JULY 11,1999 VIEWPOINT OF MAJOR NEWSCASTER IS YEAR OLD BROADCAST FROM THE BBC
“The Clone Rangers” television documentary broadcast with much advance publicity and promotion Sunday night, July 11th, 1999 by CNN offered a keen insight into the low level of the American public’s awareness about today’s most crucial scientific debate.
This year old report failed to mention the late 1998 isolation and cultivation of stem cells outside the human body. The creation and study of such cells through “differentiation” research promises to cure many diseases and revolutionize the practice of medicine.
The funding of creation and research on stem cells by the U.S. Federal Government is at the core of the current battle over “fetal tissue research’ raging in the U.S. Congress. Cloning and stem cell research is intertwined because there is only one way to create compatible tissue to treat a diseased individual. That would require inserting a cell taken from the patient being treated and inserting it into a denucleated human egg. That process is called nuclear transfer. Nuclear transfer is the basic technique used in cloning.
So, in July, 1999, while the future of science and medical research hangs in the balance in a debate among a bunch of uninformed, public-opinion-poll-worshipping Washington politicians, CNN dusts off an outdated debate and offers it up as “it’s” perspective.
In this historical flashback of the “cloning controversy” the viewing public is left believing that the “1 in 300” attempts which resulted in the birth of Dolly is the current measure of success. No mention was made of the enormous strides made recently in cloning goats in Massachusetts, which begins to rival the IVF success rates at human fertility clinics.
Dr. Richard Seed was the reigning political villain, “The Clone Ranger”, who was determined to clone a human being even if he had to go to Mexico to do it. The “innocent” and “decent” Seed supporters were an infertile couple who saw renewed hope for having their own children through cloning.
“If we used an egg donor,” the wife explained,”then I’d just be a surrogate mother bearing the child my husband was having with another woman!” No understanding or sympathy at the BBC and/or Independent production Company 2020 for infertile couples who do not want to spend the rest of their lives raising a child half of who’s genes are those of a stranger–or, at least, someone from outside their marital bond.
Then we have the great opponent to conception of a child through cloning technology, Patrick Dixon, speaking out about how cloning could be horrifically abused. Dixon, ever eager to sell what he described as “futuristic.” Dixon said cloning technology would be horrifically abused. He dwelled on the successful cloning of “headless” tadpoles and predicted that we’d soon have “headless humans” growing in tanks to supply organs to the originators.
Next we meet, Professor Lee Silver from Princeton University whose book, “Remaking Eden, Cloning and Beyond In A Brave New World,” has been described by some critics as “the book of the century.”
Survivor Silver simply declares that “the genie is definitely out of the bottle. Dr. Silver declares that cloning’s future is not controlled by declarations, committees or states, but “by the marketplace.” He emphasized that human cloning should be preceded by careful animal research.
The year old British documentary then lists the images of “human cloning” shaping today’s debate. The list is simply a series of science fiction nightmares: Huxley’s “Brave New World”; the movie, “Boys of Brazil”; and the 1990’s film, “Alien Resurrection.”
Dr. Richard Seed points out that all the images of cloning in literature and film are villainous and that no one has ever seen “a good clone.”
This sane observation is quickly forgotten as images of The Third Reich’s marching minions of Hitler fill the screen. Patrick Dixon offers the unsettling observation that if Hitler was indeed cloned “We might not get Hitler but we’d certainly get a psychopath.”
Professor Lee Silver appears and reassures us that clones of Hitler “are not going to happen.” Ultimately, Professor Silver is edited in a way that he seems “anti-cloning” which anyone who reads his book knows is untrue. He expresses the worries, included in his book, that parents always give their children the best possible opportunities and that wealthy folks will indeed have genetically-engineered and enhanced children who might, over several generations, become a separate “superior” species and that “that would destroy society as we know it.”
Futurist Patrick Dixon continues on the attack against conception through cloning saying one woman who contacted him seeking help “wanted to give birth to her own father.” This reviewer vividly recalls a young woman wandering into Clone Rights United Front headquarters and declaring: “I hate to tell you that I’m really against human cloning except for one thing. I’d like to clone my father!”
What a wonderful compliment! Love for a special person in her life, her father, overcame the social brainwashing against cloning! The visitor who declared, “I’d like to clone all my friends!” was equally human and memorable.
In this historical rebroadcast, the “evil” Dr. Seed deals with the question of “multiple” cloning by suggesting that couples should consider cloning both a male and female child, a later born twin of each.
This recommendation by Dr. Seed is twisted by the producers into a proposal to clone twin brothers and twin sisters of the couple in question.
Without noting the feminist perspective involved for single women unable to find males they feel are suitable parents of their desired children and/or the desires of lesbian couples to find fertility through cloning technology, the program notes direly that “cloning duplicates the person without needing men for creation of a new life without sex.”
Finally, the viewers meet the Raelians whose religious views celebrate science and who believe “cloning” is the reward for a life well lived. Without a mention of the very real religious freedom issues involved in the Raelian view of life and death the group is dismissed as a “cult” seeking to exploit the infertile.
To emphasize the “nightmares” that the possibility of cloning humans has raised, the program notes that some want “to use samples from the Shroud of Turin to clone Jesus Christ” and that “it might be possible to use frozen ‘warts’ from Elvis Presley to bring back ‘the king’.”
No science here about the necessity of having “live DNA” to clone any living thing. Any nightmare science fiction scenario will do.
Ironically, it would fall to Dr. Richard Seed to claim the moral high ground in the end (no doubt to the horror of the average viewer).
“God made us in his own image!” Dr. Seed declared. “He gave us the power to do this!”
Dr. Seed insisted that he be described as a “devout Christian” in the “Yes To Human Cloning” conference program guide held June l7 & June 18,l999 by the Raelians in Montreal, Canada. He is a long time member and activist in the Methodist Church .
CNN deserves some credit for approaching the human cloning controversy. But the viewing public deserves a better “perspective” than a year old dated English-produced biased documentary.