Although both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have abjured human cloning, the US Government is “aggressively” funding cloning experiments for non-human primates, claims the Center for Public Integrity. Most of the government’s largesse went to three researchers: Gerald Schatten, who helped to produce the first genetically-altered primate, Don Wolf, who has cloned monkey embryos, and James Thomson, the scientist who first isolated human embryonic stem cells.
The Center complains that this research is “relatively unregulated and has little public oversight”. “Some experts warn that it will ultimately bring human cloning closer to reality — unless clear laws are enacted to ensure that the knowledge gained from primate cloning is not replicated in human beings,” it says. It cites University of Pennsylvania bioethicist Autumn Fiester, who warns that even with strict regulation, “whenever the primate [cloning] technique has been perfected, it will propel someone somewhere in the world, maybe the Chinese, maybe the Koreans, who will try to clone a human being.”
Although primate researchers admit that their work has human spin- offs, they insist that it is not aimed at human cloning. “There is no rational justification for cloning non-human primates predicated on the interest in human,” says Don Wolf, of the Oregon National Primate Research Center.
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