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Friday, April 25, 2014

Human cloning: Science as tool or master?

In an oddly titled Washington Post editorial, "Stem cells: Good or evil?" the usually clear and readable Post suddenly prefers sterile, technical language ("something called somatic cell nuclear transfer") over the much more readily understood term, human cloning. The editorial suggests that a new process simply involves "creating stem cells cloned from the normal skin cells of adults," when in fact researchers actually cloned and killed living human embryos like utilitarian lab rats.
Gallup polling shows that 83 percent of Americans oppose human cloning; hence the obfuscation.
Several decades of grant-seeking researchers' scandalous propaganda and hundreds of millions of research dollars thrown at embryo-destructive research have produced zero cures. Yet the Post persists in promoting the hype, asserting that human cloning will at long last produce "extraordinary new treatments." Yes, we've heard it all before--"cures of biblical proportion," paraplegics "leaping out of wheelchairs." Following this yellow brick road unfortunately diverts precious funds away from ethically non-controversial and proven effective non-destructive stem cell research.
The editorial also ignores the exploitation of and health risks posed to egg donors, especially poor women, by the hormonal harvesting procedures required for human cloning. Moreover, if human cloning is technically perfected, no law will prevent rogue scientists from cloning a baby, along with potential horrific physical defects and unspeakable psychological trauma.
Science is a powerful tool that can serve us well within ethical boundaries and critical scrutiny. Without such boundaries and scrutiny, we will become its victims--and in the case of cloned human beings, its slaves.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Study: Marijuana use causes brain dysfunction. Hey, man...whoa. Dys-what?

To the dismay of pot smokers who are still able to read to the study, The Journal of Neuroscience tamps out the fast-spreading notion that casual marijuana use does no harm. From the news report in the Washington Post:
A study in The Journal of Neuroscience says even casual marijuana smokers showed significant abnormalities in two vital brain regions important in motivation and emotion.
“Some of these people only used marijuana to get high once or twice a week,” said co-author Hans Breiter, quoted in Northwestern University’s Science Newsline. Breiter hailed the study as the first to analyze the effects of light marijuana use. “People think a little recreational use shouldn’t cause a problem, if someone is doing OK with work or school,” he said. “Our data directly says this is not the case. 
“This study raises a strong challenge to the idea that casual marijuana use isn’t associated with bad consequences,” he added.
Washington and Colorado have legalized the drug for recreational use, and 21 states and the District of Columbia permit medical marijuana use. Turns out the Rocky Mountain high may lower cognitive function. But if the study is correct, it may be too late now for Coloradans and Washingtonians to figure that out.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Media misses human cloning opposition, but reasons abound

The Washington Post headline, "Cloning advance using stem cells from human adult reopens ethical questions," suggested investigative insight into the controversy. Yet somehow the Post failed to find a single opponent of human cloning to quote, only quoting the researchers who stand to profit from the embryo-destroying human cloning experiments.
That's odd, since Gallup polling reveals that fully 83 percent of Americans oppose human cloning, which means the reporter literally could have stepped outside the Post enclave and found myriad opponents on the street to interview.
Opponents include scores of ethically concerned citizens besides "religious groups" as the article suggests. Some of the 83 percent of Americans who oppose human cloning reject it because no human being should be created simply for the use of someone else. Advocates on both left and right oppose human cloning because it would require huge numbers of eggs taken from exploited women through dangerous procedures. My colleague Jennifer Lahl has documented these dangers in the film, Eggsploitation.
Others realize that no researcher's promise and no federal law could ever stop rogue scientists in the US or anywhere in the world from bringing a cloned human embryo to birth. That would risk horrific abnormalities and incur unspeakable psychological harm on the cloned baby created not as an original, but as a copy, not out of a mother and father's love, but out of scientific experimentation.
Several decades of highly paid researchers' hype about embryo-destructive research have produced none of the promised cures, all the while siphoning precious funds from proven effective adult stem cell research and other non-controversial stem cell methods. Instead of parroting the hype of invested researchers, offer readers a critical, even-handed look at this controversy that threatens to undermine the core ethical safeguards of our humanity.