Cloning for profit and propaganda

Posted: Nov 27, 2001 12:00 AM

November 26, 2001

From: Frank N. Stein

To: Top Boss

In re: Cloning for Profit and Progress

Dear Sir or Madam:

In line with the Campaign's security policies and in deference to your wish to remain out of the publicity glare, I am forwarding this progress report through the usual back channels.

The news is splendid: The Campaign for Cloning for Profit and Progress is all proceeding according to the master plan. U.S. News swallowed our bait, hook, line and sinker: "The First Human Clone" screamed the headline, and then -- get this -- "Scientists Have Finally Cloned a Human Embryo." Could any one headline sum up more blatantly, er, succinctly the message we here at the Campaign have been seeking so diligently, and may I say in the face of certain most inconvenient facts, to promote?

It is not just the complete absence of moral blather, those thoroughly irritating doubts novices sometimes raise about manufacturing human embryos for commercial purposes -- no, no. The essential talking points (you may have seen a version in the fab press release issued by Advanced Cell Technology) are all here: The FIRST -- Americans love firsts. And LIFESAVING -- doesn't get more noble than that, eh?

The Wall Street Journal chimed in on the key point -- success, sweet dollar-sign-producing success -- by telling the business community, "Stem-Cell Researchers Make Cloned Embryos of a Living Human ... Reaching the 6-Cell Stage."

Six cells from one! Now that's what I call making lemons of lemonade. Stories like these will be sure to help keep those venture capital dollars flowing the right direction, eh, boss?

One caveat: Could you do something about Dr. West, the head of Advanced Cell Technology Inc.? Despite our best efforts to keep him on board, he cannot seem to keep his mouth shut -- in public! -- about the "benefits and pitfalls," as the WSJ puts it, of "genetically engineering the human species." That's therapy! Therapy, good doctor, not genetic engineering! Words are so much more important than facts. As a scientist, poor fellow, he has a hard time grasping certain truths.

Another minor failure: The House voted this summer to ban all human cloning. A very bad sign indeed, except fortunately there are lots of aging senators intensely interested in the benefits of therapeutic -- such a nice word! -- cloning. Our operatives have managed to persuade key elites that consuming human young is their only hope for a fountain of life and health. And besides, embryos don't make campaign contributions, do they? (chuckle)

One dark cloud, boss: The New York Times, usually so easily distracted, has unaccountably latched onto the facts.

Our experiment in therapeutic human cloning was, as you know, an utter debacle. All the humans cloned died before we could even turn them into little, profit-making stem-cell factories. "It's a complete failure," Dr. George Sedel, that so-called cloning expert at Colorado State University, had the nerve to tell the NYT. And they even had the gall to report we paid young women up to $5,000 to give us eggs to experiment upon. (Memo to self: Are the release forms iron-clad? Wouldn't want some creative litigators accusing us of misleading impressionable young ladies, would we?) (NB: Check state laws for future reference. Here in Massachusetts, I am sure, there is no problem, but is donating one's potential child for the purpose of killing it and using its flesh prosecutable as a form of child abandonment? With these six-cell babies, it's hard to see any legal risk, but when we reach the organ-harvesting stage, well, best be prepared. Thank you-know-who for Roe! No pun intended! (tee-hee))

But heck, who pays attention to that old gray lady any more anyway! Whichever operative wrote the Advanced Cell Technology press release was really first-rate. Our dead clones "provide the first proof that reprogrammed cells can supply tissues for transplantation."

Brilliant! Brilliant! Next time, can we at least clone him?