Below are a collection of past polls relating to human cloning and a small selection of the letters we have received so far in response to the article The First Human Cloned Embryo. Additional letterswith replies from the article's authorswill appear in the weeks to come.

Past Polls

November 26, 2001

Should therapeutic cloning be legal?




Total: 11165 votes

August 6, 2001

Should the government fund
embryonic stem cell research?




Total: 6685 votes

July 23, 2001

Should scientists pursue human cloning?




Total: 6024 votes

Letters to the Editor

Keep up the wonderful work!The excitement of cloning human cells is intoxicating.Your devotion and commitment to understanding the world we live in and to making it better for ourselves and our children is truly heroic.

If the face of those who would see your work discontinued and humanity thrown back into the dark ages, you persevere.As we look back today to those brave scientists who went before--those who were willing to risk all that the truth would come out--we see that it is not easy to forge into new areas without fear and lack of understanding from those who don't have your vision.

In my book, above all the policemen and fire- fighters of the world, the committed scientist stands as our worthiest hero.Not all you do is appreciated in your time--but it will be...and you will one day be recognized for your very important contribution to improving the conditions we humans live in.

I, for one, would like to thank you.

Glenda Taylor
no address given

I believe that this article was very informative and you did a great job reporting it.On the other hand, I do not agree with this issue.I believe that human cloning is morally wrong.I think the scientist BELIEVE they are doing this for the betterment of human kind, but they are killing babies for "spare parts."

In my opinion, if stem cells were taken from the umbilical cord of all infants born (with the parents' consent) tested, put in a registry, and with the permission of the parents, given to a person that could die from an illness. I believe that most Americans would do what they could if they could save a life. For example, look back to September 11, 2001 and all of the coming together that happened in the United States. I, a low income single mother, took a day off work to stand in line for 4 hours to give blood. I also sent a full check to the Red Cross and the firefighters fund in New York. If my son was not ill and I was asked permission to use my sons stem cells, I would gladly do it and so would most Americans. Life is Life and Murder is Murder, no matter how you look at it.

Joan Ireland
Traverse City, Mich.

I have been a reader of Scientific American for many years. Over the years, the articles have ranged in quality from good to excellent. However, the present article on cloning represents a departure from SA's tradition. Cloning is a controversial subject and you have not contributed to the public understanding by publishing (and promoting) such a shoddy piece of work.

This country is full of serious scientists who struggle every day to conduct their research (without an eye to profit) in an atmosphere of (mostly) benign public ignorance. Why not invite them to educate the public in this difficult subject? The public and (worse yet) our politicians have no choice but to react in a knee-jerk manner when a publication such as yours publishes an article by "scientists" who are out to raise money for their company.

When the New York Times jumped the gun on angiogenesis, it paid dearly and eventually cleaned up its act. Hopefully Scientific American will do so too. In the mean time, I suggest your editors attend a developmental biology course at one of the first class universities in this country. A little learning could improve the situation.

BK Jensen
no address given

In the name of science, your organization is contributing to the notion that human beings are no more valuable a junk car used to collect replacement automobile parts.All the social ills of our civilization can be traced back to human beings not being treated as such.Is there no way to carry out research and cure human ills that does not involve the artificial creation and destruction of human life?

Joe Mercurio,
Nashua, N.H.

I knew that the announcement of the first cloned human embryos would provoke howls of protest from the usual crowd of religious fanatics and bureaucrats. These people make no distinction between therapeutic and reproductive cloning and what little they know of this branch of science comes from comic book fantasies involving clones of Hitler or monsters. No doubt they will rabidly attack proponents of biotechnology and demand a moratorium on cloning of any kind. And these are the people who would be first in line for any new medical treatment derived from therapeutic cloning. Always searching for a cure-all for their ailments and aging bodies, they throw a fit when someone actually tries to do something about it.

There is more to this than simple opposition to cloning, however. Many branches of science are now under attack. Evolutionary biologists are being ridiculed for promoting the heretical idea that the Earth is older than 6,000 years. Paleontologists are under fire from environmentalists that say digging fossils harms the planet. Space science programs are being gutted with massive budget cuts that are transferring resources from "frivolous" projects (studying our universe, improving our lives) to the more worthy enterprises of developing invasive surveillance technology and deadlier weapons.

People who are not scientists and who do not understand the motivation behind science are nevertheless in charge of our planet and the impetuous decisions they make will resonate through us all. Aside from the CD players and other hedonistic gadgets science provides them, they have little use for it. Scientists are asked to do the most and receive the least. All other influential groups in this world have active labor unions--why not scientists and students of science? Just as others strike to demand attention and better treatment, so should the scientists and technicians. If for only one month scientists quit making vaccines, stopped refining oil and ceased to operate the communications systems everyone take for granted then perhaps people would realize that we are the backbone of humanity and stop treating us like second-class citizens and beasts of burden.

I am not in favor of taking such desperate actions (yet) but the situation is serious and will continue to deteriorate unless we unite and make a stand. The slogan "United We Stand" that has become so popular since 9-11 and used primarily by American political patriots should also be the philosophy of supporters of science and non-destructive technology. No matter what the specific discipline, I fear the anti-science fanatics will eventually go after us all.

Paul La Mont
no address given

Therapeutic cloning - a procedure semantically wrapped in good 'feeling' words - entails the destruction of human life in order to extend the life of older, diseased humans. The spin of the authors, who have attempted to couch their work in altruistic and humanely sensitive words, and to diminish the unpopular and politically snubbed procedures of 'embryonic cloning', hardly hide the abhorrent and cruel methodologies employed.

Parthenogenesis, a form of reproduction in which an unfertilized egg develops into a new individual, is truly a misnomer in the case of therapeutic cloning. The egg does not develop into a new individual. Its stem cells are collected. It is killed.

Some of us in the community believe that the seed of human life is precious and invaluable when those forces within it are set into motion to create a being - a being much like you or me in every way. To use that being to manufacture the parts for another human, already here and undergoing serious entropic processes of disease and aging, is absolutely unbelievable.

Management at GM's auto manufacturing complexes know full well they would not produce factory fresh and complete automobiles to supply the parts to rejuvenate old, worn out previous models. Why do some medical research groups believe newly created lives should be destroyed in order to supply parts for old, worn out previous models? I believe many share my view that these procedures and their purposes border upon madness.

Finally, the world was chilled by stories such as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Are we voyeristically watching blastocysts' destruction as stem cell research creates a remarkably similar horror?

Don Kennedy
Lake Wylie, S.C.

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