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Cloning Pioneer’s Fall: A Western View

Posted November. 28, 2005 05:44,   


“Ethical Globalization” is the title of a November 26 Financial Times editorial. In it, the Financial Times emphasized the importance of global ethics, but added the proviso that Professor Hwang Woo-suk’s disgrace doesn’t invalidate his scientific achievements.

The following is the summary of the editorial:

When Hwang apologized to the nation for concealing the fact that his laboratory staff donated their own egg cells on November 24, many Koreans felt that Hwang was a victim of western, as opposed to Asian, ethical values.

To some extent, Koreans are correct.

Scientific ethics are increasingly becoming global. Korea should adhere to certain minimum standards of conduct backed by strong regulations if it wants to become a world-class location for bioscience business.

Korea is right to ignore the western religious or anti-abortion groups that want to ban cloning of human embryos. However, there are guidelines for avoiding conflict of interest and protecting human subjects that should apply to all bioscience.

Professor Hwang also violated the principle of open disclosure to the public. When there was a controversy over the donation of eggs by staff members last year, Hwang should have revealed it rather than covering it up.

If Korean scientists show rapid research progress within the new regulations, there is no reason why they shouldn’t set an example for the world. Once Korean scientists show that the stem cell research can develop effective treatments for degenerative diseases, western scientists who opposed the stem cell research on moral grounds will change their minds.