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Cloning brothers together

This is no longer a fantasy of sick minds and sleepy cult leaders, now even the most serious scientists are devoting time and energy to researching cloning technology

Vared Kellner, Maariv, illustration: Batia Colton

(Maariv, 3/4/04)
Last week, the Knesset extended the law prohibiting human cloning for another five years, in a decision that leaves researchers with the option of continuing to work quietly, and at least temporarily calms the many opponents of this amazing revolution, but the road to human cloning is already paved. In the meantime only sheep can say to each other 'good morning', at the end of the road we can too

There is no debate about one thing: the moment of the appearance of cloning in the history of mankind, somewhere in 97', is a sharp turning point. A point of no return, what was before it will not be after it. Because contrary to what one might think, the cloning is not a strange episode that only the newspapers enjoy having fun with the wild possibilities it promises. The cloning is really a strange episode with wild possibilities. So forget "Blade Runner" and say hello to "Fateful Memory". The real action today happens in the laboratory and not in the fevered minds of science fiction screenwriters.
But that's it. This is where the agreement ends and the bickering begins, which, as is the way of bickering in the world of science, is conducted with pursed lips and the jargon of experts (except in exceptional cases, where the scientists or philosophers also get out of hand). On the one hand we are warned that if the scientists continue to run amok in the laboratories, the human race will change its face and the social fabric will completely disintegrate. On the other hand, the scientists warn that if the research is stopped, humanity will lose one of the vibrating tools of progress, which is not only a theoretical achievement, but a tangible means of bringing a little more health to the world.

In the middle, in between, all those involved in cloning wrestle with countless exciting and thought-provoking questions: To what extent is our destiny dictated by our genetic inheritance? Where is the freedom of choice? What will happen to humanity if a man and a woman are no longer needed to give birth to a child? What will happen to the family model, who knows what will prosper anyway? Where is the line between the legitimate race for health and the obsession with genetic modification? What would happen to us if we could program our children to be not only smarter, but also blonder?

But these are not just the kind of questions that youth movement instructors enjoy shocking their frightened trainees with. Cloning also raises a series of prosaic questions, which also entail quite a few question marks from the realms of ethics. Is it allowed to produce an embryo for research purposes? Can a two-week-old block of cells grown in a dish even be considered a human being? Where will the scientists get all the eggs required for the research? Who exactly will finance all this? And more worrying: who will benefit from the tremendous achievements that this research promises to bring to us?

Members of the Knesset's science committee and its guests tried to answer some of the questions in recent months, as part of the discussion tract on the Law Prohibiting Genetic Intervention (Human Cloning and Genetic Modification of Reproductive Cells), which passed second and third reading in the Knesset last Monday. The new law actually came to continue a previous law, passed by Hagai Marom in 98, when cloning was still in its infancy.

The old law stated that human cloning for reproductive purposes must be prohibited for five years. Five years passed, the law expired, and the debate resumed at full volume. In the end it was decided to extend the temporary ban for another five years. Because who knows where we will be in 2009. " it does not say
that the State of Israel is in favor of cloning for reproductive purposes," clarifies Attorney Gali Ben-Or, from the Consulting and Legislation Department at the Ministry of Justice, "not exactly that the State of Israel is against cloning, but when it enacts laws that concern limitations on science, it does so very carefully." To be sure, the parties in the debate will use the time to stock up on ammunition and dig deeper into their positions.

Low success rates
On July 5, 96, Dolly came into the world. Six plus pounds of mutton for everything. Seven months later, after being researched and tested, Dolly also came to the attention of the entire world, as the first cloned creature. The team of researchers from the Rosslyn Institute near Edinburgh, Scotland, reported in the journal "Nature" about their achievement, and aroused the astonishment of their colleagues. Since then, cloning has become the obsession of many scientists, more or less serious, who tried to clone animals from different animals, but encountered disappointing success rates. Human cloning is not currently on the agenda.
Despite some impressive successes, the odds of success fluctuate from one in 200 on a good day to one in 300 on a slightly cloudier day. That might not be too bad when it comes to mice, but it leaves human cloning completely out of the question. Besides, although statistically it is still too early to determine, it seems that the animals that have been cloned to date (sheep, goats, mice, pigs, rabbits and cows) suffer from many defects.

If so, why do scientists insist on moving forward on the cloning route? For several reasons. They are sure that the technology will improve and improve, and hope that the success rates will improve. But even if not, human cloning is not the be-all and end-all, in their opinion. The way there is just as important. That's why scientists draw a clear line between cloning for reproductive purposes (which today the only ones who are seriously talking about are charlatans and whimsical cults), and between cloning for stem cell research purposes.

In '98 another breakthrough took place, but unlike Dolly, it is a little less photogenic, and therefore does not enjoy resounding public relations. A team of researchers from Wisconsin took embryos (two to three days old) created by in vitro fertilization, whose parents no longer needed them and therefore donated them to research, and produced from those embryos the first line of embryonic stem cells. These are cells that can develop into any cell and any tissue, and therefore, in principle, cells can be produced from them for transplantation purposes.

Last month another group of researchers entered the waiting list for the Nobel Prize, this time from South Korea, who managed to produce stem cells from cloned human embryos (and not from "surplus" embryos as in the paragraph above). They used the cloning technique, created an embryo and two weeks later produced a line of stem cells from it. The excited scientists explain that perfecting the technique will allow finding a cure for some of the most serious diseases, such as Parkinson's, cancer, diabetes, heart failure and more. The advantage of research on cloned embryos, they clarify, is the production of stem cells that will contain the patient's genetic load, and therefore, when implanted in his body, will not be rejected as a foreign agent.

"If we want," explains Prof. Yosef Itzkovitz, head of the women's department at Rambam Hospital, "we can, for example, take a cell from a juvenile diabetes patient, produce embryonic stem cells from it, from which we hope we can produce insulin-secreting cells, which we can plant in the patient's body without them being rejected . Or everyone will prepare his own line of embryonic stem cells, which will match him genetically. Then if it turns out that he has Parkinson's disease, we can take his cells and make cells from them for transplantation. This is not science fiction. This is an example of what this technology can lead to."

Prof. Binyamin Raubinoff, Director of the Fetal Stem Cell Research Center in the Department of Gynecology and the Institute for Genetic Therapy in Hadassah Ein Kerem: "In my opinion, the main advantage is the production of stem cells from people suffering from all kinds of diseases. For example, if we take a patient's cell
diabetes, we will create a cloned embryo from it, from which we will extract embryonic stem cells, and let them differentiate into pancreatic cells, we will be able to obtain a pancreatic cell from a diabetic patient, study it and develop a drug." Itzkovits: "This is a revolution that can change the face of a generation."

Germans are sensitive
But before changing the face of the generation, the Israeli scientists have to cross several high to medium height hurdles. Basically, the situation in Israel is not bad at all. Research on stem cells from surplus embryos is being conducted successfully at Hadassah Ein Kerem and Rambam, and is relatively generously supported by the state. This is not obvious. As you know, in the United States the situation is completely different. President George W. Bush, a born-again Christian, not only opposes abortion, he also turned off the tap on stem cell research. According to his method, as according to the Catholic method, an embryo is a person from the moment of fertilization, therefore any damage to the life potential in it is a "moral error".
Another front against research in stem cells (excess or cloned embryos) is being fortified in Germany. The Germans, probably because of the historical baggage in everything related to experiments on humans, developed a hypersensitivity to the subject. Abortion is allowed there by law, but the production of stem cells is considered a violation of human dignity. Other countries, squinting towards Germany, are often afraid to violate the moral code of the new Germans. The result is a strange coalition of opponents of cloning (even for research purposes) that includes on the one hand religious-fundamentalist bodies, and on the other hand human rights organizations in their updated and green version. A bit like the coalition of opponents of pornography.
But according to the local cloning opponents, this whole debate remains on the sidelines when it comes to Israel. According to Dr. Carmel Shalu, a jurist and ethicist from the Gartner Institute, the open approach of Jewish law to cloning lowers the threshold of resistance to floor height. And besides, she adds, the joy of Israeli fertility also disrupts judgment. As the in vitro fertilization treatments are gaining extraordinary popularity here, there is no stopping us from fantasizing about other ways to improve the demographic situation.

"All over the world, the bioethical debate takes place under the very broad umbrella of the lessons we learned from the Nazis," says Shalu. "The entire regime of the Helsinki Committee, which oversees experiments on humans, was built on the basis of the lessons learned from the Holocaust. But in Israel there is a very rude attitude in my opinion, which says: 'Okay, we understand why the Germans are careful, but we Jews will do what we want and no one will tell us what to do.' Specifically in Israel we should have given more respect to this history and be all the more careful, and remember that human dignity is sharp. I would like the democratic Jewish state to be the first to recognize that scientific curiosity must have limits."

Scientists who hear his get chills. "People who are not involved in research think that the current situation is the permanent situation," explains Itzkovitz. "But the first two heart transplant surgeries also ended in the death of the patients. Imagine if the research had stopped. Those who oppose the research do not understand that when it comes to such great news, it is appropriate to move forward while arguing. What can I tell you, if they oppose stem cell research, then let them not engage in it. But when we find a cure for some disease, let them not bother standing in line to receive it."

What are Dr. Carmel Shalev and her friends afraid of? The list is long. Their main claim is that with all due respect to scientists (and they don't have many), competition and personal ambition are the ones that drive them forward, and therefore they ignore all the enormous dangers inherent in their research. What begins as a project with many good intentions, opponents warn, may end in tears. This is the argument known as the "slippery slope". It means that if we don't stop the research now, we will still end up with human cloning.

"This is what happened when they first split the atomic nucleus," says Dr. Ovadia Ezra, from the Department of Philosophy at Tel Aviv University, "I don't know how good the intentions were back then. The truth was to defeat Hitler, but they used the bomb after Hitler was no longer there. When you come to crossroads with fateful decisions, you have to take into account the worst results and minimize damages."

Nuclear research also brought quite a few good things.

"This is true only if it can be determined with certainty that a nuclear bomb will never reach al-Qaeda or crazy countries. The potential for destruction brought with it by nuclear weapons overshadows any imaginable advantage. The very threat makes the whole thing a mistake."

What do you fear about cloning?

"Cloning may result in us positing a person's biological features as the defining features of their being. As soon as we attribute greater weight to the physiological traits than the other traits, we reverse the hierarchy in the definition of the person. Until today, intelligence and spiritual qualities have been perceived as distinguishing him from other biological creatures, in the sense that 'man is allowed from the beast'. Overturning the hierarchy will put us in front of a different moral reality."

Why can't we look at cloning as an elaborate incarnation of in vitro fertilization?

"Because in vitro fertilization can develop into a very large variety of human lives. Cloning deliberately dictates all the physical features of a person in advance. You can of course say that every fertilization dictates the physical features of the child, but in normal fertilization there is randomness. In cloning, we determine in advance all the physical features of the embryo".

Shalev adds: "As soon as we control the genetic makeup of the embryo, we are undermining the very infrastructure of equality between humans, because we are creating designer-designee relationships. A cloned child also knows that he is a duplicate of an existing person, and this closes his options for an open future. This is a violation of a person's basic right to know that his life is his life."

A dream or nightmare
Proponents of cloning know that their opponents' claims have considerable potential to create hysteria. The common images of a chain of Hitlers or replicated Bin Ladens are easier for the masses to digest than abstract photographs of a ball of cells on a petri dish. According to them, the opponents of cloning are busy creating panic out of nothing. Not every technology has to end in catastrophe for humanity.
Prof. Avraham Steinberg, pediatric neurologist and director of the Medical Ethics Unit at Shaare Zedek Medical Center: "Will we stop all development because of our fear of bad results? After all, even planes can get into the hands of al-Qaeda, and any technology can be misused. We had one Hiroshima, and it never happened again. Even the most feared countries in the world, which have nuclear weapons, such as North Korea, did not do Hiroshima again. It is impossible to threaten every technology, because otherwise we will be sitting in a village with a horse and cart. This concern is typical of the initial discussion in any development.

"Human cloning should not be banned in a comprehensive and complete way, because from a moral-essential point of view there is no inherent evil in human cloning. The objections to human cloning on the part of various parties arise either from a Catholic perception (legitimate for Catholics, but not binding for others) that sees the creation of a human being outside of the way of nature as a fundamental evil, or because of various concerns, most of which are imaginary, without a reasonable basis."

"History shows that human curiosity cannot be stopped," adds Dr. Vardit Ravitzky, a researcher in the Department of Clinical Bioethics and the National Institute for Genetic Research, "on the other hand, history also shows that when big mistakes are made, we strive to correct them. For example, from the XNUMXs-XNUMXs to the XNUMXs-XNUMXs, a study was conducted in a small town in the southern United States, during which poor and primitive black farmers were followed to trace the development of syphilis. Over time, penicillin was discovered and the researchers could give them the drug, but withheld it from them to see how the disease developed. Today their descendants receive compensation from the government.
"At a certain point the medical community came to their senses, realized that there was a terrible moral error here, and created oversight mechanisms. Without regulation we cannot do anything. The extremists call to stop all research because of the fear of the slippery slope. I say that you need to draw a clear line between what is appropriate and what is not. If cloning can lead to the development of a cure for Alzheimer's, then let's find a cure without cloning humans."

Ravitzky claims that the technological phobia is supported by the media and even the language each of the parties chooses to use: "An extreme Catholic will say that removing the cells from the fetus is murder. A biologist will say: I am dissecting the blastocyst, which is the exact word to describe this stage of human life." She explains that the premise that underlies the concerns of cloning opponents stems from a view of genetic determinism. "If they think that someone who is genetically identical to me will live my life again, that means they believe that everything is decided by the genes. Such an approach, in my opinion, reduces human complexity to the level of DNA. Only on the basis of such an assumption can it be claimed that two genetically identical people are the same person. After all, if I clone myself and another person is born genetically identical to me, he will not be me. He won't have my memory or my relationships. In what sense will he be me? ".

Prof. Michel Rebel, from the department of molecular genetics at the Weizmann Institute, who himself sits on several bioethics committees, is calm: "Technological progress does not rob us of the beauty of life. I'm not afraid of over-instrumentation. If the clone can help a couple who today are unable to give birth to a healthy child, then I don't see it as wrong. But if the goal is to produce a superman or revive a duplicate of a child who was killed, I will explain to the parents that the child may be similar to his brother, but his character will be different. Even if we are talking about cloning Claudia Schiffer, it is worth remembering that beauty is not only genetics. If someone neglects her figure, the genes will not help her."

And where will the egg come from?
The questions about cloning for reproductive purposes, everyone admits, are mostly a theoretical game for the time being. The real war centers on cloning for research purposes. The last battle was commanded by Itzkowitz, who submitted to the Helsinki High Commission a request to clone embryos in order to extract stem cells from them. According to the existing law this should not be a problem, but Itzkowitz did not specify in his research proposal where he would obtain eggs from. The members of the committee sent him to the improvement section, and he decided to withdraw the offer in the meantime.
Beneath the seemingly matter-of-fact conduct of Itzkowitz and the members of the committee, the real debate was bubbling. Dr. Shalu, one of the members of the Helsinki Committee, and Prof. Hagit Maser-Yeron, a lecturer in electrical engineering at Tel Aviv University and who served as chief scientist at the Ministry of Science until a year ago, agreed that because of the scientific chatter, no one remembered to ask how the eggs would arrive for research. And what is the price that women have to pay to provide scientists with the research raw material thanks to which they will achieve international fame for themselves.

"The cloned embryo is created from a fresh egg," Masriron says, "which means that the woman has to undergo fertilization treatments, which are invasive treatments. It's more like donating a kidney than donating sperm." Shalev adds: "Itzkovitz's proposal is a classic example of ignoring women. He said in general that he would obtain eggs from here and there, he did not explain how he intended to obtain the consent of the women. When I asked him what the clinical protocol was regarding hormonal stimulation in fertility treatment, he replied that at Rambam Hospital they do not have a protocol for an acceptable hormonal dose. This is a scandal. It is impossible that there are no clinical standards regarding what is acceptable."

What do you think is behind it?

"Insensitivity. What drives the scientific establishment in Israel is the tremendous economic potential in the global biotechnological market."

Itzkovits: "There is a group of people who want to lead legislation that will ban cloning. These are feminists or women who pretend to be feminists, alongside ethicists who oppose technology. They have a problem joining the choir that sings songs of praise for developments in the field, because if they join they will not be heard, so they stand aside and look for something to shout about.

"The apparently feminist arguments insult the intelligence of women in my opinion. After all, no one asked to transfer women to fertility treatments for the purpose of research. I asked to use eggs from another source. For example, excess eggs that were pumped and then it turned out that there was no sperm for the husband, so instead of throwing them away, they can be transferred for clinical use to another woman. There are women who do not want to donate for clinical use, but are ready to transfer the egg for research use. We also proposed to take eggs from women undergoing oophorectomy, or during gynecological surgeries, immature eggs can be extracted in a simple process that does not prolong the surgery and does not put women at risk. We just need their consent."
But even this does not reassure Messer-Yeron, who fears that the improvement of technology for the purpose of research will also serve those who fantasize about cloning for the purpose of reproduction. "If I stop cloning for research purposes, what am I harming? ", insists Maser-Yeron, "after all, all the research on embryos can be done on excess embryos as well."

But cells extracted from excess embryos may be rejected at the time of implantation.
"True, but we are very far from that anyway. When that's the only problem, I'll agree to the study. But going on an adventure that has risks? Better wait. In the meantime, we will create oversight mechanisms."

Itzkovits: "I don't believe it. She sits scientists down and gives them a research plan? She does not understand that these are two different technologies. What is the advantage of producing insulin-secreting cells, if as soon as we want to transplant them they will be rejected? We don't want to waste time. We want to work on things at the same time. Stopping the research is an injustice."

Raubinoff was also called out: "One of the important uses of cloning is not only to prevent rejection, but also in the production of cells for disease research. And if we crack the processes that happen during reprogramming, we may be able to isolate the factors that cause the process and we won't need eggs at all."

In Rebel's opinion, legislation and science simply do not go together. "In 94, France passed a law in the parliament on various issues of biotechnology, and since then they have been busy amending the law again and again. This process is very disrespectful. In most bioethical questions, a decision has to be reached in each case. A harsh law is not suitable for the field because of the rate of development of science".

Shelov insists: "I want it to be written in the law that you do not create an embryo for research purposes. that excess embryos be used. It's not that I think an embryo is a sacred thing, I support the right to abortion, but it is wrong to create an embryo for the purpose of research."

But there are clear advantages to cloned embryos.

"The applications are in the far future, and besides there are also anti-rejection drugs."

So where do you draw the line?
Another complaint of the cloning opponents is the lack of serious public discussion on the issue. "The reverence shown by scientists is often misused," asserts Messer-Yeron. "There is no public discussion and this is very convenient for the scientific community. It's not that they make Frankensteins in the basements, but on the other hand there is no transparency either. Not only scientists are allowed to express opinions. The consumers of science, their right and duty to be involved and express their position on issues of value".
" what does she want? Itzkovits protests again, "There are many committees that have sat on the matter, and quite a few meetings as well. What, she wants to do a poll at the end of a Maccabi Yad Eliyahu game? Or maybe in Uncle Topaz's show? She's just rambling. What is a public hearing? Our research is open and transparent, and we work in public institutions that are conducted transparently."

Dr. Noah Efron, from the History and Philosophy of Science program at Bar Ilan University, jumps between the hawks with impressive moderation. On the one hand, it bothers him that no one pays a moment to the social consequences of cloning, on the other hand, he admits that as a parent of children, he is unable to stop research that has the possibility of curing diseases. So he hesitates out loud, and also asks to hear the opinion of others, for example regarding the lines of stem cells that were produced in Israel and sold last year to Germany.

"No one here has bothered to ask if it is appropriate to transfer stem cells for profit," Efron begins, "the very fact that we are moving to a situation where we are industrializing the production of human biological material without thinking about the consequences of industrialization, this systematically lowers the value of human material. Before we jump into mass production, we should think about whether there is a difference between exporting something that has the potential to be a person, and a product like a television or a car. As a society we have to decide who is allowed to profit from this, who is allowed to buy, who owns these developments, what we are willing to register patents on and what will belong to the whole society. I'm not in favor of stopping research, but I think as a society we need to regulate everything related to cloning. Egg pumping to research funding".

Is there anyone in the scientific establishment who would disagree with that?

"Yes. There is a philosophical gulf between what I propose and what most scientists want. The scientists want forums through which they can explain to the public why cloning is not scary, and how calculated and safe it is. Many people connect cloning, gene enhancement and the Nazis, and scientists think, and rightly so, that this is ridiculous and that it is important to explain the truth. But the public discussion that the scientists want is actually information, and not really a discussion."

Another question, which Efron believes should bother the public, is the limits of genetic modification. "We can intervene through stem cells and change the genetic structure of a baby in a way that will affect, for example, his height," Efron explains, "this will be a way to treat people who are extremely short, but it can also be done just for someone whose parents want him to be a basketball player. In the same way, it is possible to treat obesity as well."

That's great, isn't it?

"The question is where do you draw the line between essential medicine and ameliorative medicine. These are practical ethical questions. Who receives treatments? Who finances them? Is it covered by the health insurance fund or not? Who decides how to distribute these treatments fairly? There are things that only the rich can afford. And what about genetic correction that will also affect future generations? Then people with money will be able to improve their genetics, and the result will be that the rich will be taller and more beautiful. This will determine existing gaps, and we will see how a socio-economic gap will manifest itself in physical changes."

"The worst scenario is that the cloning will create two human species," asserts Shalu. "If we allow the private market to continue its actions, we will find ourselves in a world where some people will live to be 120 with organs to replace, and the rest of the people will live to be 45 and die of malaria or AIDS. The health needs of the world are very great. There is no money to give malaria medicine to children in Africa. So the need for cloning is completely marginal. It's time to set priorities in research, and not leave it to the pharmaceutical companies."

Steinberg also agrees that as a means of reproduction, cloning is a bottomless investment pit, and mostly unnecessary. "If cloning had no use other than human reproduction, then it should have been banned just because of the waste of resources," he says, "but since cloning technology has a tremendous future use, I support the continuation of the research."

"My problem with the members of the opposition to cloning is not that their argument lacks weight," Ravitzky concludes. Their arguments are important and should be heard. What is problematic to me is the jump from the arguments to the assertion that the entire study is invalid and immoral."

How it actually works
To explain what cloning is, there is no choice but to go back to some basic terms. Each cell in our body has 46 chromosomes, except for the reproductive cells (sperm and egg), which have to make do with 23 chromosomes each. A normal connection between them should result in genetic mixing between the charge on the back of the sperm and the charge in the egg, and the creation of a new person. The recipe for creating life with the help of cloning includes slightly different ingredients. Or to be honest, the seed becomes unnecessary in him.

Here is the recipe: take an egg and remove its nucleus, which contains all its genetic information (those 23 chromosomes). You currently have an empty life production factory. Set aside. Take a mature cell (a skin cell, or any other cell, with 46 chromosomes) and insert its genetic cargo into the empty egg, then, with the help of electrical stimulation, you will cause two essential things: one, the deletion of the programming of the mature cell, so that at the end of the process the skin cell will forget That he was ever like that, and he will return to serve as a genetic archive open to anyone who wants it. Two, the egg and the cell will start to divide into more and more cells, just like in normal egg fertilization. If you implant this block of cells in a woman's uterus, there is a chance (so far not too great) that at the end of the pregnancy you will get a living creature that is a genetic twin of the adult cell donor.

One tenenbaum will return Ron Arad, and the other will make his home
The matter of genetic cloning is foreign to me in general, this is part of a general trend of abstaining from projects with a mystical-messianic appeal, characterized by long and foreign words, and always linked to complicated and translated articles with multiple slash links and subtitles. Even after a careful study of Prof. Michel Rebel's detailed and easy-to-read article, which, according to the best tradition of academic manipulation, managed to convince me that genetic cloning of the entire population of India is nothing more than a simple gynecological operation, the likes of which are performed every day thousands all over the world, I still prefer, in a way Moser, a nurse who comes out of the delivery room and announces to the chain-smoking father about the gender, weight, and condition of the mother.

What's more, after the Honorable Minister of Health, Danny Noah, announced to the people of Israel that he was donating his organs, and after one of the wittiest among the columnists was quick to announce that he wanted the Honorable Minister's brain, my eyes were opened. I suddenly realized that by giving a chance to research and development, it would be possible to turn life in Israel into heaven on earth.

Below are ten human clones immediately available in Israel, which will make our lives better:
1. Danny Neve, Minister of Health. One will manage the complex office, the second will distribute organ and DNA donations that will generally improve the Semitic race and bring honor to the country.
2. David Levy. Maybe the other one will do something.
3. Sharon Ayalon. Why shouldn't the plot continue in a two-track way: one stays with Yoav and we'll see where it develops, the second separates from him and goes to Odette's chef. In ten seasons it will be possible to bring the two together in a special end-of-season special, and then surprising things happen.
4. The Minister of Finance. Actually there is already one. No?
5. Delic Volinitz. At the same time, in each cluster of advertisements, one lit against the fish cages, and right after that, it turns out I was wrong. Not hotter?
6. Adam Baruch. The second will try to explain what the first wants. But where the hell do you get another casket, my dear?
7. Yigal Tomarkin. Just to be happier.
8. Zeev Rosenstein. to confuse Abergel.
9. Elhanan Tannenbaum. One will return Ron Arad and the other will make his home.
10. Yossi Beilin. One will lead the peace process as if there is no terrorism, and one will fight terrorism as if there is no peace process.

Kobi Arieli

"And if at the age of 20 the girl will look like a mother at the same age. How will the husband feel?"
Even if progress towards cloning is being made in careful tango steps, one forward, two back, there is still concern that various aspects of the new technology are not being taken into account. The main one is the effect on the family structure. After all, in the cloning technique, the child is a genetic copy of only one of the parents. How will this affect the relationship between the two? What will be the role of the other parent? Who will be the grandparents?

Prof. Michel Rebel is not moved: "When there is a difference of 20 or 30 years between them, the son will not be so similar to his father. Someone from the outside will not be able to know that it is a clone. The same concerns have also been raised regarding in vitro fertilization. In 81 I was at a conference in the Vatican and the majority of opinions were that it would negate the value of the family and destroy the bond between a child and his parents. All kinds of things that didn't come true."

Dr. Verdit Ravitsky actually admits that the arguments coming from the cloning psychology department are the only ones that have any weight. "Let's assume that a woman becomes pregnant and carries in her womb a child who is her genetic copy. What will happen when the girl reaches the age of 20 and looks exactly like her mother looked at that age? What will the woman's husband do? How will he feel? It may sound a bit twisted, but I have heard people at scientific conferences dealing with this question.

"Another question concerns a child who is a genetic copy of his father and grows up with the expectations of developing the same tendencies in life. A bit like a doctor father expects his son to also study medicine. What mental pressure will the child have to recreate the father's life? These are troubling questions, but they are not entirely new. As soon as you start playing with the form of procreation, questions arise about the relationships within the family."

For example, one of the concerns is that because of cloning there will be no more need for men.

"I still recommend keeping a few men as pets, even if we don't need their sperm," Rabitzki smiles.

Rebel is ready to take the challenge seriously: "The reason for a relationship is not only reproduction. It would be very sad if a couple lived together just to have children. There are enough couples who live together without children and get along quite well."

"If it is allowed to marry two gays, what is the problem with cloning?"
Prof. Avraham Steinberg, author of a halachic-medical encyclopedia, believes that as long as cloning does not become a tool for mass reproduction, there is no cause for concern. "And even if it is, I don't understand why it worries the enlightened public, who find no problem with a single-parent or same-sex family. If two homosexuals or two lesbians are willing to marry, what's the problem with cloning? Steinberg asks. "But in any case the use of cloning will be so rare that the ethical question in my opinion is whether it is worth spending so much money on it."

From a halachic point of view, says Steinberg, there will be several questions that the arbitrators will be required to find an answer to. For example, until today the father was defined in Judaism as the sperm donor. Can a person who donates a skin cell also be considered a father? And what about a girl who is a clone of her mother? Will she be "silent" (a halachic term for a child born without knowing who the father is)? "In my opinion, she won't be silent, because she simply doesn't have a father, so she won't be prevented from getting married," states Steinberg. "In the case of the father who donated a cell, in my opinion he is the father, because if he donates sperm, which is half of the genetic load, he is the father, so it is easier if he donated all the genetic load."


Remember that we are not God

By David Golinkin, Haaretz, 21/4/04

The Jewish sources provide more convincing arguments against genetic cloning than in favor of it

About a month ago, the Knesset passed the "Prohibition of Genetic Intervention Law" which extends by five years the ban on human cloning. Prof. Michel Rebel, who supports cloning, claimed that his position coincides with "Israeli-Jewish ethics" - "The Politics of Cloning", by Tamara Traubman ("Haaretz", 9.4). However, Judaism has not yet formulated a clear position on the issue. Genetic cloning of humans will raise many halachic and moral questions: who is the mother of the fetus - the donor of the egg shell, the donor of the cell (if it is a woman) or the surrogate mother, or all three? Who is the father - the cell donor, or does he not have a father? And maybe the child is the twin brother of the cell donor? Is it permissible to clone a person without his knowledge? Is it allowed to clone a deceased person? Does the cell donor observe the mitzvah pro verbo? Is it permissible to give birth to a cloned baby to provide bone marrow to a person suffering from leukemia?

Even though our sources did not explicitly discuss genetic cloning, there are sources, according to which it is possible to allow genetic cloning of humans: Rabbi Israel Lipshitz stated in the 19th century, "Anything that we do not know a reason for prohibiting is permissible is pointless." According to this approach, cloning is allowed as long as there is no specific reason to prohibit it.

According to the Book of Genesis, Eve was created from Adam's rib without sexual intercourse. Is it permissible to imitate God by genetic cloning?

The Meiri stated in his commentary to the Talmud in the 14th century, that "everything that is done by natural action is not magic at all, they even knew how to create beautiful creatures that do not mate the sex as it is known in the books of nature that this is not avoided." If so, it is apparently permissible to clone a person "by natural action".

Finally, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach stated in 1958 that artificial insemination by a donor should not be prohibited, provided that there is medical supervision to prevent mischief, that one should not "prohibit what is permissible for kosher and good people because of reckless and frivolous". According to this, if cloning itself is allowed, kosher people should not be prohibited just because of the fear that it will be misused by evildoers.

On the other hand, there are sources according to which it is possible to prohibit human cloning: Rabbi Kook warned that when humans perfect nature they have an "obligation to be careful not to destroy nature". That is, we must ask before any medical experiment, if the benefit outweighs the harm.

The Jewish ideal is "there are three partners in man: God, his father and his mother" (Nida, XNUMX page XNUMX). There are rulings that allow artificial insemination - by the husband, or a foreign donor - artificial insemination for an unmarried woman; test tube baby; Surrogate mother and genetic cloning, as long as this is not explicitly forbidden in the Talmud, on the grounds that everything must be done to bring children into the world. However, rabbis and doctors emphasized that the moral and social side of these actions should not be ignored. Having children is not a goal in itself in Judaism, especially when it is done outside of marriage. The result of these medical operations is the separation of the newborn from the couple and the acceleration of the dissolution of the Jewish family.

Genetic cloning makes it possible to create many "copies" of the same person. This trend is contrary to both the Sage sources, which praise God for creating human beings who are different from each other in appearance and mind (Mishna Sanhedrin Chapter XNUMX, Mishna XNUMX), ​​and the biological need for genetic diversity.

Humans were created in the image of God, but we are not God. We have to keep this in mind when we experiment with genetic cloning. In the Mishna Pesachim (chapter XNUMX, Mishna XNUMX) it is said that King Hezekiah "stored a book of medicine" and that the sages of his time "thanked him" for this. Rambam interprets that the book of medicine was a double-edged sword with which it was possible to harm and heal, "and when people were corrupted and killed in it - they were put away". Bill Joy, the chief scientist of "San Microsystems", argued in a similar spirit that the only alternative is to give up: to limit the development of technologies that are too dangerous by limiting our involvement in certain fields of knowledge.

It seems that the arguments against cloning are more convincing than the arguments in favor. That is why the Knesset did well when it decided to extend the ban on human cloning. The new law states that an "advisory committee" must be established to submit a report to the Minister of Science and the Knesset's Science Committee regarding genetic experiments on humans. The committee must include rabbis, theologians, doctors and lawyers, and not just scientists. The State of Israel must press international authorities to ban human cloning worldwide, until it is decided otherwise. And who will, and we will learn to use science and technology for the benefit of humanity.

Rabbi Prof. Golinkin is the president of the Schechter Institute for Jewish Studies in Jerusalem and the chairman of the Halacha Committee of the Knesset of Rabbis in Israel

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