On September 26, a panel of leading bioethicists discussed the future of cloning at the United Nations in New York. Speakers included Glenn McGee, Stuart Newman, Udo Schuklenk, Liz Krueger. The panel was cosponsored by the IHEU-Appignani Center for Bioethics and the Alden March Bioethics Institute of Albany, N.Y.
The sustained growth of biotechnology has reinforced bullish projections of its potential impact upon humanity. The diversity of biotechnological applications and the velocity of their development are continuously increasing the efficacy, range, and number of biomedical options. New possibilities for reshaping our lives, our procreative practices, and even our society are becoming less a question of “could we?” than “should we?”
Would extensive applications of projected biotechnological capabilities lead to unprecedented breakthroughs in human well-being? Is nuclear transfer technology, or cloning, morally objectionable at all times? For research purposes? Reproduction? With sentient animals? Humans? A “Brave New World” style dystopia?
The purpose of the panel was to present a variety of views on the ethics of cloning since the topic is so timely and controversial, in the wake of the South Korean announcement. Professor Glenn McGee discussed the answers to the questions above and the nature of the political and bioethics debate we can expect in the coming decade. Professor Schuklenk talked about some of the ethical issues involved in efforts to develop cloning techniques for reproductive (human) purposes. Professor Stuart Newman, a cell biologist, was pessimistic about embryonic stem cell research on practical grounds. Senator Liz Krueger talked about how to formulate public policy while balancing ethical, societal and medical considerations.
As biotechnology expands, so does the number of ethical issues that it confronts and creates. The increasing public awareness (though not necessarily understanding) of developing technologies, and the current intensity of religious-conservative politics have contributed to the upsurge in bioethical interest and debate. Read more at: http://humaniststudies.org/enews/index.html?id=210#n2
Ana Lita PhD
Director, IHEU-Appignani Center for Bioethics