BUENOS AIRES, May 19, 2004 ( – A group of Argentinean scientists is calling on the their government to overturn a 1995 law banning all human cloning. Committee of Ethics in Science and Technology has urged the use of cloning to produce human embryonic stem cells for research into diseases. In a statement, Alberto Kornblihtt, a representative of the Committee, said that the product of human cloning is not a human being. He made the distinction between 'therapeutic' and 'reproductive' cloning calling reproductive cloning “socially” unsafe. He said, “Even if the technical problems are solved, reproductive cloning is unjustified from a medical and social point of view.” The Committee was set up in 1991 to advise government in areas of science ethics and is also urging the Argentinean government to reconsider its support of a UN proposal to ban cloning for any purpose and to allow cloning for research.

Dr. Kornblihtt, a biologist, based his justification for therapeutic cloning on a distinction that has been widely rejected by competent science and ethics experts. In an editorial that appeared in last February's National Post, Fr. Raymond De Souza wrote about the same distinction-without-a-difference being made at that time by Dr. James Watson, the renowned discoverer of DNA. Fr. De Souza wrote, “To summarize the relevant ethical judgment: The embryo allowed to live should never be created; the embryo destined for destruction is ethically praiseworthy… the non-distinction between reproductive and therapeutic cloning has become a fashionable position.”

Dr. Dianne Irving, an expert in the ethics of cloning and stem cell research, said that the statement from Dr. Kornblihtt is not surprising. “The idea that a cloned embryo isn't really an embryo is the latest in a long history of redefining this kind of work to make it more palatable. The latest tack is that immediate product of cloning is not an embryo or a human being; it's just 'totipotent stem cells'.” Dr. Irving has done detailed analyses of cloning legislation around the world. She told, “It doesn't surprise me they are doing this in Argentina. They are making up language: cloning scares people, so call it something else. This is coming from group of international researchers who have mastered the art of lobbying. The same language can be found in documents from all over the world, verbatim.”

Dr. Irving has tracked the changes in language used to convince governments to allow cloning and embryo research. “We are not cloning a human being, that would obviously be wrong, so now we are just manufacturing totipotent stem cells for research. Who could oppose that?”

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