Cloning Story Was Offspring of Hype

The bold announcement from Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) that it had taken steps to create human embryos through cloning was more hype than reality. The methods used had already been done in animals, and some scientists insisted it wasn't cloning at all. Also, the few embryonic cells it had created had died. "This was a public relations campaign," said Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. "It was aimed at investors and the public, but not scientists." As ACT's president later acknowledged, the company deliberately by-passed prestigious scientific journals like Science and Nature in order to find a second-rate academic outlet that would agree to publish the study simultaneously with U.S. News & World Report. Reporters bit like fish nevertheless, running breathless headlines about "The First Human Clone" and speculating about miracle cures and the ominous possibility of cloning Osama Bin Laden.