FC: Center for Genetics and Society urges senators to ban cloning

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Mon Feb 04 2002 - 13:19:54 PST

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    [The Center for Genetics and Society is circulating this letter and
    asking for signatures. Specifically, the center wants Congress to
    enact "a ban on reproductive cloning and a moratorium on the creation
    of clonal embryos." Naturally I'd be happy to circulate opposing
    views or an opposing sign-on letter. --Declan]
    ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle
    Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott
    Members of the Senate
    cc:  President George W. Bush
         Members of the House of Representatives
    February __, 2002
    Dear Senators, 
    The United States Senate will soon be considering legislation on human
    cloning. Your decisions will have profound implications for the future
    of humanity.  
    The new technologies of human genetic engineering are among the most
    consequential ever developed. If used wisely they hold great promise,
    but if misused they could lead to a future more horrific than any we
    might imagine. 
    These technologies are being developed at a frenzied pace. The general
    public has had little real opportunity to consider their full
    implications. There are few significant controls over their use. 
    These conditions leave us vulnerable to being pushed into a new era of
    eugenic engineering, one in which people quite literally become
    manufactured artifacts. The implications for individual integrity and
    autonomy, for family and community life, for social and economic justice
    and indeed for world peace are chilling.  Once humans begin cloning and
    genetically engineering their children for desired traits we will have
    crossed a threshold of no return.  
    Given the rapid pace of development, the enormous stakes, the lack of
    societal controls and the fact that informed public debate has barely
    begun, what is the responsible course of legislative action at this
    With regard to human cloning, we believe the answer is straightforward. 
    First and obviously, the United States should ban the creation of
    full-term human clones ("reproductive cloning"). There is no unmet need
    that requires the creation of genetic duplicates of existing people.
    Surveys show that 90% of Americans support bans on reproductive cloning.
    Nearly 30 countries world-wide have already agreed to such bans. The
    United States should do likewise without delay. 
    Second, the United States should enact a moratorium on the creation of
    clonal human embryos for research purposes (often prematurely called
    "therapeutic cloning"). The widespread creation of clonal embryos would
    increase the risk that a human clone would be born, and would further
    open the door to eugenic procedures.  Fortunately, important research on
    embryonic stem cells does not yet require the use of clonal embryos. A
    moratorium would allow time for alternatives to research cloning to be
    investigated, for policy makers and the public to make informed
    judgments, and for regulatory structures to be established to oversee
    applications that society might decide are acceptable.  A moratorium on
    research cloning is a middle ground between the two positions of an
    immediate permanent ban and an unconstrained green light. 
    We strongly urge as well that the United States join with other
    countries, under the auspices of the United Nations, to work towards an
    international convention that would ban dangerous applications of the
    new genetic technologies, while encouraging the many applications judged
    to contribute to the improvement of human well-being.  
    We are long-time advocates for human rights, the environment, and social
    justice.  We are strong supporters of women's health and reproductive
    rights, disability rights, and biomedical research.  We believe in the
    inherent equality and human dignity of all people. We want to help
    ensure that our descendants live in a world in which these values are
    sustained and nurtured. 
    We believe that a ban on reproductive cloning and a moratorium on the
    creation of clonal embryos are the policies most consistent with the
    values and commitments we share.  We strongly urge you to support
    legislation that would enact such policies into law. 
    (Partial list; Organizational endorsements shown with *, otherwise
    organizations shown for identification purposes only ) 
    Lori B. Andrews, J.D., Chicago-Kent School of Law; former Chair, Human
    Genome Project ELSI Working Group;
    George J. Annas, J.D., M.P.H., Chair, Health Law Department, Boston
    University School of Public Health; 
    Paul R. Billings, M.D., Ph.D., Founder and Executive Vice-President,
    GeneSage, Inc.; 
    Brent Blackwelder, Ph.D., President, Friends of the Earth;*  
    Alexander Morgan Capron, L.L.B., University of Southern California
    School of Law; National Bioethics Advisory Commission (1996-2001);
    Daniel Callahan, Ph.D., Co-founder and former President, The Hastings
    Troy Duster, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology, NYU.  Author, Backdoor to
    Viola Gonzales, Executive Director, Latino Issues Forum; 
    Andrew J. Imparato, President and CEO, American Association of People
    with Disabilities; 
    Manning Marable, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Research in
    African-American Studies, Columbia University;
    Robert  K. Musil, Ph.D., M.P.H., Executive Director and CEO, Physicians
    for Social Responsibility;
    Judy Norsigian, Executive Director and Co-founder, Boston Women's Health
    Book Collective*; 
    This letter is being coordinated by the Center for Genetics and Society
    (CGS), a non-profit organization working in support of responsible
    societal governance of the new human genetic technologies.  For
    information about the letter or the Center contact Tania Simoncelli at
    510-625-0819 ext. 306, or tsimoncelli@genetics-and-society.org.
    Address: 436 14th St., Suite 1302,  Oakland, CA 94612. 
    Signers of this letter and CGS staff are available to meet with and
    brief concerned civil society leaders regarding the challenges of the
    new human genetic technologies.  
    ----- End forwarded message -----
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