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Cellmates - Reading

1 Look at the title of the article below and discuss what you think the article will be about and what?  ideas views might be discussed?
2 Read the article, ignoring the gaps. Decide what the writer's attitude to Richard Seed is.
3 Next to the article are paragraphs which are missing from the main text. They are in jumbled order and there is one more than is required. To help you decided where each one should go, follow these instructions.
  1. Look at paragraph G. You will see the words The second cloning method... have been underlined. What does this phrase tell us about what comes directly before this paragraph? Find the appropriate gap in the main text where this paragraph should go.
  2. Look at paragraph C. The words this and he are underlined. What/who do they refer to? Find the gap in the main text where this paragraph should go.
  3. Look at the other extracted paragraphs. Pay particular attention to the underlined words. Decide who or what they refer to. Allocate one paragraph for each of the gaps.
4 When you have decided on one paragraph for each gap, read the complete article from beginning to end to be sure that it makes sense.
5 Discuss with other students. How does your view of Richard Seed compare with that of the journalist who wrote the article?


Had Richard Seed been your typical scientist - prone to caution and qualifying statements - he would never have become famous. If he'd even looked different, more mousy and cerebral, he might not have got the huge exposure that he did. But as it was, his habit of uttering alarming far-fetched statements, his didactic manner an forbidding appearance ensured him his time in the media spotlight. For several days at the beginning of 1998, he became a household name as the first person who was going to clone human beings.

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There are, in fact, two ways of cloning animals and, potentially, humans. The first is by embryo splitting, which already happens naturally in the case of identical twins. From time to time a very early-stage embryo will divide to form two separate individuals who are genetically identical. It's possible to repeat this process artificially, but because only a very few cells are available at the stage where they divide, this method can only result in a few clones.

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Neither the increased legislation nor the public condemnation has caused Seed to question the validity of his plan to clone human being. A Harvard-trained physicist who started working in reproductive sciences 20 years ago, he co-founded a company in the 1970s that developed a technique for transferring embryos in cattle. Later, he used the same technique on humans, attempting to transfer embryos from fertile to infertile women.

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If the idea of human cloning makes most of us feel uncomfortable, why don't governments simply ban it outright? The problem is that we risk throwing the (cloned) baby out with the bath water. The technology could be enormously useful. Following the outrage over Seed's announcement, American biotech companies and scientists were fearful that hasty, badly worded legislation would restrict valuable, ethically acceptable research.

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Nevertheless, the idea of cloning is terrifying to many because it seems to diminish us and at the same time to give us enormous power, a power we don't think we are ready for. But Steve Jones, professor of genetics at university College, London, says we probably shouldn't worry so much.

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A human clone, it is said, would be a person's identical twin born 20 or 30 years later. A clone might look like a younger version of the same predispositions and inclinations but, "You're going to get someone who is raised by different parents, in a different time, who will fall in love with different people,' says Thomas Murray, director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics, Cleveland, Ohio.

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The issue of human cloning raises a hundred questions to which there are few clear answers. What about the situation where a mother wants to "replace" a daughter who has died in a car crash? Supposing a couple had a child with kidney failure: would it be right for them to clone a sibling to be a compatible organ donor?

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'If I look at some of my deepest fears,' says Steve Jones, 'they're not about cloning. But I do have fears about genetics. I'm often shocked that my own?  students don't think there are ethical problems. Many have the feeling that, if you can do it, then you should.' It's a pity science can't be made to stop, back up a bit. We haven't had time to fully absorb the ideas surrounding human cloning, and already we're moving into even more ethically murky waters. Until we get the issues about cloning sorted out, what chance do we have with an even more complicated matter - our ability to make offspring who are far superior to us genetically? Or whatever happens then to pass as being superior.

Extracted paragraphs - Cellmates

  1. He claims the procedure led to the birth of three healthy babies. 'Clones are fun,' he booms. 'They're so much fun, I plan to make five of my own.' It's an alarming thought. The vision of five more Richard Seeds looming over me is so distracting that I can't think of much to say in response.
  2. 'My mother is an identical twin, so I'm used to the idea of human clones. She and my aunt are clearly different people who happen to look remarkably the same. People who say clones aren't natural are effectively saying that people are simply the sum of their genes. They're not. People are people.'
  3. This was not going to be some time far into the future, but within months. It was a relatively simple matter, he airily claimed. No matter that other scientists said it couldn't be done, or ethicists that it shouldn't be done. He insisted he was going to go ahead.
  4. Having said this, geneticists currently appear to be less interested in issues of human cloning than the ethical and practical implications of genetic engineering. This is the kind of technology that could one day allow us to preselect a whole range of desirable traits for our children.
  5. Despite such criticisms, his relative lack of experience in the field doesn't seem to concern him. 'It's true that there are probably 40 or 50 people in the US who are better qualified to do this than I am, but in the same sense of project organisations, I am definitely number one.'
  6. 'They may be utterly uninterested in their parents' line of work. If you were to find some DNA of Shakespeare's, for example, and create ten embryos from it, it's very unlikely any of them would grow up to be a great poet.'
  7. The second cloning method - the one that Seed says he is going to use - is nuclear replacement. Genetic material taken from a foetal or adult cell is introduced into an unfertilised egg that has had it own genetic material removed.
  8. This could, amongst other things, give us an insight into the origins of cancer and information about how and why we age. It could lead to huge advances in organ replacement and, for example, a way of creating new skin for burn victims.

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