Index Home About Blog
From: Steven B. Harris <>
Subject: Re: are clones really "clones"?
Date: Wed, 11 Apr 2001 12:40:39 GMT

In article <>, (Bob) wrote:

>On Thu, 29 Mar 2001 20:48:05 -0600, ronald <> wrote:
>>> But in cloning, a nucleus with genes in a configuration typical of an
>>> adult cell are quite suddenly required to be in another stage of
>>> development -- the one cell ("start here") stage. This whole business
>>> of development of genome activity is poorly understood, and certainly
>>> making a major change in it is not understood. Much of the discussion
>>> of Dolly technique, etc, deals with the ritual that was used to
>>> "reactivate" the genome. But it is essentially all empirical.

You guys have missed the important point. We've had clones for as
long as there have been people: they are called identical twins or
identical triplets. They are genetically identical, but they don't
have the same fingerprints, immune system, retinal patterns,
personalities, and their lifespans are significantly different (like
7 years on average), in part because they die of different diseases.

This is trying to tell you something.

You are not your genes. Your genes are a recipe, like a recipe for
chocolate chip cookies. They are not a blueprint which tells where
every chocolate chip goes.  There isn't enough information than that
in an organism which has more brain cells than it does DNA base

Clones raised years apart would be even more different due to
environmental effects not seen in twins-- different wombs, mothers,
cultural milleus. It will be astounding if they wind up as close as a
lot of fraternal brothers.

Anyway, the cultural impact of this is a yawner. We already deal with
it. It's a yawner.

>>one of the things which seems kind of obvious to me in this whole
>>cloning thing (which is basically vivisection as far as i'm
>>concerned) when applied to humans is the issue of the rights that
>>the clone would have, that animal clones don't.  for instance,
>>a defective clone (that survived) could be destroyed, but if you
>>did that with a human clone, that would amount to murder.

You can't destroy defective clones after birth any more than
defective children made any other way.  Why should you? Again, they
are like twins. Pre-birth, abortion laws rule. But not just for
clones. So again, a yawner.

>>furthermore, with an animal clone, you could confine it and control
>>it's movements.  but the same couldn't be done to a human clone.
>>thus, the human clone is free to both interact with other humans
>>(not knowing what the ramifications of that might be, or the mental
>>state of a clone).

So what?  Identical twins.

>> the human clone would also be free to reproduce,
>>thereby potentially propagating genetic defects.

So is anybody else with genetic defects like sickle cell disease and
Huntinton's chorea and Tay Sachs and so on. You can start on this
before you worry about clones.  Personally, another yawner for me. In
50 years we'll clean all these bad genes out with gene surgery, and
won't have to worry about eugenics.

>>the possible social implications of all this seem like something
>>right out of a science fiction horror film.

Ditto for heart transplant. We live with it. The implications of
cloning are a yawner.  Got it?  We already live with them.

From: "Steve Harris" <>
Subject: Re: Is it legal to clone myself?
Date: Fri, 20 Apr 2001 12:00:32 -0700

pge wrote in message <>...
>As an identical twin and exact genetic copy of another person, I must
>take issue with that statement.  I am a natural born clone and I am, by
>most accounts, completely normal.
>In article
>"Jeffrey says...
>>I think it is illegal to clone yourself in the US at this time. It would
>>be very unwize. So far, none of the bigger mammals cloned to date have
>>been normal.
>>Jeff Utz

Ignore above anxiety attack. They clone cows routinely now,
as a livestock breeding procedure. If you're a breeder
with money, Advanced Cell Technologies will do it for you
The only reason that's not news is that cows are boring.
And no, they're not abnormal. I'm sure there
are many people who'd like them to be. Who expect them to be.
But the image of a Frankencow is almost as funny as the
image of a Frankensheep, which the media has also tried very
hard to find (without notable success, I might add).


From: "Steve Harris" <>
Subject: Re: Is it legal to clone myself?
Date: Sat, 21 Apr 2001 19:01:42 -0600

"Beverly Erlebacher" <> wrote in message

>Are you sure they are commercially cloning from adult animals?
>Cloning by embryo splitting has been done commercially for decades, but
>this is more like artificially producing identical twins than what most
>people think about when they think cloning.

They are cloning from adult animals. It's old news. Use your search engine
with the phrase `perfect cow' to find the CNN story on it from Dec. 9, 1998.
In Japan 8 identical calves were cloned from 8 donor eggs and nuclei from an
adult animal's ovarian cells. Those 8 calves were clones of the adult. They
perform find as cows. As I said, you can buy this service from Advanced Cell
Technology in the US. They made millions on it last year, so the founder
told me when last I saw him.

>Dunno about that.  I talked to someone in a DVM/PhD program who
>is working with some of these technologies in farm animals, and
>it's not all it's cracked up to be.  There are a lot of problems
>with the new fertilty technologies in humans as well, apart from
>cloning.  The rate of spontaneous abortion and miscarriage of in
>vitro fertilization procedures is extremely high, and the
>children produced are in general not as "good quality" as kids
>from natural pregnancies, in general health or other criteria.

I'd like to see some quantitation of that. (It's shocking to even hear
somebody of your political persuation talk about "quality" differences
between kids ;9). If you find some objective health differences or other, it
would be hard to know what to do with even this data. Is a less healthy kid
better than no kid? Who is to decide? (Lemmesee, with abortion, it's the
mother, but with cloning it's the government; do I have you correctly?)

And if the kids are less healthy are they less healthy because of the
technique itself, or because their parents were less healthy specimens to
begin with (which is why they needed assistance in breeding, rather like
some bulldogs). In other words, would we have less healthy kids, even if we
did this cloning technique with people who didn't need it to reproduce to
begin with? I agree, a control group is needed. But it's sure hard to find,

If your argument is that we should be outlawing techniques which allow
unhealthy people to breed, or even to breed unhealthily, that's a pretty
straight eugenics line. Shocking. Do you really want to go down that road?
Yes, I can see why the taxpayer shouldn't have to pay for it (although we do
so now in the US with poor people who have many kids and still want IVF, go
figure). But failing to pay for something from public coffers is a very
different kind of thing in my mind than straight legal proscription. Yes, I
realize that there's no difference to some people, who seem to feel that if
everybody can't eat caviar, that we should outlaw caviar. Are you that kind
of person?

>After all, if a cow gets old or sick or just infertile, it is
>shipped off for hamburger or pet food, so there's no information
>about later effects, such as increased risk of cancer or other
>diseases of aging.

That's surely true. However, it's the argument used in general by
reactionaries to biotech, from agriculture to medicine. `We don't know how
it will affect these people in 70 years when they get old. Let's not do it
until we find out.' Like we should live so long. But it's the eternal cry of
the academic ethicist who doesn't happen to have a serious problem at the

There's not a new thing in our culture from PCs to Nintendo to cell phones
that we know the long term health consequences of using. This is not,
however, much of an argument for simply being knee-jerk opposed to all
progress, Rifkin style. If you want to be Amish, be my guest. But make your
own family use horses and buggies, and leave mine alone please. I'll take
the risk of using cell phones and enduring the radiation I get from taking
that jet to see the grandkids, or watching that newfangled color TV.

>In the potential case of cloning from adults, the above problems
>are greatly compounded by the fact that we don't even have
>a normal zygote.  In cloning farm and lab animals, there have
>been serious problems with disproportionate development of
>embryo and placenta, different in different species.

But not in rats and not in cows, and we can't tell in humans till we try it.

>So it may require a lot of women to take a lot of damage to
>their health to produce one questionably healthy infant to
>flatter someone's ego, at a monetary cost that could
>be used to save or ameliorate the lives of tens or even
> hundreds of thousands of other infants.

If the money were somehow available for it, and it was a matter of straight
tradeoffs, as in do I go out to dinner, or get a newer car, or do I save
this African kid? And if so, whose business is it, except mine and God's?

Ah, the eternal Clintonista argument!  The communist argument. The Canadian
mommie liberal argument. Money I spend for my kid and my private school is
my business, but money you spend on your kid and your private school (or
their braces and nosejobs and skis and violin lessons) or whatever, is
somehow destroying the public education system and taking food out of the
mouths of babes in the third world.  How can you with good conscience?

These things sound too much to me like social-status-sensitive verbs, ala
Japanese. I have a financially secure future; you have a lot of disposable
income; that rich bastard has more money than he needs. My children are my
supreme joy and sacred legacy; your children are something you did to make
you happy; his children are just selfish monuments to his ego...

>>But the image of a Frankencow is almost as funny as the
>>image of a Frankensheep, which the media has also tried very
>>hard to find (without notable success, I might add).

>It's easy to make a straw man out of such things, but there are
>real problems here, and laughing them off is no more realistic.

There aren't any real problems because we're not there yet, with humans. We'
ll find OUT about any real problems when we do it. As with the test-tube
babies, I'm sure there will be some problems, but suspect that the benefits
will outweigh them, rather as with any new piece of technology that changes
the world (cars, airplanes, computers, antibiotics, vaccination, The Pill 
can you think of anything good and revolutionary that hasn't brought a few
problems of its own?)

>Am I correct in assuming, Steve, that your opinion would be
>that any woman who wants to take both the known and unknown
>risks of these procedures, and can shell out the impressive
>amounts of money needed, should be allowed to do so?

Sure. They way to figure out sticky ethical problems is try it and see how
it works. Also, things that cost impressive amounts of money one day
(automobiles, jet airplane flights, computers), eventually trickle down to
the unwashed masses if allowed to develop (which means you let rich people
buy them first, don't you know)

So far as the bioethics, should we rip the living heart out of a young man
crushed in freeway accident, and stick it in the chest of some middle-aged
businessman who wants to get away with a few more years of eating filet
mignon? Yes? No? Does the government have to pay for it? How about a liver?
Somehow we've answered many of these questions, though the Left hasn't been
happy about either money-based transplant eligibility or social-merit or
age-based eligibility in this country. Actually, the Left wants to choose
the social merits for OTHER people, but would be very unhappy if this were
done to them or their families, by somebody else. It's the same old story.

>And anyone who can afford it should be able to hire a woman to
>take similar risks?

Sure, that's win-win. Not having money is a bad thing, you know. We hire
people to take risks all the time, from stuntmen to high voltage line
workers to astronauts to coal miners. If I can afford it, should I be able
to hire a bunch of schmucks to go out into the North Atlantic in a little
boat and see if they can catch swordfish for me to eat at my apartment
overlooking Central Park?  Do I need to eat swordfish that badly?
Whatdayathink?  It is, you know, perhaps the riskiest standard job on earth,
though not as risky as being US president. Should I be able to hire somebody
to be my president? Or should we just look at the 10% mortality rate and
make the job illegal?

Steve Harris

Index Home About Blog