Open Letter to US Senate on Human Cloning

Open Letter to US Senate on Human Cloning

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle
Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott
Members of the Senate
President George W. Bush
Members of the House of Representatives

March 19, 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 technologies ever developed. If used wisely they hold great promise for preventing and treating disease, 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 understand and 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 time?

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 thirty 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.


[An asterisk indicates an organizational endorsement; organizational affiliations are otherwise shown for identification purposes only.]

  • Lori B. Andrews, J.D., Visiting Professor, Princeton University; former Chair, U.S. Human Genome Project Ethical, Legal and Social Implications Working Group
  • George J. Annas, J.D., M.P.H., Edward R. Utley Professor and Chair, Health Law Department, Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health; Co-founder, Global Lawyers and Physicians
  • Adrienne Asch, Ph.D., Henry R. Luce Professor in Biology, Ethics, and the Politics of Human Reproduction, Wellesley College
  • Thomas Athanasiou, author, Divided Planet: The Ecology of Rich and Poor
  • Diane Beeson, Ph.D., Chair, Department of Sociology and Social Welfare, California State University at Hayward
  • Medea Benjamin, Founding Director, Global Exchange
  • Philip L. Bereano, J.D., Vice-President, Washington Biotechnology Action Council*; Board member, Council for Responsible Genetics*
  • Paul Billings, M.D., Ph.D., Founder and Executive Vice-President, Chief Scientific and Medical Officer, GeneSage, Inc.
  • Brent Blackwelder, Ph.D., President, Friends of the Earth*
  • Charles L. Bosk, Ph.D., Faculty Associate, Center for Bioethics, University of Pennsylvania
  • Patricia A. Buffler, M.P.H., Ph.D., Dean Emerita, University of California Berkeley School of Public Health
  • Daniel Callahan, Ph.D., Co-founder and former President, The Hastings Center
  • Alexander Morgan Capron, LL.B., University Professor, Henry W. Bruce Professor of Law and Medicine, and Co-Director, Pacific Center for Health Policy and Ethics, University of Southern California; member, National Bioethics Advisory Commission (1996-2001)
  • Neil Carman, Ph.D., Sierra Club Genetic Engineering Committee
  • John Cavanagh, Executive Director, Institute for Policy Studies
  • Ignacio Chapela, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, University of California at Berkeley
  • Henry Cisneros, Ph.D., Chairman and CEO, American City Vista; former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
  • Mitchell Cohen, Co-Editor, Dissent; Professor of Political Science, Baruch College, City University of New York
  • Peter Conrad, Ph.D., Harry Coplan Professor of Social Sciences and Sociology Department Chair, Brandeis University
  • Irene Crowe, Ph.D., President, Pettus-Crowe-Foundation
  • Alice J. Dan, Ph.D., Professor and Director, Center for Research on Women and Gender, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Michael Dorsey, Thurgood Marshall Fellow, Dartmouth College; member, Sierra Club National Board of Directors
  • Barbara Dudley, former Executive Director, Greenpeace USA
  • Troy Duster, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology, New York University; author, Backdoor to Eugenics
  • Gregg Easterbrook, visiting fellow, the Brookings Institution; author, A Moment on the Earth
  • Linda L. Emanuel, M.D., Ph.D., Director, Health Section, Ford Center on Global Citizenship, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University
  • Marlene Fried, Ph.D., Director, Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program, Hampshire College
  • Alexander Gaguine, President, The Appleton Foundation
  • Seymour Garte, Ph.D., Professor of Environmental and Community Medicine, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey; Scientific Director, Genetics Research Institute, Milan, Italy
  • Todd Gitlin, Ph.D., Professor of Culture, Journalism and sociology, New York University
  • Fred Goff, President, The Data Center; co-founder, North American Conference on Latin America
  • Lynn R. Goldman, M.P.H., M.D., Professor, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; former Assistant Administrator, E.P.A. Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances
  • Viola Gonzales, Executive Director, Latino Issues Forum
  • Herbert Chao Gunther, President and Executive Director, Public Media Center
  • Robert M. Gould, M.D., President, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Bay Area Chapter
  • Eva Harris, Ph.D., President, Sustainable Sciences Institute; Assistant Professor, University of California Berkeley School of Public Health
  • Betsy Hartmann, Ph.D., Director, Population and Development Program, Hampshire College; author, Reproductive Rights and Wrongs: The Global Politics of Population Control
  • Tom Hayden, author; former California State Senator; co-founder, Students for a Democratic Society
  • Randy Hayes, President, Rain Forest Action Network
  • Richard Hayes, Executive Director, Center for Genetics and Society*
  • Don Hazen, Executive Director, Independent Media Center
  • Willard Hedden, Ph.D., Executive Director, Educational and Environmental Media Corp.
  • Anne Hemenway, Vice-President/Secretary, Citizens Vote, Inc.
  • Russell Hemenway, National Director, National Committee for an Effective Congress (NCEC)
  • Jim Hightower, radio commentator and author
  • Arlie Russell Hochschild, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology, University of California Berkeley; Director, Center for Working Families; author, The Managed Heart
  • Andrew J. Imparato, former General Counsel, National Council on Disability
  • Sheila Jasanoff, J.D., Ph.D., Professor of Science and Public Policy, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
  • Huey Johnson, President, Resource Renewal Institute; former California State Secretary of Natural Resources
  • Philip Kitcher, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University; author, The Lives to Come: The Genetic Revolution and Human Possibilities
  • John Knox, President, Earth Island Institute
  • Marc Lappé, Ph.D., Executive Director, Center for Ethics and Toxics; author, Broken Code: The Exploitation of DNA
  • Philip R. Lee, M.D., Institute for Health Policy Studies; former Chancellor, University of California San Francisco; former Assistant Secretary of Health, U.S. Health and Human Services Department
  • Michael Lerner, President, Commonweal
  • Michael Lerner, Ph.D., Editor, Tikkun
  • Susan Lindee, Ph.D., Department of History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania; co-author, The DNA Mystique: The Gene as Cultural Icon
  • Daniel B Magraw Jr., Executive Director, Center for International Environmental Law; former Director, E.P.A. International Environmental Law Office
  • Julianne Malveaux, Ph.D., syndicated national columnist; editor, Voices of Vision: African American Women on the Issues
  • Manning Marable, Ph.D., Columbia University; Director, Institute for Research in African-American Studies
  • Gina Maranto, University of Miami; author, The Quest for Perfection: The Drive to Breed Better Humans
  • Richard Marker, D.D., Executive Vice-President, Samuel Bronfman Foundation
  • Luz Alvarez Martinez, Executive Director, National Latina Health Organization
  • Bill McKibben, author, The End of Nature
  • Everett Mendelsohn, Ph.D., Professor, History of Science and Technology, Harvard University; past President, International Council for Science Policy Studies
  • Rosario Isasi Morales, M.P.H., J.D., Boston University Department of Health Law; Global Lawyers and Physicians
  • Harry R. Moody, Ph.D, Director, Institute for Human Values in Aging
  • Jose F. Morales, Ph.D., Director, Public Interest Biotechnology
  • Robert K. Musil, Ph.D., M.P.H., Executive Director and CEO, Physicians for Social Responsibility
  • Christine McCullum, Ph.D., Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research, School of Public Health, University of Texas - Houston
  • Kay McVay, R.N., President, California Nurses Association*
  • Judy Norsigian, Executive Director and Co-founder, Boston Women's Health Book Collective*; co-author, Our Bodies, Ourselves.
  • David Olsen, Director, CEO, Coalition to Advance Sustainable Technology; former President and CEO, Patagonia, Inc.
  • John Passacantando, Executive Director, Greenpeace USA
  • Michele Perrault, International Vice-President, Sierra Club
  • Ron Pollack, J.D., Executive Director, Families USA
  • Catherine Porter, former Executive Director, Consultative Group on Biodiversity
  • Alvin F. Poussaint, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; Director, Judge Baker Children's Center Media Center
  • Ruth B. Purtillo, Ph.D., Director and Professor, Creighton University Center for Health Policy and Ethics
  • Carolyn Raffensperger, J.D., Executive Director, Science and Environmental Health Network
  • Mark Ritchie, President, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
  • Orlando Rodriguez, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology & Anthropology, Fordham University; former Director, Fordham Hispanic Research Center
  • Joel M. Roselin, M.T.S., Director of Public Programs, Department of Social Medicine, Division of Medical Ethics, Harvard University Medical School
  • Barbara Katz Rothman, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology, City University of New York; author, The Book of Life: A Personal and Ethical Guide to Race, Normality and the Implications of the Human Genome Project
  • Leonard Rubenstein, J.D., Executive Director, Physicians for Human Rights
  • Arlie Schardt, President, Environmental Media Services; former national press secretary, Al Gore for President (1987-88)
  • Alexandra E. Shields, Ph.D., Georgetown University Institute for Health Care Research and Policy
  • Evelyne Shuster, Ph.D., Adjunct Associate Professor of Philosophy, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania; Human Rights and Medical Ethics Program, Veterans Affairs Medical Center
  • Marjorie R. Sims, Executive Director, California Women's Law Center
  • Latonya Slack, J.D., Executive Director, California Black Women's Health Project
  • David H. Smith, Ph.D, Director, The Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics & American Institutions
  • Linda Tagliaferro, author, Genetic Engineering: Progress or Peril?
  • Casey Walker, author, Made Not Born; Editor & Publisher, Wild Duck Review
  • Alan Watahara, President and General Counsel, California Children's Lobby
  • Martin Waukazoo, Director, Native American Health Center
  • Jon Weil, Ph.D., former Director, Program in Genetic Counseling, University of California Berkeley; author, Psychosocial Genetic Counseling
  • Charles Weiner, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of History of Science and Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Alan J. Weisbard, J.D., Associate Professor of Law, Medical Ethics and Jewish Studies, University of Wisconsin
  • Adam Werbach, CEO, U.S. Sky Trust; former President, Sierra Club
  • David Winickoff, founder, Harvard University Law School Ethics, Law and Biotechnology Society
  • Susan Wright, Ph.D., University of Michigan; author, Molecular Politics
Names added after March 19 release:
  • Michael Black, Ph.D., Visiting Associate Professor of Political Science, Harvey Mudd College, Claremont, CA
  • Anne Donchin, Ph.D. Emerita Professor of Philosophy, Indiana University, Indianapolis
  • Maureen Sullivan, Ph.D, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Northern Illinois University
  • Carol C. Barford, Ph.D., Assistant Scientist, Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Joanne M. Carroll, Ph.D. Associate Professor, College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions, St. John's University, New York
  • Lynn Miller, Ph.D., Professor of Biology, Hampshire College
  • Dana Roth, D.V.M., AAAS Diplomacy Fellow
  • Michael J. Flower, Ph.D., Interdisciplinary Science Studies & Center for Science Education, Portland State University
  • Robert Dunn, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, California State University Hayward
  • Joseph S. Alper, Professor of Chemistry, University of Massachusetts - Boston
  • Giovanna Di Chiro, Assistant Professor of Environmental Science, Allegheny College
  • Blair Alpert-Sandler, Ph.D., Systems Coordinator, Greenbelt Alliance
  • Kathleen McAfee, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
  • Margaret Wooster, Executive Director, Great Lakes United
  • Joseph H. Therrien, Communications Consultant, Public Media Center
  • Rajani Bhatia, Coordinator, Committee on Women, Population and the Environment
  • Andrew Mushita, Director, Community Technology Development Trust
  • J.P. Harpignies, author, Double Helix Hubris: Against Designer Genes
  • Lorie Brillinger, NP, CNM, Member of Berkeley Community Health Commission Midwife Panel
  • Simon Harris, National Campaign Director, Organic Consumers Association
  • Francie Hornstein, LCSW, Perinatal Social Worker, Alta Bates Medical Center
  • Priscilla Ortiz, Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California Berkeley
  • Mark Mazziotti, Public Media Center
  • Christian Heath, Co-Director, GE Free Marin
  • Molly Beth Graber, Biology student, University of California Santa Cruz
  • Jason A. Delborne, Ph.D. candidate in Environmental Science, Policy, & Management, University of California Berkeley
  • Elizabeth Faust, Ph.D. student, Graduate School of Geography, Clark University
  • Maja Bergquist, student at College of Marin, CA
  • Wendy Botwin, M.A. candidate
  • Jacqueline Graham, MA, Ed., teacher of children and adults who have disabilities
  • Daniel B. Radov, M. Phil., Somerville, MA
  • William Aal, Global Economy Working Group, Church Council of Greater Seattle
  • Philip Paull, B.A., M.A., Coalition for a Democratic Pacifica
  • Action for Social and Ecological Justice (ASEJ)*
  • Karen L. Sadler, University of Pittsburgh
  • Dr. Robert Anderson, Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Genetics
  • Barbara Kami, Ellwood Commercial Real Estate
  • Bruce L. Chrisp - B.M., M.M., Professional Musician Lecturer of Trombone - University of California at Davis
  • Pete Shanks, Santa Cruz Action Network
  • Elaine Wang, Lori Richards, Michael Dickson; Jeffrey W. Pienack; Amy Wright; Karen Lohmann; Gary Roush; Jane Kimbrough; Kathleen Snyder; Carrie Durkee; Daniel Spelce; Nancy Rosa; Roland Kipke, MA; Bernadette Mullaney; Timothy P. Lannan Melanie McAfee; Diana Scott; Joe Sokolinsky

Names of supporters from outside the United States:

  • Laura Shanner, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Health Ethics, University of Alberta, Canada
  • Ricarda A. Steinbrecher, Ph.D., Director, Econexus*, UK
  • David Sanchez-Monroy, M.Sc., Ph.D., General Director, ISAT, Mexico
  • Thomas Schweiger, former Secretary General of European Campaign On Biotechnology Patents, Brussels, Belgium
  • Elizabeth Allan, B.Sc. Ph.D., Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Edinburgh, UK
  • David King, Ph.D., Coordinator, Human Genetics Alert*, London, UK
  • Abby Lippman, Professor, McGill University, Canada
  • E. E. Daniel, Ph.D., FRSC, University of Alberta, Canada
  • Sanjoy Mahajan, Ph.D., Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge, UK
  • Chris Goodey, Ph.D., Chair, Human Genetics Alert, London, UK
  • David King, MBBS, MPH, FRACGP, Lecturer, Centre for General Practice, University of Queensland, Queensland, Australia
  • James Moore, B.S., M.Div., Ph.D., Reader in History of Science and Technology, Open University, UK
  • Michael Antoniou, BA (Oxon), Ph.D., Senior Lecturer in Molecular Genetics, GKT School of Medicine, King's College, London, UK
  • Priscilla Alderson, Ph.D., Professor, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London, UK
  • T. Stainton, BSW, MSW, Ph.D., Co-Founder, International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual Disability, Ethics Special Interest Research Group, University of British Columbia, Canada and University of Wales, Swansea, UK
  • Regis M. Dunne, RSM, Research Ethics Consultant, Mater Medical Research Institute Brisbane, Australia; Member NHMRC Genetic and related Research Advisory Panel, Australia
  • Jerónimo Aguado Martínez, President, Plataforma Rural*, Spain
  • Joe Cummins, Professor emeritus of Genetics, University of Western Ontario, Canada
  • Konrad Knerr, Australian Ethical Investment Ltd.; Australian Ethical Superannuation Pty. Ltd.; Australian Ethical Superannuation Fund, Australia
  • Marion Selig, Vice President, People for Animal Rights*, Germany
  • Lotta Suter, science editor, WochenZeitung, Zurich, Switzerland
  • Maria Barile, MSW, Eco-Access, Montreal, Canada
  • Benoit Frappé, President, Parti de la Loi Naturelle*
  • Fabrizia Pratesi, Coordinator, Comitato Scientifico Antivivisezionista*, Italy
  • Maite Aristegi, General Secretary, Basque Farmers' Union, Spain
  • Helen Groome, M.Sc., Ph.D., technical advisor, Basque Farmers' Union, Spain