THE ETHICS OF STEM CELL RESEARCH

In December 2009, the Obama administration approved Iederal Iunding Ior the use oI human
embryos in human embryonic stem cell research. These new embryonic stem cells, derived Irom
human embryos that had not already been used in embryonic research, means that
the U.S. government is using taxpayer money Ior the destruction oI human embryos and their use
in human embryonic stem cell research and experimentation, something the Bush administration
had previously denied the use oI Iederal Iunds Ior.
The new approval and the guidelines established that allow Ior this use, opens the door Ior a
large expansion in human embryonic stem cell research and experimentation using the $10
billion dollars that the NIH received as part oI the economic stimulus program Ior embryonic
stem cell research. What has disturbingly not been addressed by the current administration is the
reason and the purpose Ior the human embryonic stem cell research and experimentation.
There is little controversy over the use oI adult stem cells Ior human disease. By most reports,
adult stem cells are considered as eIIective, iI not more eIIective, Ior genetic therapy Ior human
diseases. However, there has been less Iocus on the use oI adult stem cells and the development
oI gene therapies based on these adult stem cells Ior human disease than the Iocus on embryonic
stem cell research and experimentation.
The use oI human embryonic stem cells in research and experimentation is more
controversial, not only because oI the destruction oI human embryos that is involved in stem cell
research and experimentation, but also because oI what some oI the human embryonic stem cells
are being used Ior in research and experimentation.
One example oI the disturbing use oI human embryos and human embryonic stem cells Ior
research and experimentation involves trans-species research and experimentation programs.
This research and experimentation in the creation oI trans-species involves the crossing oI
human genetic components with other species is ongoing and includes a large number oI
research and experimentation programs around the world.
At the same time there is a great deal oI comparative species embryonic stem cell research. This
is not iust the study and research oI human embryos Ior human embryonic research, but the study
and research on the embryos oI other species and also 'comparative research¨ that compares the
similarities and ways in which the embryos are 'like each other¨. This is occurring at the same
time that there is research into what causes 'diIIerentiation¨ between the diIIerent species in
embryonic development and what might be used to overcome these barriers.
There has been little oversight or involvement by governments over this speciIic research and
most genetic research and experimentation. One oI the Iew examples oI the involvement oI
governments in this research has been hearings in Britain in the last Iew years over the ongoing
trans-species research and experimentation and what can be considered acceptable. (1) The
hearings in the British Parliament were inadequate and disturbing, leading to discussions oI at
what percentage oI human genetic components could still be considered human. It resulted in no
more oversight, nor any valid reasons proIIered Ior why this type oI research and
experimentation should be occurring at all. (2)
The creation oI trans-species human - animal embryos is in and oI itselI genocide at the most
basic level oI what we as human beings as a species are. This is also the case with other species
as well. To be doing this research and experimentation Ior no massively important reason is
disturbing and a breaching oI the intrinsic morality and ethics oI what rights and powers we have
to alter human beings as a species, as well as other species Ior no discernibly valid reason.
Embryonic stem cell research and experimentation is not only occurring in human beings but
in a wide variety oI species, including most other primates and Ior no valid reason. There is also
much cross species embryonic stem cell research and experimentation between human beings
and other primate species occurring, again certainly Ior no valid reason.
At the same time, there is genomic research to map the genomes not only oI human beings as
a species, but Ior a large number oI other species, again Ior no discernible or valid reason, and
not being done Ior an application to animal health.
And Iinally, there is much research being done in cloning, and cloning technology, again on a
large number oI species, including human beings. There is absolutely no valid reason at all Ior
this research and experimentation, particularly in terms oI health oI the species, in Iact the
opposite is true, with cloning resulting in genetic problems in the cloned animals and again with
no iustiIiable reason Ior cloning to be done.
These three technologies together allow Ior the creation oI trans-species; with the use oI the
malleability oI embryonic cells oI the diIIerent species allowing Ior cross species creation,
something that adult cells oI humans and other species does not allow Ior; the genomic mapping
that contains inIormation on the genes oI the diIIerent species; and cloning which allows Ior
reproduction through unnatural means, which is really only useIul Ior trans-species reproduction,
where reproduction cannot occur naturally.
Very disturbingly, there has also been the creation oI transgenic primates, using human genes
in other primates. In 2009, Japanese researchers transIerred a human gene into a marmoset and
then were able to have the marmoset reproduce carrying the human gene into the marmoset
oIIspring, creating a transgenic primate. There was no valid purpose Ior the research other than
to introduce human genes into another mammal and then try to have it reproduce with the human
gene. This type oI research and other types oI stem cell and genetic research that lacks any
applicability to human health, is unethical and crosses all boundaries oI what is acceptable
research and an acceptable use oI human genes, and human embryos, and the use oI both
humans and animals as species. (3)





1. http://iournals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?IromPage÷online&aid÷6159776&I
ulltextType÷RA&IileId÷S1745855209990020
2. http://www.york.ac.uk/res/sci/events/TranspeciesEmbryoDebate.pdI
3. http://www.nature.com/news/2009/090527/Iull/459492a.html




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