August 14th, 2002
SYDNEY: An Australian scientist has accused some of his peers of being motivated by commercial greed and a desire to clone humans in their support of embryonic stem-cell research.
Brisbane immunologist and infectious diseases expert, Michael Good, made the claims at a public meeting also addressed by Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson and United States President George W. Bush's bioethics adviser.
The meeting was held to try to stop a Bill being passed by federal Parliament later this month which would allow embryonic stem-cell research to be conducted on Australia's 70,000 surplus IVF embryos.
Liberal anti-euthanasia legislator Kevin Andrews and Labor MP John Murphy both voiced their opposition to the research, defying their leaders' stance.
Sydney's Catholic Archbishop George Pell and his Anglican counterpart Peter Jensen also repeated their opposition.
While the group opposed the research on the moral ground that life begins at conception, Professor Good took the case further, suggesting a more sinister motive for those in favour of the experimentation.
"I'm concerned that the real motive behind this is to clone humans," he said.
He said there was no other possible explanation for such enthusiasm for the research, claiming the benefits were largely unproven. "Therapeutic cloning is what I'm afraid these people are driving at," he said.
"The scientific arguments otherwise don't hold water."
Professor Good said some of his peers may have been motivated by commercial interests, although he did not name any.
Asked by master of ceremonies Mike Willesee himself a vehement opponent of embryonic stem-cell research if that was a possible reason for their support for the research, Professor Good said: "I'm aware that some of the proponents of embryonic stem-cell research have commercial interests in the field, yes."
But multiple sclerosis sufferer Janine Theol said the speakers were using emotive arguments and misrepresenting the issue.
"They forget to say that there are 70,000 IVF embryos that are going to be destroyed," she said.
"Why just destroy them? Why not utilise them in ethical research to
look for cures or assistance for people with diabetes, MS, Parkinson's,
Alzheimer's, et cetera?"
© 2002, The Canberra Times