Is foetus farming the next big thing for stem cell scientists?
A member of the President’s Council on Bioethics claims that some stem cell scientists believe that “foetus farming” will be needed to overcome the drawbacks of embryonic stem cells. Professor Robert P. George, of Princeton University, says that ESCs from cloned embryos cannot be used in therapies because they are likely to cause tumours. However, tissue taken from human foetuses at around 16 or 18 weeks will not cause tumours and can be used to treat diseases.
Recent research by the Massachusetts firm Advanced Cell Technology discusses the use of stem cells from cloned cattle foetuses. Although the article did not mention human beings, it was plain that the purpose of the research was not to cure diseased cows, but rather to establish the potential therapeutic value of doing precisely the same thing with human beings,” writes Professor George in the Weekly Standard. “For those who have ears to hear, the message is clear.”
Professor George also points to legislation in New Jersey which authorises human cloning for the harvesting of “cadaveric fetal tissue” as evidence that some biotechnology companies are preparing for this development. “I suspect that those in the biotech industry who do look forward to foetus farming are betting that moral opposition will collapse when the realistic prospect of cures is placed before the public,” he writes.
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