The news is all over the place. PhysOrg wrote about it yesterday: Meet Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua, the first monkey clones produced by method that made Dolly. They say:
The first primate clones made by somatic cell nuclear transfer are two genetically identical long-tailed macaques born recently at the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Neuroscience in Shanghai. Researchers named the newborns Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua — born eight and six weeks ago, respectively — after the Chinese adjective “Zhonghua,” which means Chinese nation or people. The technical milestone, presented January 24 in the journal Cell [Cloning of Macaque Monkeys by Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer], makes it a realistic possibility for labs to conduct research with customizable populations of genetically uniform monkeys.
The lab is following strict international guidelines for animal research set by the US National Institutes of Health, but Sun and Poo [senior author Qiang Sun and Muming Poo, a co-author] encourage the scientific community to discuss what should or should not be acceptable practices when it comes to cloning of non-human primates. “We are very aware that future research using non-human primates anywhere in the world depends on scientists following very strict ethical standards,” Poo says.
As might be expected, there’s an immediate reaction from the Discovery Institute. This just appeared at their creationist blog: With Monkey Success, Cloned Human Baby Is Closer. It was written by Wesley J. Smith, a Discoveroid “Senior Fellow” and a lawyer. His specialty is “Human Exceptionalism,” which is Discoveroid code for “In His Image.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
Cloning research continues apace. Human embryos have been manufactured via somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) — the same process that created Dolly the sheep — and allowed to develop to the blastocyst stage, the point that an embryo can be implanted into a uterus.
Those embryos were then destroyed for stem cell research. But they could just as readily have been implanted in an attempt at bringing the embryo to birth. In other words, contrary to some accounts, human cloning has been and is being done, since the act of cloning is SCNT — not implantation, gestation, or birth.
Maybe so, but that’s irrelevant for the moment. Then Wesley says:
And now, the first cloned primates have been born. [Quote from an article in the Wall Street Journal.
Okay, what does Wesley think about it? He tells us:
The successful births came from DNA taken from fetal, not adult, cells. That is the usual course in this research. Eventually — probably sooner rather than later — scientists will successfully create monkey clones from adult cells and bring them to birth successfully. At that point, there won’t be much — other than some further technique refinement and self-restraint — to prevent scientists from taking the knowledge garnered in those experiments and moving on to bringing cloned human babies to birth.
We’ve already figured that out. So what’s the Discoveroids’ “scientific” view of it? Wesley continues:
In the United States, that would be perfectly legal (except in a few states). There is no federal legal prohibition — although it can’t be funded by the government. Nor are there any international protocols preventing such a use of human cloned embryos.
At the end of his brief post, Wesley declares:
I think there should be [a law against human cloning]. I also think human SCNT should be legally prohibited. People can disagree with that, but good grief, we aren’t even talking about it.
That’s all he says — no reasons are given, no principles are cited, no hint as to how anyone’s rights would be violated (assuming one voluntarily consents to be cloned) — he just doesn’t like it, and for that alone it should be illegal. As always, the Discoveroids are showing us that they are at the cutting edge of science.
Addendum: [This was our comment below, but we like it enough to add it here.] The creationist objection to human cloning is just another example of the ancient fear of man trespassing on things that are the domain of the gods. It’s “scientists playing god.” It goes back to the Tower of Babel. A more modern version is when Dr. Frankenstein “went too far” and created his monster. To the simple mind, there are “things man was not meant to know.” The humorous flip-side of this is when a creationist tries to play scientist.
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