[EDITORIALS]A worrisome achievementProfessor Hwang Woo-suk of Seoul National University and his team have made another breakthrough in genetic research. This time, they succeeded in cloning a dog for the very first time. We send applause and cheers to Mr. Hwang and his team for their consecutive successes, achieved in spite of inferior research facilities and a dearth of funding compared to what scientists in more advanced countries receive.
Cloning a dog has significance beyond the fact that it is man’s best friend. Of the 13 species of mammal that have been cloned to date, the dog is the most difficult, and now Korean scientists have overcome that barrier.
Ian Wilmut of the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, Scotland, the man who cloned the first mammal, Dolly the sheep, called the cloning of a dog a milestone. Clearly, Korea has become a leading country in animal cloning, following its success in cloning stem cells from a human embryo.
Along with Mr. Hwang’s other successes so far, this achievement boosts Korea’s status in the world of science. Compared to the days when our scientists had difficulty getting an opportunity to publish their research in leading journals like Nature and Science, the situation has changed considerably.
Nowadays, these journals compete with each other to carry Mr. Hwang’s works. The world’s leading researchers in genetic science, such as Mr. Wilmut and Gerald Schatten of the University of Pittsburgh, now visit Seoul frequently.
But we also have worries. Advanced countries like the United States and Italy hesitate to allow research in genetic science because of ethical concerns having to do with reverence for life.
In that sense, we would be well advised to refrain from boasting about our advanced scientific achievements. We would do well to listen to the concerns of scholars, respecters of the dignity of life, who are afraid that developing the technology to clone animals could lead to human cloning.
A developing technology has a tendency to continue in whatever direction it is going. It has no room for ethics or values. As was demonstrated when the first nuclear bomb was developed, science can turn from good to evil in the blink of an eye. If this technology moves blindly in the direction of human cloning, it will lead the human race to ruin.