Sunday, August 20, 2006

Rome Babies part 1

Rome babies

You remember when it started, don’t you?

Not very well I bet, but you do remember that miracle sheep?

You probably won’t remember them telling us that we were stupid to worry about the consequences. It was after all, far too difficult to replicate it in humans. In fact, it would never be done. It was too hard, too difficult and too dangerous.

Then those two renegade doctors appeared, Zavos and Antinori with their two thousand volunteers and claims that we were only a year away from the first cloned baby.

Naturally there was outcry in the media but it never really became the headline news it needed to be. There was always something nore immediate to worry about. A little war here, a financial slump there.

So the research went on, relatively unopposed.

After all money was already changing hands.

It didn’t happen straight away, it did take time. But Zavos and Antinori and all the others who hadn’t been quite so vocal about their intentions used that time and they perfected the techniques required.

The scientists were closer than anyone ever believed.

Jose Cibelli cloned himself using a cow’s egg; he kept this secret for three years.

Dolly the miracle sheep was seven months old before her creators The Roslin institute went public about their remarkable achievement.

So, how long then, would the scientists working away on reproductive cloning take to reveal to the world a successfully cloned human being?

Never?…Not for a long long time?…Not in our lifetime?

This time next year maybe?

One day in the autumn of 2008, which was far sooner than we thought, we were introduced to a three-year-old boy called Tom, and his genetically identical copy, Tim.

It was then that the world stopped and listened and then we spoke.

We said how identical they were.

Which was crushingly obvious. On a genetic level, these two little boys were 99.9% identical.

We said that it was a crime against nature.

However we’ve been committing crimes against nature since the first day we dragged ourselves from the primordial sludge. Nature already had a compelling case against us, so really, what difference did this make?

Besides, nature had created clones. They were called twins, or triplets or whatever, we were just catching up.

We said that it was an outrage against humanity.

But really, what humanity? Out of sheer boredom you were stuffing your over fed face with a cheese burger made from a toxic cocktail of chemically fed bovine bi-product and genetically altered high yield wheat, whilst half a world away a family died of starvation.

So really, with what humanity did we have the audacity to make such a judgement?

We just looked on at two little boys that were one. Tim’s beaming smile full of confidence, Tom sucking his thumb and looking scared…

Or was that Tim?

Where there were once loopholes, laws were tightened. After all Governments had to be seen to be acting.

It was of course all too late, they were already here.

This is it. This is the future and we have lived here for almost forty-five years.

Cloning is now officially illegal across the entire planet, and has been for over thirty years.

However, for the ten years that followed the statements made in Rome and in Washington DC in 2001 there was a period of extensive research, of extensive trials and of extensive failures.

They, being the teams of Scientist engaged in this race to be the first, operated from countries which had no formal regulations on either of the two cloning methods then available; embryo splitting and nuclear replacement.

It was just as Dr Brigitte Boisselier the Scientific Director of Clonaid had said;

“The demand is huge, the demand is there…this will be done,”

Done it was.

By 2013, the failure rate had dropped significantly, and demand was higher than ever. We never called them clones we called them Rome Babies.

In the year before the worldwide banning of all reproductive cloning, the Government in this country estimated the number of Rome Babies to be approximately three-quarters of a million.
Three quarters of a million children aged between 2 months and 6 years old.

The trouble was not just that there were so many, it was the fact the Government really did not know who they all were, or indeed, where they all were. The same was true across Europe, into Asia, through Australia, Africa and the United States.

President Richard Taylor made an address to the American public in 2015 that stated that the menace of human reproductive cloning and any associated long-term threats would be stopped, at whatever cost.

What a cost it is.

All known Rome Babies must be registered.

All known Rome Babies have restriction of movement within the United States of America and in the United States of Europe.

All known Rome Babies are genetically tagged for security reasons.

All known Rome Babies are automatically sterilised.

If you are found to be a Rome Baby and you have not declared your status you are prosecuted and jailed.

Any child of a Rome Baby is automatically exposed to the same restrictions, including enforced sterilisation, at whatever age.

If you are found to be harbouring a Rome Babies without surrendering them to authorities, you are liable to spend a lot of time in jail.

If you are found to be engaging in any form of research toward an aim of reproductive human cloning you are also liable to spend a lot of time in jail.

As you already know, China had it's own methods of dealing with Rome Babies.

The question is how can we treat Rome Babies this way? After all, are they not our fellow human beings? The intention of these laws is to stop the very act of human reproductive cloning for whatever reason. They are not about the individual; they are about the concept.

We could not have grasped the impact these laws would have on the individual. How could we? When President Taylor made his address, the eldest clone alive was only eight years old.

No one ever thought to ask the simple question…

How will you feel to know you are a clone?

To know that you are nothing more than a copy?


Ship Creak said...

Shit, man, where did all this come from? Very deep, but compelling all the same. More, please.

P.S. Don't take that as a compliment you twat.

garfer said...

Most clones, if they met, would instantly hate each other causing one clone to kill the other.

If they were narcissists they would fall in love, and being of the same sex, not procreate.

If each clone were a Coldplay fan they would have a good old whinge together.

The permutations are endlesss.

I don't know what Romulus and Remus would have made of it all.