May I suggest that readers compare the lofty statements made by "premier" bioethicist Arthur Caplan in his interview with The Scientist (Oct. 17, 1994, page 12) with his superficial, ill- considered, and alarmist comments on the recent recommendations of the National Institutes of Health Human Embryo Panel, made in a syndicated column published in the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Oct. 13, 1994.

For example, Caplan states that the panel recommends federal funding for studies on human parthenotes (eggs activated without sperm). But he totally ignores the evidence documented in the panel's report that mammalian parthenotes are intrinsically unable to develop much beyond implantation, owing to differential "imprinting" of genes inherited from the mother and father.

The panel felt that the study of human parthenotes would throw light on mechanisms regulating early gene expression, including DNA methylation and imprinting, which are relevant to certain inherited diseases. However, given the evidence...

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