"It's become the Wild West out there, with each state doing what it pleases," says Steven Teitelbaum of Washington University in St. Louis, who has lobbied for changes in the Bush administration policy. "We have nothing that assures the research will be done ethically--laws should be passed on this." Others, including Caplan, believe that international treaties will be necessary to head off concerns over egg sales. One danger is that without oversight, nations may pull away from the international stem cell exchange and cooperative research altogether. "If there are differences in standards, countries could turn isolationist," Colman says.
That slowdown is certain to occur in at least one arena. After seeing how Gerald Schatten of the University of Pittsburgh, a senior co-author who purportedly played a minor role in Hwang's experiments, was carried along in the downward spiral, Moreno says, "people will think twice about collaborating." Potential co-authors of the future may painstakingly assess a project before consenting to give their names--and journals may be pressed to monitor more carefully the contributions of all involved. As for scientific relations with South Korea specifically, Snyder reports that "some of our philanthropic support sent a message: essentially, 'Don't work with the Koreans.' They have no problems with the field, but the Koreans are radioactive now."
Changes there may have to start from the ground up, where the culture is "saturated with distorted patriotism and ultra-nationalism," wrote one Seoul National University professor in a Korea Herald editorial. Some even predict a pendulum shift in the way science is conducted. "We'll see very strict regulation set up in Korea," Caplan speculates. "They'll overemphasize high standards."
For all the questions raised by the offenses, many in the business hope that the public can simply home in on the true offender: Hwang himself. Scientists doubt that the man's reputation will ever recover, because "he had every opportunity to come clean, but he went on blaming other people," Colman points out. Ultimately, Moreno asserts, "this is not about profound questions or about ethical line crossing for research. It's about something we can all agree on: we shouldn't lie."