Volume 95, Issue 50

Thursday, November 29, 2001
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Study targets AIDS infection

Geeks get organized

Afghan refugee horror

Less housing available in London

Profs: complication clouds cloning

Study: 7.3 per cent drink and drive

New hate crime office to open in London

News Briefs

Profs: complication clouds cloning

By Ryan Dixon
Gazette Staff

The contentious issue of cloning is once again at the forefront of ethical and biological debates.

Such debate has only intensified with the announcement of the first "successful" cloned human embryo by Advanced Cell Technology of Worcester, Massachusetts.

Gerald Kidder, a member of Western's physiology department, explained the distinction between two types of cloning, which, he said, is essential to understanding the cloning debate.

Reproductive cloning involves the creation of entire humans, whereas therapeutic cloning focuses on the creation of cells that could potentially cure disease and illness, he said.

Kidder said he feels therapeutic cloning could be a major asset in the future.

"I think therapeutic cloning has huge potential to cure a variety of diseases," he said, adding any rewards from therapeutic cloning are not likely to be reaped for five to 10 years.

Kidder said he is in no way an advocate of the route reproductive cloning would run and said he was confident most people would concur with his opinion.

"It's a ridiculous way to solve infertility," he said.

Reverend Elisabeth Geertsma, an Anglican Chaplain at Western, also expressed concern over the potential effects of cloning.

"My first reaction as a woman was this makes the role of women obsolete," Geertsma said, adding the views she expressed were her own and the Anglican Church has not taken an official stance on the matter.

Geertsma went on to say cloning could take one of two paths.

"Like everything, there seems to be good and bad. I can see the potential for use, but I'm not sure we could stop the people who would abuse it," she said.

Samantha Brennan, an associate professor in Western's philosophy department, expressed some of the same concerns.

"I think there are two [potential reactions from society] depending on whether or not you like the idea. The positive side is that it could offer help for people with diseases we can't cure," she said.

"The other side is when people do it to eliminate imperfections. That's when it can be dangerous. You get instances where people will want to create perfect children," Brennan said.

Kevin Leco, another member of Western's physiology department, said he does not foresee the day when reproductive cloning will be an everyday occurrence.

"I don't think it will ever happen in the Western Hemisphere. If it happens, it will be some company with an off-shore lab somewhere. It's just not ethically acceptable to clone a human baby here," he said.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001