We noted here just the other day the all-but-absent ethical angle in the Daily Telegraph story about the creator of Dolly the cloned sheep and a new technique for creating stem cells without embryos. Now, we have two reports from Maggie Fox, our Health and Science Editor in Washington, that address the scientific and ethical issues.
The Daily Telegraph had a fascinating scoop over the weekend — Professor Ian Wilmut, the creator of Dolly the cloned sheep, has abandoned the therapeutic cloning method for a new way to create stem cells without an embryo. In classic Fleet Street style, the London daily announced in the second paragraph that the decision “will send shockwaves through the scientific establishment.” It took another 16 paras to get to other constituencies for this story, who are mentioned in passing in the line that “there is an intense search for alternatives because of pressure from the pro-life lobby, the opposition of President George W Bush and ever present concerns about cloning babies.”
Amid the hullabaloo in the “science vs. religion” debate, one conference produces more thought-provoking arguments than the usual fare. It’s called “Beyond Belief” and it’s been held these past two years at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California. The first reports of this year’s session (Oct 31-Nov 2) are just coming out — the latest edition of New Scientist has a full-page story and an editorial (registration required) — and there was an interesting new tone to the debate.