci at 617-638-4626. -

Back from the Brink: Cloning Endangered Species

- how cloning may be used to restore an endangered species' population, and could even "reverse" extinction