When I saw the headline “Scientists and ethicists unite to attack doctor’s clone plan” I was intrigued. Lately science has a pretty feeble track record when is comes to ethics particularly when reproduction is involved. As far as ethicists go, they seem a particularly smarmy lot intent on crafting language that make horrific behavior sound peachy.
But here they both were combating an intrinsic evil, cloning. Had they finally acknowledged that human life has dignity from conception to natural death? Well, no.
As it turns out, the intrinsic evil that has these scientists and ethicists in attack mode is violation of procedure and the failure to publish.
Leading figures in the fertility world, including Lord Winston of Imperial College London, poured scorn on Dr Zavos’s claims, saying he had not produced any scientific evidence to support his statements, which critics said can only be done by publishing the work in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
“I do not know of any credible evidence that suggests Dr Zavos can clone a human being. This seems to be yet another one of his claims to get publicity,” said Lord Winston, who was the head of a fertility clinic at Hammersmith Hospital in London.
Alastair Kent, director of the Genetic Interest Group, a charity dedicated to helping families affected with inherited disorders, said that Dr Zavos claimed to have mastered a technology that other scientists had been struggling with for years.
“Once again he claims to have used it for purposes widely condemned as unsafe and dangerous. And he has done this in secret, using the hopes of couples desperate to create or to recreate a child as a springboard for his vaulting ambition,” he said.
“For his claims to have credibility, and to prevent the unethical exploitation of grieving or desperate couples Dr Zavos must throw open his work to peer review. He must demonstrate openness and allow scrutiny by experts, not just by the media. If he is as good as he claims then he has nothing to fear. If he is not, then vulnerable women and couples need protection from his activities,” Dr Kent said.
Not much as far as ‘attacks’ go. There is so much wrong with cloning that point out the failure to publish and to submit his work to peer review and the use of “unsafe cloning techniques” only serves to confirm my suspicion that there is very little in the way of actual ethics in modern science. The implication here is that if “safer” cloning techniques can be developed and some other scientist is willing to publish his work for peer review, well that might be ok. Procedure is no substitution for ethics.
These days whenever scientists and ethicists unite you can be sure of one thing. The world just got pushed a little further down the slippery slope.