Ethical views from Korea

I found an interesting article this morning in a Korean newspaper. In it, the interviewees discuss the freight train known as embryonic stem cell research. 

Last year, cloning pioneer Hwang Woo-suk stunned the world by replicating human somatic cells, a feat acclaimed by many as making a huge stride forward in the history of medical science.

Not everyone, however, saw the landmark research in a positive light. On the contrary, many remain apprehensive, wondering whether the finding will take us to utopia or it's opposite, dystopia.

The uncertainty is even more frustrating when we humans find ourselves seemingly unable to stop or control the technical drive.

The book Discussion is a record of conversations between two veteran scholars from different backgrounds, one from humanities and the other from biology, as they seek answers in this technocratic, but ethically anemic, society.

Although the article refers to Hwang's work, other labs are close to producing "embryos" from unfertilized eggs and adult DNA. Is it too late for interested people to stop the mad rush forward? Do we want to stop it? Look at the full article at http://times.hankooki.com/lpage/culture/200511/kt2005111820072210980.htm 

Geneforum's second interview with Insoo Hyun (the ethicist working with Hwang) on the ethical considerations of embryonic stem cell research and views of Koreans will be posted soon--watch for it.

Marie Godfrey, PhD

Genetizen's blog