Stanford's Plan a Violation of Ethics, Says Biogenetics Pioneer

Warning from a Member of Pontifical Academy for Life

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ROME, DEC. 15, 2002 ( Stanford University’s plan to establish a research center for “somatic cell nuclear transfer” prompted a world pioneer in biogenetics to assail the move as a violation of ethical principles.

Father Angelo Serra, a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said the university’s announcement last week signals its plan to clone human beings with the intent of destroying them for medical research.

Stanford’s new research center will be launched with a $12 million anonymous donation to the school.

“When there isn’t an ethical norm that indicates what is right and what is wrong, only the law intervenes and, at times, the latter is forced, as happens in this case,” Father Serra told the Italian newspaper Avvenire.

Some scientists say the Bush administration’s position on the matter might halt the research. But “in reality,” Father Serra said, “research on embryonic stem cells is far behind that which concentrates on stem cells of adult individuals.”

The first kind of research presents serious moral problems, as it implies the destruction of the human embryo, which contains “its destiny from the first day,” he said.

“The biotechnological enterprise Geron Company itself has acknowledged that it is difficult to work with them,” the priest added. “And last year’s experiment of the cloning of a human embryo, announced by Advanced Cell Technology, was a failure.”

Father Serra dismissed as “manipulation and propaganda” the hyped promises made about embryonic stem-cell research leading to cures for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

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