Bush pushes international ban on therapeutic cloning

An international treaty to make sure you can’t grow your own spare parts? It’s part of the stakes in the Presidential contest.

People who like both the Bush tax cuts (or the war in Iraq) and stem-cell research are in a bad way this year. Some of them are trying to convince themselves, and other people, that the Bush administration policies aren’t really that bad for stem-cell research. After all, it is correctly pointed out, Bush imposed a ban on federal funding, not a ban on research.

Yes, but:

I haven’t seen this story in the U.S. media, but the Financial Times reports that the U.S. is pushing, along with Costa Rica, Portugal, Italy, and several African countries, for a U.N. convention that would ban all human cloning, including therapeutic cloning. (Update: Another link here.) Britain, Belgium, South Korea, Japan, and South Africa are on the other side, pushing for a convention covering reproductive cloning only.

One of the big long-term prospects if the stem-cell optimists win their bet, is something called Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer, which is the technical term for growing your own spare parts. ‘

Whether that turns out to be a live possibility remains to be seen. But the Bush Administration wants to make it illegal everywhere in the world, just in case.

Anyone who follows drug abuse control policy knows all too well the power of international conventions to make innovation difficult. The idea of starting to have international lawyers define what can, and cannot, be done with biotechnology strikes me as a profoundly bad one.

You’re free to disagree, of course. Perhaps you think that therapeutic cloning is inconsistent with the sanctity of life.

But don’t kid yourself that George W. Bush, if re-elected, won’t do his level best to get Leon Kass’s prejudices carved into stone. He’s doing it now.

Update: The Los Angeles Times now has the story.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

One thought on “Bush pushes international ban on therapeutic cloning”

  1. Finally, a reason to vote against Bush

    that can be taken seriously – that isn't either a blatant distortion (Iraq is a disaster!), a reason to vote for Bush (he's going to reduce Social Security benefits! He's going to go to war against Iran!), or a failing…

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