Communications Department

Does “research cloning” create a human embryo?

May 7, 2002 | Killing Embryos

In the recent past, some of those who support the cloning of human embryos have sought to persuade the media to stop using the term “embryo.” This is an intellectually dishonest exercise. Many scientific authorities including the National Institutes of Health, President Clinton’s bioethics panel, and leading cloning researchers have long acknowledged that somatic cell nuclear transfer is indeed A cloning” and will indeed produce a “human embryo.”

A sampling of those authorities — including citations from an article by leading U.S. cloning researchers in the Journal of the American Medical Association — are collected on the NRLC website at On April 25, 2002, Dr. John Gearhart of Johns Hopkins University, one of the discoverers of human embryonic stem cells and a supporter of human cloning for research, told the President’s Council on Bioethics he thinks the product of cloning is and should be called an “embryo.”

He said: “I know that you are grappling with this [question of whether a cloned embryo created in the lab is the same thing as an embryo produced by egg and sperm, and whether we should call it an “embryo” ], but anything that you construct at this point in time that has the properties of those structures to me is an embryo, and we should not be changing vocabulary at this point in time. It doesn’ t change some of the ethical issues involved.”

Some pro-cloners have also claimed that using somatic cell nuclear transfer for A research” is not really “cloning” at all, and argue that the term “cloning” should be reserved for cases in which the embryo is allowed to develop to birth. Observing these evasions, the magazine New Scientist deplored such “shifty” tactics in an editorial in its Feb. 23, 2002 issue, and concluded, A Here at New Scientist we will continue to call a clone a clone.”

Categories: Killing Embryos