Monday, December 3, 2001
Most biotechnology companies like to fly below the radar screen,
figuring there's no upside to reminding activists of one stripe or another that
they work with animals, or patent genes, or engage in activities to which someone
might object. They also, in general, like to wait to publish until they have
enough data to have a shot at the major peer reviewed publications. But Advanced Cell Technology Inc. courts both publicity and controversy, as attested by the
company's announcement claiming the first successful cloning of a human embryo.
But in its eagerness to publicize results that some scientists
see as having questionable scientific importance, the company stimulated a political
backlash that could retard the advance of nuclear transfer technology and lead
to more stringent regulation of broad areas of biotech research. Thus although
Advanced Cell did not succeed in keeping cloned human embryos viable beyond
the six-cell stage, it did manage to revitalize the dormant controversies over
nuclear transfer technology and human therapeutic and reproductive cloning.