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Genetic Crossroads
March 31st, 2001

1. Hearing held March 28

Following a Congressional hearing last week, Rep. James Greenwood
(R-PA) announced his intention to introduce federal legislation
banning the creation of human clones. Greenwood said he hoped to
have a bill introduced within three weeks and passed and signed
within six months.

The announcement is significant because Greenwood is a moderate,
pro-choice Republican, and thus might be able to broker legislation
that would have support of both conservatives and liberals in the
Congress, and President Bush.

In the past Congressional conservatives have tended to support
legislation that bans both cloning fully formed humans (reproductive
cloning) and the creation of clonal embryos to be used in medical
research (embryo cloning). Liberals have tended to oppose reproductive
cloning, but not embryo cloning.

Greenwood's proposed legislation would ban reproductive cloning only,
and remain silent on embryo cloning. Greenwood indicated that he had
the support of his committee chair, conservative Billy Tauzin (R-LA),
as well as of the ranking minority committee member, liberal Democrat
Peter Deutsch (D-FL).

In the wake of Greenwood's announcement, Rep. Brian Kerns (R-IN)
introduced a bill banning both reproductive and embryo cloning, and
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said she would introduce legislation
banning reproductive cloning only. Other bills are also likely. A
spokesperson for President Bush said the President was strongly
opposed to "human cloning and cloning research."

The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) says it will oppose
any effort to ban embryo cloning. BIO has also stated its opposition
to reproductive cloning, but has favored voluntarily restraints by
scientists and corporations rather than legislative bans.

Greenwood's announcement came at the end of the hearing held by the
oversight subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
The impetus for the hearing was the announcement by two fertility
doctors that they plan to begin cloning human beings. Most of the
committee members, Democrats and Republicans alike, voiced strong
opposition to that effort. Some quotes appear in Part IV below.

Legislation to ban human cloning failed in the US Senate in 1998, when
lobbying by the biotech industry and differences over embryo cloning
produced a stalemate. Another failure now, at a time when rogue
scientists are openly declaring their intentions to begin creating
human clones, would foster the belief that civil society is incapable
of preventing a techno-eugenic epoch.

2. What You Can Do: Briefing Packets Available

At this moment, the shape of the coming US legislative struggle over
cloning is fluid and unclear. We'll keep you apprised of developments
both in Washington and in the growing opposition to human genetic
manipulation as they occur, in future issues or special bulletins.

Available now is a briefing packet prepared by the Exploratory
Initiative on the New Human Genetic Technologies, "THE CASE AGAINST

The packet contains short overviews of the science, history, social
and ethical debate, policy options, and politics associated with
cloning and "germline" genetic modification, as well as reprints
of important articles and a resource guide.

This material can serve as the basis for informed participation in the
coming campaigns. Literature in the packet can be copied for public
distribution; and used for briefings or discussions in organizational
or house meetings, reading groups, classrooms, and other venues.

For a free copy, send your name and postal mail information to:
<[email protected]>.


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