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Center for Genetics and Society urges senators to ban cloning

[The Center for Genetics and Society is circulating this letter and
asking for signatures. Specifically, the center wants Congress to
enact "a ban on reproductive cloning and a moratorium on the creation
of clonal embryos." Naturally I'd be happy to circulate opposing
views or an opposing sign-on letter. --Declan]

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle
Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott
Members of the Senate
cc:  President George W. Bush
     Members of the House of Representatives
February __, 2002
Dear Senators, 
The United States Senate will soon be considering legislation on human
cloning. Your decisions will have profound implications for the future
of humanity.  
The new technologies of human genetic engineering are among the most
consequential ever developed. If used wisely they hold great promise,
but if misused they could lead to a future more horrific than any we
might imagine. 
These technologies are being developed at a frenzied pace. The general
public has had little real opportunity to consider their full
implications. There are few significant controls over their use. 
These conditions leave us vulnerable to being pushed into a new era of
eugenic engineering, one in which people quite literally become
manufactured artifacts. The implications for individual integrity and
autonomy, for family and community life, for social and economic justice
and indeed for world peace are chilling.  Once humans begin cloning and
genetically engineering their children for desired traits we will have
crossed a threshold of no return.  
Given the rapid pace of development, the enormous stakes, the lack of
societal controls and the fact that informed public debate has barely
begun, what is the responsible course of legislative action at this
With regard to human cloning, we believe the answer is straightforward. 
First and obviously, the United States should ban the creation of
full-term human clones ("reproductive cloning"). There is no unmet need
that requires the creation of genetic duplicates of existing people.
Surveys show that 90% of Americans support bans on reproductive cloning.
Nearly 30 countries world-wide have already agreed to such bans. The
United States should do likewise without delay. 
Second, the United States should enact a moratorium on the creation of
clonal human embryos for research purposes (often prematurely called
"therapeutic cloning"). The widespread creation of clonal embryos would
increase the risk that a human clone would be born, and would further
open the door to eugenic procedures.  Fortunately, important research on
embryonic stem cells does not yet require the use of clonal embryos. A
moratorium would allow time for alternatives to research cloning to be
investigated, for policy makers and the public to make informed
judgments, and for regulatory structures to be established to oversee
applications that society might decide are acceptable.  A moratorium on
research cloning is a middle ground between the two positions of an
immediate permanent ban and an unconstrained green light. 
We strongly urge as well that the United States join with other
countries, under the auspices of the United Nations, to work towards an
international convention that would ban dangerous applications of the
new genetic technologies, while encouraging the many applications judged
to contribute to the improvement of human well-being.  
We are long-time advocates for human rights, the environment, and social
justice.  We are strong supporters of women's health and reproductive
rights, disability rights, and biomedical research.  We believe in the
inherent equality and human dignity of all people. We want to help
ensure that our descendants live in a world in which these values are
sustained and nurtured. 
We believe that a ban on reproductive cloning and a moratorium on the
creation of clonal embryos are the policies most consistent with the
values and commitments we share.  We strongly urge you to support
legislation that would enact such policies into law. 
(Partial list; Organizational endorsements shown with *, otherwise
organizations shown for identification purposes only ) 
Lori B. Andrews, J.D., Chicago-Kent School of Law; former Chair, Human
Genome Project ELSI Working Group;
George J. Annas, J.D., M.P.H., Chair, Health Law Department, Boston
University School of Public Health; 
Paul R. Billings, M.D., Ph.D., Founder and Executive Vice-President,
GeneSage, Inc.; 
Brent Blackwelder, Ph.D., President, Friends of the Earth;*  
Alexander Morgan Capron, L.L.B., University of Southern California
School of Law; National Bioethics Advisory Commission (1996-2001);
Daniel Callahan, Ph.D., Co-founder and former President, The Hastings
Troy Duster, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology, NYU.  Author, Backdoor to
Viola Gonzales, Executive Director, Latino Issues Forum; 
Andrew J. Imparato, President and CEO, American Association of People
with Disabilities; 
Manning Marable, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Research in
African-American Studies, Columbia University;
Robert  K. Musil, Ph.D., M.P.H., Executive Director and CEO, Physicians
for Social Responsibility;
Judy Norsigian, Executive Director and Co-founder, Boston Women's Health
Book Collective*; 
This letter is being coordinated by the Center for Genetics and Society
(CGS), a non-profit organization working in support of responsible
societal governance of the new human genetic technologies.  For
information about the letter or the Center contact Tania Simoncelli at
510-625-0819 ext. 306, or tsimoncelli@genetics-and-society.org.
Address: 436 14th St., Suite 1302,  Oakland, CA 94612. 
Signers of this letter and CGS staff are available to meet with and
brief concerned civil society leaders regarding the challenges of the
new human genetic technologies.  

----- End forwarded message -----

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