An impressive list of environmental groups and individuals, spiced with feminists and various professional and semi-pro manifesto signers, has endorsed a campaign led by Friends of the Earth for new laws against human cloning. The campaign opposes both sorts of cloning: not just “reproductive” cloning aimed at producing fully-formed human beings, but also “therapeutic” cloning of embryos for use in medical research and treatment.
Most of the anti-cloning liberals and enviros do not believe in human rights for embryos. So, why do they want your mother to suffer needlessly? It is because of their “deep regard for the natural world” and “respect for nature” and “the interdependence of humans and our natural world” and the “precautionary principle” of “regard for the consequences of our actions” and so on. The only argument these folks offer against therapeutic cloningbeyond poetical cliches and vague luddismis the slippery slope: Therapeutic cloning may lead to the other kind which may lead to genetic manipulation of the human race.
But it ought to take more than semi-coherent blather about some “precautionary principle” to stop a potential miracle in its tracks. On balance, after weighing the arguments on both sides, I think I’d just as soon not give my life for alliteration.
As Kinsley points out, anti-cloning environmentalists are harder to stomach than anti-cloning religious conservatives. Religious conservatives have a somewhat tenable position, albeit based upon a premise that I find completely loony. Environmentalists don’t even have a premise. That have only a vague, wishy-washy feeling of unease about possible impacts to the natural world. These are the same groups that get worked up over engineered crops and just about anything else involving the application of human intellect to the physical world. As an engineer and avid consumer of the neat shit that people create, I don’t want to outlaw engineering and applied science. As a past and future beneficiary of medical science, I don’t want to impede the progress of research that holds so much promise. As a sensitive fellow who cares about people, I choose to pursue a possible medical breaktrough that could save many lives and better the human condition rather than to back down so as to avoid a possible slight to mother nature by daring to use our sentient intellect on our own behalf.