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A Brave New World?

How does fetal farming fit into the embryonic stem cell/cloning picture?

You are about to enter a brave new world envisioned by scientists in which human embryos will be allowed to develop indefinitely in artificial wombs to serve as organ and tissue “farms.”

Research using frozen embryos created from in vitro fertilization which are supposedly “going to be destroyed” anyway is only a stepping stone to creation and use of cloned human embryos for research and in treatments. Advocates of using clones for treatment purposes initially indicated they would grow human embryos only until 14 days of age. However, 14 days is a temporary age limitation set for political purposes that is quickly being abandoned.

Embryonic stem cells have not been put into a human person because the cells are immature and unstable. Embryonic stem cells grow rapidly and tend to form tumors, making them dangerous to put into a person.

If scientists allow the embryo to develop in the natural state in a mother’s womb or an artificial womb environment, the cells mature and become – adult! Scientists would allow the embryo/fetus to reach a certain stage of development – maybe four to five months or later — and then pluck out a kidney or a heart or brain tissue, knowing that the developing human child will be destroyed in the process.

Sound far fetched?

Some scientists are already conducting such experiments using humans and animals:

  • Research is advancing rapidly in perfecting an artificial womb with predictions of a fully-functioning artificial womb capable of gestating a human fetus being available in five to ten years.
  • In June 2005, Dr. Robert Lanza and other researchers at Advanced Cell Technology in Massachusetts published a paper reporting that they created cloned cow embryos, implanted them into a cow, and grew them in utero to four months gestation( fetal farming). They then aborted and killed the fetal cows, obtained liver tissue cells, and transplanted the cells into adult cows. The authors reported this as an advance in “therapeutic” cloning with future application to humans.
  • Researchers have already developed artificial womb-like environments to grow animal embryos into fetuses. Dr. Hug-Ching Liu of Cornell University has grown mouse embryos nearly to term in artificial wombs.
  • Dr. Liu and her team have successfully implanted living human embryos (thawed from the frozen state) into an artificial womb wall. She ended the experiment after six days but told reporters she has every intention of allowing embryos to develop further and longer.
  • In a July 2005 article in the online magazine Slate, author William Saletan wrote an article titled “The Organ Factory: The case for harvesting older human embryos.” Saletan presents evidence that growing human embryos to eight weeks gestation will become technically feasible in the near future, providing tissues far more valuable than cells from a 14-day embryo. Saletan reasons, as many scientists do, that if we are able to do it, why not do it?
  • The New Jersey legislature, with an enormous push from the biotech industry, has enacted a law that specifically authorizes and encourages human cloning for fetal farming by allowing human clones to be developed through the “embryo, fetal and newborn stages into a new human individual.” Maintaining a cloned human up to the threshold of live birth and then destroying him or her for stem cells, tissues and organs is permitted.

To justify experimentation on human embryos and developing children, scientists are attempting to redefine what it means to be human and are thus violating our concept of the human person in the process. They are truly leading us into a brave new world that relies on destruction of human life to achieve their purposes.

In-Depth Articles and Resources

Adult Stem Cells by David A. Prentice, Ph.D.
The original paper appeared in the President’s Council on Bioethics, Washington, D.C., January 2004, Reprinted in David A. Prentice, Ph.D., Adults Stem Cells, 19 ISSUES IN LAW & MED. 265 (2004). Posted on with permission.

United National Declaration on Human Cloning Approved by the U.N. General Assembly

Adult Stem Cell Success Stories by 2008 Update: July – December by David A. Prentice, Ph.D., William L. Saunders, JD, Jan Ledochowski, and Lukas Lucenic

Current Science of Regenerative Medicine with Stem Cells by David A. Prentice, Ph.D.
The original paper appeared in the EB Symposium section of the Journal of Investigative Medicine, Vol. 54; Num 1; January 2006. Posted on with permission.

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