News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Snuppy the cloned puppy should drive U.S. research

If Americans fearful of man's hubris had won the day in the race to space, there would still be astronauts circling the globe. They just wouldn't be American astronauts.

Wednesday's announcement that a South Korean scientist cloned a dog is a reminder that the same holds true for genetic research. We need to be at the forefront of genetic research.

Senate Majority Leader and surgeon Bill Frist, R-Tenn., showed considerable moxie last week when he opposed President Bush's strict limitations on stem-cell research. His focus is on the human misery from Parkinson's Disease, Alz-heimer's disease and even cancer that aggressive genetic research could avoid.

The South Korean cloning success reminds us of another reason to keep America in the forefront of genetic research. As with space travel, our only opportunity to shape the direction of genetic research is to be at its cutting edge.

But for the successful U.S. scramble to catch up with the Soviet Union's space program, how would space be different? U.S. satellites now designed to maintain the peace might instead carry Soviet and Chinese weaponry.

Because we aggressively pursued the space program, we understand its potential. We can read the signs when other nations endeavor to use space as an international weapon rather than as a tool for peaceful social progress.

Just as space travel was inevitable whether or not the United States engaged in it, cloning and stem-cell research will progress even if we are on the sidelines. In addition to the cloned dog, scientists have cloned sheep, mice, cows, goats, pigs, rabbits and a mule.

As with any scientific advance, genetic research can be an agent for good or for evil. We can direct the research away from unethical or murderous goals only if we recognize its potential and know the signs of genetic research with hostile intent, be it the creation of biological weapons or Xeroxed soldiers.

As Snuppy the cloned puppy attests, President Bush's restrictions will not stop cloning or embryonic research.

They will merely deprive the United States of the opportunity to direct that research away from malicious goals.

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