April 2002


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NEWMAN STUART <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 17 Apr 2002 15:33:22 -0400
text/plain (108 lines)
Thank you for this thoughtful message.  I helped write and circulate the
"Rifkin petition" (and also the Council for Responsible Genetics positions).
I sent the following letter to the American Prospect after reading the
disgraceful piece by Chris Mooney:

To the Editor:

I was one of the drafters of the petition calling for a ban on both
reproductive and experimental cloning that garnered 68 signatures of
left-of-center writers and activists, which was discussed by Chris Mooney in
his article "Sins of Petition: How the left got tricked into opposing cloned
embryo research" (TAP 5:6:02). I suppose this means, therefore, that Mooney
considers me one of the tricksters. Not being a "media-savvy technophobe"
as Mooney unfairly characterizes the petition's principal author, Jeremy
(I am actually a working biologist), I tried to reconstruct how I
contributed to
pulling the wool over the eyes of those who have told Mooney that they now
regret signing the petition. Mooney identified a few people who have also
signed another petition that calls for a "moratorium" rather than a "ban" on
cloning. He has found a few people who have rethought their position. He
has found someone who regrets signing the petition because he doesn't like
other groups who agree with it. He has even found someone who doesn't
remember signing it. What he hasn't found is anyone who claims to have been
"tricked" by the original document.

Mooney does, however, attempt to adduce evidence for the deception scenario.
He notes that the second, "moratorium," petition decries lack of "societal
controls" on cloning, and states that this is "misinformed," since according
to University Wisconsin bioethicist R. Alta Charo "in 1997 [sic] the Food
and Drug Administration (FDA) asserted its authority to regulate
reproductive cloning and announced it was forbidden." But when the FDA
promulgated this interpretation in late 1998 most commentators agreed that
it had exceeded its jurisdiction and that the policy would never hold up in
court. After the FDA sent a warning last year to two groups who claimed to
be at the point of cloning humans, this same R. Alta Charo asked in a
Washington Post story (May 23, 2001), "Can the government really stop me
from cloning myself? Right now, the law is clear as mud." Mooney states
that in contrast to differences on legislation concerning embryo cloning,
"Republicans and Democrats alike want to prevent the birth of cloned
 babies." But this is what Charo said in answer to the Washington Post
reporter's question on how the Supreme Court would be likely to decide a
challenge to a human cloning ban: "If they were interested in protecting a
broad notion of genetic connection to the next generation, then cloning
might be included as a fundamental right."

So, while Mooney is correct that some tricking is going on, it appears that
it is Mooney himself who has been tricked.

                                                Stuart A. Newman
                                                Professor of Cell Biology
and Anatomy
                                                New York Medical College
                                                Valhalla, NY 10595

Stuart A. Newman, Ph.D.
Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy
Basic Science Building
New York Medical College
Valhalla, NY 10595

Tel: (914) 594-4048
Fax: (914) 594-4653
E-mail: [log in to unmask]

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Sang-Hyun Kim [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> Sent: Wednesday, April 17, 2002 2:54 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Fw: How the left got tricked into opposing cloned embryo
> research???
> I've just read Chris Mooney's piece in the American Prospect
> (see below).
> Well.. I do understand why many American liberals fear the
> religious right's
> campaign against biomedical sciences. But that the right-wing
> groups support
> a comprehensive ban on cloning research does not
> automatically translate
> into that any similar strong stances on cloining research (whether
> reproductive or therapeutic) must also be conservative and absurd. The
> CRG(Council for Responsible Genetics)'s statements on embryo
> research and
> human germline manipulation, for instance, are perfectly
> reasonable to me,
> and I cannot find a single reason why the positions such
> these should be
> labeled as 'conservative' or 'tricked'. If there's a problem,
> I think it is
> rather that many progressives and liberals have not paid much
> attention to
> democratic politics of science & technology and have in many cases
> uncritically sided with the developers/funders of new
> technologies. BTW, did
> Rifkin's petition really have serious defects?
> -----------------------------------------------------