White House stem cell policy influenced by fears of Huxley's Brave New World
Powerline has three interesting commentators. However, as they focus on American subjects, we don't often quote them here. A post by Scott Johnson caught our eye because it appears that President Bush's decision to limit government support for embryonic stem cell research was influenced by British author Aldous Huxley's Brave New World , which he published more than 70 years ago. Scott quotes Jay Lefkowitz -
"I brought into the Oval Office my copy of Brave New World, Aldous Huxley’s 1932 anti-utopian novel, and as I read passages aloud imagining a future in which humans would be bred in hatcheries, a chill came over the room. 'We’re tinkering with the boundaries of life here,' Bush said when I finished. 'We’re on the edge of a cliff. And if we take a step off the cliff, there’s no going back. Perhaps we should only take one step at a time.'
President Bush banned stem-cell research involving human cloning and refused to allow federal funds for research on fertility-clinic embryos. He did not ban private research.
This year I was happy to see science transform the embryo-stem cell argument with a stem-cell breakthrough that probably means it is no longer necessary to use embryonic cells for medical advances.