The world just changed. An international consortium of scientists have announced that they have successfully cloned human beings using the process that led to Dolly the sheep. They were able to develop four cloned embryos in a dish to the “blastocyst” stage, the point in time when an embryo can be implanted in a uterus or destroyed for stem cells. The scientists here did the latter.
This is huge news — reproduction as replication. The door is now open to the development of Brave New World technologies such as genetic engineering and the birth of cloned babies. As I wrote in my book on these issues, Consumer’s Guide to a Brave New World:
We can pursue biotechnology to treat disease and improve the human condition, while retaining sufficient humility and self-restraint to keep ourselves from endangering the intrinsic value of human life. Or, we can hubristically rush onto the very anti-human path warned against by Aldous Huxley, driven by our thirst for knowledge, vast profits, and obsession with control and vastly expanded life spans.
These issues are too important to be “left to the scientists.” Nor can we afford to allow the marketplace to determine what is right and what is wrong. The stakes are too high, the potential impact on each and every one of us too profound, to remain passive and indifferent to the decisions that are to be made. It is our duty to participate in the crucial cultural and democratic debates over biotechnology. The human future, quite literally, depends on it.
I will write more extensively about this shortly. In the meantime, hold on to your hats — the culture wars just got more intense and divisive.