WASHINGTON - There was a great deal of talk last week about the implications of cloning - in Congress, the White House, on TV and around kitchen tables - and there will be more this week, with the Dolly doctor himself, Ian Wilmot; NIH Director Harold Varmus; Genzyme Transgenics Corp. President and CEO James Geraghty; and Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. President and CEO Leonard Bell scheduled to testify to Congress.

But perhaps the most significant conversations this week will be heard at a two-day hearing of the 18 members of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission (NBAC). Varmus has urged Congress to defer action until it hears from the commission. And President Clinton, even while announcing a ban on federal funding of cloning research and calling for the private sector to respect a voluntary prohibition, said the measures were temporary stop-gaps until the NBAC completes a 90-day report on the issue (see BioCentury Extra, Feb. 25).

Language is crucial