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Genetic Crossroads
February 4th, 2000

The third meeting of the California Advisory
Committee on Human

Cloning was held on January 27 in Oakland. About ten people

had been alerted about the Cloning Committee meeting by this

newsletter attended. The committee heard from four invited speakers:

Patricia Baird, MD, Medical Genetics Department, University

British Columbia

John Robertson, JD, School of Law, University of Texas

Alta Charo, JD, University of Wisconsin School of Law

James Warner, Professor of Ethical Studies, Loma Linda University

Of the four, only Dr. Baird spoke in clear opposition to reproductive

human cloning. She described the work of the Canadian Royal

on New Reproductive Technologies, which she chaired and which
met from

1989-1993. The Commission solicited the views of over 40,000

citizens in conferences, public panels, focus groups, opinion

and by other means. IT concluded that "there is no compelling
case to

cross the boundary and to make people by asexual means; human

reproductive cloning is without clear potential benefits to
almost all

citizens and other options are available in most situations."

Here are a few excerpts from Dr. Baird's testimony:

"Most of the debate on human cloning [has] focused on
a weighing of

harms and benefits to individuals. This is a dangerously incomplete

framing….We need to shift…to a framing that reveals
how permitting

cloning affects future generations and our society as a whole….

Cloning raises profound issues about the future of our species.

haven't yet found the wisdom to deal with hunger, poverty, and

environmental degradation--we are unlikely to have the wisdom

direct our own evolution.

"Reproduction by nuclear transfer cloning makes it possible
for the

first time to think seriously about genetically enhancing humans….

All members of the public have a stake in whether cloning is

or not, because if cloned people exist, it changes things for

everyone….The decisions should not be taken pre-emptively
by a

particular clinical facility or a particular group of scientists

ignore the wishes of the rest of the community….How we
choose to

use or not use this technological capacity will help shape our

for our children, for their children and after. How it is used

likely to further entrench existing inequalities, and create


"Once we breach this barrier, it leaves us with no clear
place to

stop….We are at a clear and appropriate stopping place
on a very

slippery slope."

For copies of Dr. Baird's full presentation, contact Richard

at Public Media Center in San Francisco, CA: 415-434-1403 or

Contact us.


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