By Tamara L. Roleff

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We take knowledge to be power over nature, and we assume that it leads (almost) inevitably to human well-being. Ramsey was deeply suspicious of the Baconian vision. He sat, instead, at the feet of C. S. Lewis. Ramsey saw that technology always involves the power of some people over other people; it provides no remedy for greed, envy or pride, and can be co-opted into their service. Such an account of technology may have its epitome in cloning. The relationship of parents and children may be at stake in our response to the proposal to clone a human being.

Importantly, this myopic policy has never yielded enough organs to satisfy demand, nor is there any reason to expect that it ever will. The chronic failure to meet the annual demand for cadaveric organs has created a large and growing backlog of patients in need of transplantable organs. In 1987, there were 11,872 persons waiting for kidneys, 450 for livers, and 646 for hearts; by 1995 those numbers had grown to 29,238, 4,817, and 3,241, and there were 1,796 persons waiting for lungs. Moreover, this backlog (or waiting list) has recently begun to expand at an increasing rate as organ demand has continued to grow at an accelerated pace while organ supply has remained approximately constant.

By employing this technique, scientists may be able to clone endangered species in order to delay or prevent extinction, or study the processes of mammalian development to investigate the potential for organ regeneration and repair, or discover the mechanisms controlling mammalian gene activation so that genes inappropriately turned on or off in cancer may be reset to their normal levels of activity. Another possibility is the application of this technique to the cloning of humans. It is this startling possibility that has been the focus of much of the recent public discussion.

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