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"Thou shalt not clone"15.03.2006 - (idw) Max-Delbrück-Centrum für Molekulare Medizin (MDC) Berlin-Buch
"The arbitrary production of a genetically identical person (i.e., reproductive cloning) is ethically reprehensible because the egoism of the clone generator restricts the clone's autonomy and should, therefore, be prohibited", stresses Dr. Christof Tannert, head of the research group Bioethics and Science Communications at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch in a viewpoint just published in the EMBO reports (Vol. 7, No. 3, 2006, pp238-240)*. Self-determination, autonomy of an individual is an essential part of the definition of being human, the biologist and theologian continues, referring to the philosopher Immanuel Kant and his Categorical Imperative: "Act that you use humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, always at the same time as an end, never merely as a means".
On the other hand, according to Dr. Tannert, "therapeutic or research cloning" would be ethically permissible because it is not carried out to create a person genetically identical to the donor of the cell nucleus and therefore does not violate Kant's ethical maxim. Therapeutic cloning could even be viewed as a moral necessity if it is done for the development of future therapies and if the development of a "quasi-embryo" into a human being is strictly prohibited. A "quasi-embryo", according to Dr. Tannert's definition, has been created through in-vitro-fertilisation (IVF) methods or cell nucleus transfer and is not to be implanted into the uterus. As the headline for his commentary, for which the EMBO-reports invited him, Dr. Tannert uses old English Church language in order to reference the "Thou shalt not" commands of the Hebraic Bible and their historical impact.
Since 2002, Dr. Tannert leads the research group Bioethics and Science Communications at the MDC with a focus on stem cell research. Among many activities, he has published a widely recognized Delphi Study on the future of stem cell research in Germany, organized a Citizen's Conference on the ethical impacts of stem cell research, and organized an international symposium on "Regenerative Medicine and Biopolitics", presenting the different regulations for research on human embryos in Europe which was published as a book in 2005
*Thou shalt not clone An ethical argument against the reproductive cloning of humans
EMBO reports, Vol 7, No 3, 2006, European Molecular Biology Organization
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