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From: rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu (Russell Hendel) Date: Mon, 24 Mar 1997 14:02:13 -0500 Subject: Cloning: Some supplemental Remarks: There have been some very good postings on Cloning. I would just like to add a few comments which don't always wind up in Teshuvoth or postings. 1st) "Life" in English and Science refers to plants, animals, man and microorganisms. The reason being is that they all can reproduce, have some type of adaptability and consume food. In the Torah however (using a CD rom or Konkordance) only animals and man are called living. Plants are called "reproducables (Zerah) Since there is a Bibical injunction against grafting fruit trees (and animals) it would follow that the Chief Rabbis of Israel's opinion (quoted in a posting) that "creating new life" is Assur is correct. and applies to "genetic engineering" However two distinctions come to mind 2nd) Even if "genetic engineering" is prohibited perhaps that is only when we create a new form of life. If our purpose say was to use genetric engineering to cure some illness (like Tay Sachs) perhaps this is not akin to "grafting" but to "curing" and therefore permissable. 3rd) I know of no good sources on the status of microorganisms... are they life or not. In other words EVEn if we accept the position that the prohibition of grafting applies to all genetic engineering does it apply to microorganisms also. In connection with this I mention some American legal cases in which the issue of companies using genetic engineering to create bacteria that produce certain chemicals came up. The court issue was whether you could legally obtain a patent on "life" (ie. did the company "own" that form of bacteria or could other companies also create it without paying the original company a fee). 4th) At least one posting dealt with whether we "should" want to clone (vs whether it is permissable). As far as I know Jewish Hashkafa does not subscribe to the Malthusian view that "life is a potential nuisance since we might not have enough to feed it...and therefore should only be encouraged when we do have enough to feed it". Judaism believes that new life adds "blessings" to the world and the new people can help create more food than they consume. This view on the intrinsic "desirability" of life is independent of positions on Birth Control which can focus on other technical issues. If anyone can shed specific light on the above 4 items: 1) definitions of life, 2) using genetic engineering to cure illnesses, 3) the status of microorganisms (usage of genetric engineering to produce chemicals) and 4) the desirability of more life in ALL circumstances this would be welcome Russell Jay Hendel, Ph.d, asa; rhendel @ mcs drexel edu