Cloning Turns a Human Being Into "Industrial Material," Warns Adviser

Bishop Sgreccia Comments on Reported Experiment by Scientists

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 13, 2004 (Zenit.org).- A papal adviser says the news of the cloning of a human embryo by South Korean scientists signals a desire to make industrial material out of human beings.



The experiment of scientists of the Seoul National University, headed by professor Woo Suk Hwang, appears in the review Science and was presented Thursday at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, in Seattle, Washington.

For Bishop Elio Sgreccia, vice president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, "from the ethical point of view this supposed 'therapeutic' cloning is doubly illicit."

"In the first place, cloning has a procedure that goes against nature and, in the second, it eliminates the cloned embryo," the bishop said on Vatican Radio.

"Therefore, if it is already something monstrous to clone a person -- to make a photocopy according to our will; it is even more so to eliminate the embryo to make therapeutic use of it," he added.

"This is a therapeutic step that, scientifically, has not been demonstrated yet," he warned. "There is no proof that all this will be good for something."

"On the contrary, there is evidence that to cure these illnesses, stem cells taken from adults or the umbilical cord are valid and sufficient," said the bishop, who is also director of the Bioethics Center of the University of the Sacred Heart in Rome.

"Insistence on this path of so-called therapeutic cloning, with 'amazing' ends, conveys the idea that it is a political battle. That is, there is a desire to attain freedom to do whatever one wishes with the human embryo from the industrial point of view," he said.

From the moral point of view, no form of human cloning can be justified. It is "asexual reproduction," he said. The cloned human being lacks a father or a mother, since it comes from the genetic code of only one individual, the bishop added.

"This desire to control the total constitution of a human individual is, in itself, immoral," he stressed.

Scientists who carried out the cloning experiment say they are using it as a means to seek cures for now-incurable illnesses. This leads some people to accuse the Church, and others who oppose cloning, of "obscurantism," the bishop said.

"It is a really false accusation for, as I was saying, there are still few resources to cure these illnesses, but they certainly don't come from embryos' cells," he said.

"Until now the techniques that have given good results have been so with the use adult stem cells," Bishop Sgreccia observed.

"There are political interests of those who, enlarging this type of achievement, seek to create expectations among people to awaken goodness-knows-what-type-of-hope. When this is done in an unfounded manner it is deceit," the bishop concluded.