This letter, following our conversation, is to point out to you the imminent dangers arising from the recent successes in
nuclear transplantation into mammalian eggs--in other words, cloning of individuals. The current work on rodents in Basel
and at the Wistar in Philadelphia is not yet solid, but I predict the technique will be perfected in 6 to 12 months. From
rodents to humans is only one small step.
Fifteen years ago Jim Watson and I, although we were skeptical of dangers from genetic engineering, pointed out that cloning
of mammalian eggs, in contrast to the much larger amphibian eggs, was the only foreseeable but major danger. I believe the
danger point is now.
The danger is double: to society, which may be exposed to foolish manipulations, and to science itself, because of attacks
by well intentioned but confused groups. Already Mr. Rifkin has managed to confuse cloning with genetic engineering so as
to condemn both.
May I suggest that the Academy Council consider this situation and take as promptly as possible whatever steps may seem desirable.