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Spawn of Frankenstein

by Oak Sunday, Dec. 29, 2002 at 4:35 PM
Planet Earth

Welcome to the 21st century, where man remakes God in his own image. Herr Frankenstein would be pleased.

Those would be creators lurking deep in their dungeons are growing bolder by the day. No longer content being sequestered in their hellish cloning labs, obsessed with the nightmare of becoming the first to manufacture human life, they have now ventured out into cyberspace (not to mention REAL space) to ply their evil trade. The consequences of their actions, both known and yet to be discovered, are profoundly disturbing. The question is: will the angry townspeople march on the castle and burn it to the ground?

A past issue of Genewatch (the Bulletin of Council for Responsible Genetics) directed this angry townsman to various websites where the heirs of Dr. Victor Frankenstein publicly extol the “virtues” of human cloning. Welcome to the 21st century, where man remakes God in his own image. Herr Frankenstein would be pleased.

At Clonaid they seem pleased enough. Pure science means pure profit and their recently defunct website used to bubble over with bullish babble about the money to be made in the monster market. Now, they claim to have achieved their goal <http://www.globalchange.com/clonaid.htm>, but the capitalistic rhetoric appears to have been replaced with a more “humanitarian” party line. Perhaps equally frightening to today’s announcement of a successful human clone (whether true or not), is the existence of the Human Cloning Foundation (HCF) < http://www.humancloning.org/> where the black art is promoted on pages with such intriguing titles as “All the reasons why we should clone human beings” or “Cloning the Human Race”. There’s even “Resources for Students”, which might be helpful to Junior in his efforts to clone the family dog or goldfish. HCF used to have a “DNA Storage Kit” available on their website; the first baby-step towards immortality. Make no mistake; immortality is what HCF is all about. If you have any doubts checkout Dr. Richard G. Seed (Was he really born with that name? In fact, was he really born??). By way of introduction, let me point out that Seed was the guy who announced his full intention to become the first to clone a human being during the wake of the public controversy over “Dolly”, the cloned sheep. Dr. Seed allegedly raised $15 million and bought land on Hokkaido Island in northern Japan (not to be confused with the Island of Dr. Moreau, of course). Supposedly, the facility opened in the summer of 1999 for infertile couples wishing to populate the world with little replicas of themselves. Since Seed’s earlier announcement, other would-be Frankensteins like Italian doctor Severino Antinori, who claimed a woman was carrying a human clone that would be born this January, as well as former University of Kentucky professor Panos Zavos has also announced plans to clone a human.

The HCF web page devoted to Dr. Seed is apparently some kind of vindication for the public bashing he took in the media following his announcement. Angry townspeople will find all his contact information there. While HCF was quick to distance itself from Seed at the outset, it goes on to glean points from Seed’s writings. Here we find that “cloning is a legitimate treatment of infertility” and that “cloning can be used to replace a lost loved one.” Hard to believe? How about, “human cloning can take a 65-year old and turn the age of that person back to zero.” Would you rather skip the baby stuff? Well, go for this: “…in the future we can turn the age of the 65 year-old back to 25!” All right! Party forever!!

This kind of madness makes old Ponce DeLeon seem mild by comparison. The search for the Fountain of Youth is no longer a bizarre dream. By the way, one of the former principles at Advanced Cell Technologies (ACT) in Worcester, Massachusetts, the folks who cloned a set of matching cows, is actually named Ponce DeLeon. Where do they get these names?! Today, sociopaths like Richard Seed and the team at Clonaid are busily engaged in the work of turning that dream…a..nightmare, into reality.

So, what are the consequences of this vulgar technology? With regard to morality, the most obvious is the gut reaction most people have toward a process that defies some of the major tenets of all major religions and most human ethics. It was this repulsion on which Mary Shelly based her novel, “Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus”: humanity shouldering the mantle of the gods and screwing up royally. There are some things we are simply not supposed to do, and our minds and bodies tell us instinctually. People are, for the most part, repelled at the thought of creating human life artificially. Of course, given our lame propensity to be so utterly human-centric, the artificial creation of non-humans produces a much tamer response. Hence, we failed to witness much negative feedback to the 276 “failed” lambs that preceded Dolly. We fail to hear news reports on the morality of creating bio-factories for human drugs (cows or other animals that dispense genetically altered medicinal milk for human consumption) or pigs and mice that might generate human organ replacements. Nor do we here what might result if these inheritors of the horrors of Dr. Moreau were to escape into the biosphere and integrate into native populations.

The public reaction to failures in human cloning will no doubt be much louder. Already, it’s reported that “five babies that were spontaneously terminated during the first few weeks of pregnancy” in Clonaid’s alleged creation. This is truly ghastly stuff, like The Brave New World realized. How many deformed and sterile human clones will scientists create in their mad quest to become Creators? How long will it be before a super-race, separate from humanity, unable and unwilling to interact with us, will begin tearing the social fabric that took countless centuries to form? Brave New World? More like a world gone mad.

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