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The Lockhart Committee, established by the Federal Government to review Australia's 2002 legislation  banning human cloning and restricting embryo experimentation,  held    consultations last year  to  which members of  scientific and community organizations and interested individuals were invited. 

I attended one such meeting in Melbourne:   the participants  fell into two categories -   representatives of   medical-scientific  institutions  lobbying for   cloning and  unrestricted embryo experimentation, and representatives of pro-life groups,   expressing the view that cloning and destruction of embryos for stem cells  is an attack on human life and an affront to human dignity, besides being useless,   while  stem cells from ethical sources such as adult tissue and umbilical  cords are producing  treatments for a  range of diseases. 

There was a third group   whose plight was   poignant.  These were individuals suffering from serious diseases - a man in a wheel chair, another  with cystic fibrosis and two young women  who had such severe neurological conditions  they had difficulty speaking.  None of the scientists  had the fortitude to inform the  disabled  that there   would  be nothing from cloning or embryos to help them in the foreseeable future.    

Instead,  opponents of  cloning and embryo destruction  were depicted as "lacking in compassion".  Why can't scientists tell the disabled that embryonic stem cells cause tumours,   have   not cured anything and  there is nothing on the horizon, whereas stem cells from ethical sources have been effective in  treating over 65 different conditions?  The exploitation of   the disabled  like   Christopher Reeve and  Parkinson-sufferer, Michael  J. Fox,  is indefensible. 

Seoul National University has confirmed Hwang Woo Suk and associates had fabricated and manipulated evidence in his published papers, had never cloned a human embryo or created the claimed eleven embryonic cell lines.  Patients from around the world, lured by promised cures for spinal cord injuries, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and juvenile diabetes  had flocked to his laboratory  - more cruel exploitation of the ill. 

I once asked Professor Joel Brind  (Professor of Endocrinology, City University  New York)  in the context of the cover-up of the link between induced abortion and breast cancer, how scientists could tell such lies.  He replied: "These people are willing to kill small babies and  destroy human embryos.  Why is it surprising they tell a few lies?" 

The lies extend  beyond Dr. Hwang and his collaborators. There is the prestigious "peer-reviewed" journal which published  his work as authentic, there is the compliant media  which eulogized him  and overlooked the fact that to produce his cloned dog, Snuppy, over l,000 dog embryos were used.  For any human "treatment"  that would involve the destruction of human embryos on a mass scale.  Also overlooked  was the bribery and coercion of Korean women to provide eggs for Dr. Hwang.  

Dr Leon Kass, former  chairman of President Bush's Council on Bioethics, expressed his scorn for the legion of Dr Hwang's former supporters:  "Scientific fraud is always revolting .... but in this case, American scientists and the American media have been complicit in the fraud, because of their zeal in the politics of stem-cell and cloning research and their hostility to the Bush funding policy. Concerted efforts have been made these past five years to hype therapeutic cloning, including irresponsible promises of cures around the corner and 'personalized repair kits' for every degenerative disease. The need to support these wild claims and the desire to embarrass cloning opponents led to the accelerated publication of Dr Hwang's 'findings'... We even made him Exhibit A for the false claim that our moral scruples are causing American science to fall behind." 

This is  also the  false accusation leveled at opponents of  cloning and embryo experimentation in Australia   - that  we would fall behind in research, that our scientists would leave.... well let 'em.  Let's reserve taxpayers' funding for  ethical scientists and for ethical stem cell  treatments  which have the runs on the board,  and reject the Lockhart Recommendations which even  support animal-human hybrids.  Do we really need a "super" embryo combining  cells from Snuppy and  Dr. Hwang? 




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