Meaning of YEAR IN REVIEW 2000: SPECIAL-REPORT in English


Arms Race in Sporting Goods Modern athletes, it is said, stand on the shoulders of yesteryear's greats; increasingly, however, improvements in conditioning, technique, training, and coaching are augmented not only by the advances made by earlier athletes but also by technological breakthroughs in equipment that help today's athletes soar higher, throw farther, hit with more power and control, and move with greater speed than ever before in sports history. It is not always clear if improvements in equipment correlate with world-record times; modern athletes benefit from better nutritional guidance, sports medicine, and sports science know-how than their predecessors had. Swimming records have fallen in the wake of new full-body swimsuits that reduce friction and drag, but in this case it is difficult to separate clothes and effect. Drugs may also play a part. At the turn of the previous century, it was not unusual for bicycle racers to smoke; tobacco was thought to be a stimulant that improved athletic performance. However, a scandal broke out in international cycling as recently as 1998 when teams that were found to have used banned performance-enhancing drugs were pulled from the famed Tour de France. Cycling is a good place to begin an exploration of how high-tech equipment plays a role in sports performance. In a mechanics' shop at the USA Cycling headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., 12 bicycles, each representing $70,000 in design and fabrication, are suspended from the ceiling. These are the U.S. Cycling Team's Superbikes, track cycles constructed almost entirely of carbon fibre and aluminum alloys. These aerodynamic wonders, whose spare, narrow profiles and slippery monocoque frames give one the feeling of sculpture, were built solely to achieve supremacy on the short, banked tracks of Olympic sprint and pursuit cycling. While it is hard to compare track cycling times, owing to the strategic nature of the racing, it is fair to say that the bikes gave American riders an advantage in international competition. Marty Nothstein rode to three world championships for Team USA during the Superbike era, and Norm Alvis established the U.S. national record for the farthest distance ridden in one hour51.5 km (32 mi) on Sept. 26, 1997. The Union Cycliste Internationale (cycling's international governing body) modified its equipment specifications for the year 2000, rendering the Superbikes illegal for international and Olympic competitions. The new standards will result in less technologically advanced cycles that can be built by nations without $1 million research budgets. Such is the nature of sports and technology: a tug-of-war between athletes, coaches, and the sporting goods companies, which use sports-equipment innovations to gain competitive advantages on the field and in the marketplace, pitted against less technologically advantaged opponents and the sports governing bodies charged with maintaining as level a playing field as possible. Sometimes the dam of opposition falls and a new technology floods a sport. In speed skating, after nearly a century of incremental equipment changes, an innovative new design called the clapskate was introduced in 1996. The new skate's hinged toe (the source of its namesake sound) allowed skaters to maintain contact with the ice throughout the entire power stroke and thus shaved nearly a second per lap off the times of top skaters. Many teams initially opposed the new technology, but they resigned themselves to the inevitable once the skates were deemed legal by the International Skating Union in 1996. Competitors quickly scrambled to adjust to the new technique demanded by the clapskates. Astoundingly, at the 1998 Winter Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan, men and women speed skaters set world or Olympic records in every event save one. The speed gap, largely attributable to the new skates, was so wide that American superstar Bonnie Blair's gold medal-winning 500-m performance at the 1994 Games in Lillehammer, Nor., would not have earned her a bronze in Nagano. Improvements in sporting goods are not always about shaving record times. Often the goals of sporting goods designers begin with the desire to make a sport easier and more fun. Recreational athletes make up the bulk of consumers in the sporting goods industry, whose sales in the U.S. alone totaled $44.3 billion in 1998. It is for these athletes that many of the biggest advancements in athletic shoes, clothing, and equipment are intended. Better performance for professional athletes is sometimes just a side-effect. The modern Alpine ski (characterized by a thermoplastic base and stainless steel edges) was created in 1950 by aerospace engineer Howard Head, a novice skier who wanted to make skiing easier to learn. In 1970 Head also pioneered the metal tennis racket head. Later innovations included oversize racket heads that had larger hitting areas, giving players more control. Such innovations had repercussions in the professional game; today's tennis players have rackets capable of delivering serves in excess of 193 km/h (120 mph) in the hands of a great player like Pete Sampras. Skiing has benefitted from numerous other technological advancements, including safety-release bindings in the 1960s and thermoplastic boots in the '70s. The biggest design revolution in decades, shaped skis, was introduced in the mid-1990s. Shorter than the straight skis they replaced, these new boards feature narrow waists and wide tips and tails that create a tighter turning radius and make it less difficult to initiate and finish turns. Initially created to make skiing easier for recreationists, the new designs have found their way onto the podiums of women's World Cup competitions and among top 10 finishers in men's U.S. Alpine championship slalom. Today's golf irons are not made of iron, and some are not even made of steel. Manufacturers use metals such as titanium, tungsten steel, zirconium, copper, and beryllium to create today's high-tech golf clubs. Golf club manufacturers also have pushed the limits of design to create easier-hitting woods (whose club heads are no longer made of wood but are made of metal). Callaway Golf, a leader in golf club manufacturing, made a big splash in the industry when it introduced the Big Bertha driver 10 years ago. At first, golfers were skeptical of the club head, which was roughly one-third larger than the popular drivers of the day, but acceptance was rapid once golfers discovered that the clubs were easier to hit. In 1999 the Big Bertha remained the best-selling golf club of all time, and manufacturers offered drivers that were even larger. The cost of design innovation can be steep; it was reported that Callaway spends between $30 million and $60 million a year in research and development. They have a $4 million test facility that includes a driving range with electronic sensors in the ground to provide feedback on backspin and sidespin as machine-driven balls strike the ground. Computer-aided design allows the manufacturer to design, build, and test new equipment in a matter of days, as opposed to the months it would have taken in the past. In golf, as in other sports, it is not always in the interest of the sport to allow athletes to improve their games drastically by means of improved equipment. Clearly, however, technological advancements in sports equipment not only have aided in improved performance and faster times but also have enabled more and more people, including the disabled, to compete and to reap considerable rewards in a wide array of sports. Gavin Forbes Ehringer is a sports and outdoor writer, specializing in equestrian events, rodeos, skiing, and snowboarding. Electronic Trading by Irving Pfeffer The past few years have seen a spectacular and revolutionary development in the mechanics of stock tradingperhaps the largest change since brokers' fees were deregulated in 1975electronic trading, or e-trading. Sleek names of on-line firms like Ameritrade, Charles Schwab, and E*Trade are being bandied about more than old-line composite brokers such as Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, PaineWebber, and Merrill Lynch. In 1999 the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which regulates the industry in the United States, ruled that any trading firm could have full access to stocks listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) by expanding the Intermarket Trading System, an electronic-order routing system created in 1978 that links the exchange markets that trade listed securities. The NYSE voted to rescind Rule 390, which prohibited off-exchange trading of stocks listed before April 26, 1979. With SEC approval, all listed stocks became freely tradable. These changes, combined with the proliferation of electronic communications networks (ECNs) and increased access to the Internet, were altering the investment world and creating a new breed of investorsself-reliant, computer literate, and, most remarkably, intent upon acting independently of traditional brokers. Underlying e-trading are ECNs, computerized systems for directly matching the orders of buyers and sellers of securities without the intervention of specialists or market makers. In a traditional full-service or discount brokerage, a customer places an order with a broker member of a stock exchange, who in turn passes it on to a specialist on the floor of the exchange who actually concludes the transaction. The traditional specialist makes a market for a stock on the exchange by matching buy and sell orders in his exclusive book and establishes a price for the trade. In the over-the-counter market, market makers establish prices by setting bid and asked spreads with a commitment to complete trades in a given security. In e-trading the customer enters an order directly on-line, and specialized software automatically matches orders to achieve the best price available. In effect, the ECN is a stock exchange for off-the-floor trading. All ECN trades operate in much the same way. Limit orders are posted and automatically matched. Because privacy is a factor, the size and price of orders is disclosed but not the identity of the trader. This is essential for institutional investors who want to avoid front running (taking advantage of inside knowledge by market makers). The elimination of the middleman reduces the cost per transaction and speeds up the trading process. The cost of one transaction on some e-trading companies can be as low as $8, while a traditional brokered deal might easily include a commission in excess of $100. Since the advent of ECNs in 1977, spreads between bids and offers have significantly tightened, execution costs dropped, and trade-execution times reduced. Instinet Corp., owned by Reuters Group, PLC, claims that its ECN saves its customers $1 billion annually in trading costs by eliminating the middleman. By 1999 Instinet was trading an average of over 150 million shares a day in the U.S., with approximately 7.5 million shares being traded during nonmarket hours. Recently, a group of electronic trading companies agreed to share stock prices in order to reassure investors that they were getting good prices in the rapidly expanding after-hours market. Under the plan, an investor would be able to see the best prices available on any of the ECNs. This plan would organize the information in the after-hours market and thus enable development of a 24-hour, 7-days-a-week marketplace. In fact, after-hours trading came into its own in 1999. The Chicago Stock Exchange approved a plan to offer extended hours to institutions and individuals. Among the after-hours trading facilities were MarketXT, Datek Online, NexTrade, Instinet, Wit Capital, and some stock exchanges. E*Trade made a deal with Instinet to allow customers to trade stocks until 6:30 PM Eastern Standard Time, away from the traditional exchanges. Although the NYSE announced it was postponing plans to open for evening trading, by year's end most major brokerage firms had adopted programs to continue market trading after hours, largely by automated computer networks. With multiple markets for a given stock, investors had difficulty in determining where the best prices were to be found. The SEC proposed a centralized system whereby all trades on any exchange would be uniformly listed on a single screen. The nine ECNs that are hooked up to the National Association of Securities Dealers automated quotations (Nasdaq) trading system have captured an estimated 30% of Nasdaq shares traded, with most of the volume going to Instinet and Island ECN, owned by Datek Online Holdings Corp. (Other leading ECNs include Bloomberg LP's Tradebook; Spear, Leeds & Kellogg LP's REDIBook; Brass's Utility LLC, majority-owned by Sungard Data Systems, Inc.; Strike Technologies LLC, owned by a consortium of brokerage firms; and Archipelago Holdings LLC.) Market penetration has been rapid, and it is expected that ECNs will have about 50% of Nasdaq's volume in a few years. The ECNs captured only about 5% of the Big Board's volume in 1999, but Instinet boasted that it represented in excess of 90% of the institutional funds under management in the U.S. and traded on average more U.S. stocks each day than any other broker. The major brokerage firms adapted to the new trading environment by splitting their activities into the traditional commission compensation for smaller clients and fixed annual fees for more substantial customers. They also encouraged customers to seek the services of investment advisers to provide services not available to commission-based customers. The proliferation of electronic markets alongside traditional exchanges was expected to fragment trading, threatening chaos in the pricing of stocks and leaving U.S. markets vulnerable to foreign competition. Losing order flow from institutional investors was another concern of the big brokerage firms. In self defense the four largest securities firms in the U.S. joined forces to back Primex Trading, an electronic auction system for stocks, and thereby gave Primex a jump start in the field of electronic trading. Primex is aiming to be an electronic version of the NYSE, in which participants not only will be able to buy and sell stocks at prevailing market prices but may also interact openly with one another to find the best bargain. The participating brokers are likely to drive many stock transactions through Primex. The number of investors making computerized trades was exploding in 1999, particularly day traders, who engage in quick on-line stock and option trades in an attempt to take advantage of tiny fluctuations in price. The number of on-line brokerage firms stood at 140 in June, up from 100 six months earlier. The number of brokerage accounts on-line was expected to reach 10.5 million by the end of the year, up from 7.1 million in 1998, according to Gomez Advisors, a research firm specializing in electronic commerce. The SEC was concerned about the risks to clearing firms of margin-lending practices at the day-trading brokerage houses. Part of the goal was to assess the role that clearing firms play in monitoring the lending activities of day-trading concerns. Clearing firms need to maintain strong internal controls and risk-management procedures. The SEC proposed rules for controlling publicly traded securities where there was a lack of financial information about the issuer. It would require market makers to have current financial information about the companies in which they make markets and would compel small issuers to become fully reporting or not be traded publicly. Rule 15c2-11 would discourage market making in microcap stocks (low-priced equities formerly known as penny stocks). The SEC also tightened the rules on insider status by requiring tighter supervision of the personal trading practices of managers and other investment company insiders. By 1999 bond trading on the Internet had also arrived. In January 1996 Cantor Fitzgerald, a pioneer in the e-trading of bonds, started using a $200 million Nasdaq-like electronic trading system that replaced the open-cry trading floor. An order would be placed on the computer and automatically matched if a sell order was in the system as well. Cantor set up eSpeed to operate for the public at large. A survey in 1999 by the Bond Market Association (BMA) found that 39 firms offered or planned to offer electronic bond transaction services, up from 26 in 1998 and 11 in 1997. The potential business is huge; the $13.5 trillion U.S. bond market sees $500 billion in turnover daily, and new issuance was expected to exceed $10 trillion in 1999. The BMA estimated that approximately 5% of total fixed-income trading volume would occur electronically in 1999, versus about 2% in 1998 and none in 1997. Rivalry between the exchanges for options trading heated up in 1999 with a breakdown of the exclusivity arrangement whereby an option was traded on a single exchange. The Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) announced that it would list options on Dell Computer, which previously was handled exclusively by the Philadelphia Stock Exchange. The Philadelphia Exchange retaliated by listing options of the CBOE and the American Stock Exchange. The Pacific Stock Exchange announced plans to list 24 options traded on the three rival exchanges, including those of General Electric and Intel. The International Securities Exchange (ISE), an all-electronic options market, was set to launch in 2000 with options trading in one of 10 allotted baskets of stocks, each to contain 60 issues. The ISE was set up to guarantee a liquid and orderly market. The strategy was to skim the top 600 most active or otherwise attractive option classes and thus avoid the illiquidity of thousands of options series that had little activity. Although regulated like brokers, ECNs act more like stock exchanges, competing with Nasdaq dealers and stock exchanges by electronically matching buyers and sellers. Following a 1998 ruling by the SEC that would allow ECNs to register as exchanges, Island ECN announced its intention to register as a stock exchange, the first formed since the early 1970s. Archipelago and NexTrade also applied to become exchanges in order to compete directly with both the NYSE and the Nasdaq. The opening up of the stock markets to free competition on a round-the-clock basis poses many problems from a regulatory perspective. The existing exchanges operate as self-regulatory organizations under control of the SEC, but ECNs do not have disciplinary powers, and there is a lack of uniformity of reporting for regulatory purposes. As stock markets enter the 21st century, the registration of ECNs as exchanges will almost certainly bring a stronger sense of order into the very dynamic financial marketplace. Irving Pfeffer is an attorney in San Francisco and the editor of The Financing of Small Business. South America's Indigenous Peoples by Alcida Rita Ramos More than 350 indigenous groups with a population totaling over 18 million people inhabit South America. Some of these groups still struggle for their physical survival, but many others have begun to demand ethnic recognition and assert their political visibility. Particularly in the period after World War II, the 20th century has witnessed ever-greater participation of indigenous peoples in international forums. Denunciations of state-sanctioned (or state-ignored) human rights abuses have become routine, while on their own lands the Indians have engaged in protestssometimes even armed conflictsagainst breaches of their territorial rights and, above all, against disrespect for their cultural heritage. The clash between Latin American governments and Indians reached a climax in the 1960s and '70s, when large-scale development projects were launched that encroached upon the lands and lives of thousands of indigenous residents. In southern Brazil the Indians were pushed to extinction by large-scale colonization. By 1964 Xet society no longer existed. Eight Xet survived because they had been kidnapped in childhood by the developers, but they were left virtually homeless and lived scattered among various Indian reservations. In Chile, following a series of massacres and other atrocities by the government of Gen. Augusto Pinochet Ugarte in the 1970s and '80s, the Mapuche people lost most of their traditional land, which was either awarded to the usurpers or sold for their profit; the Mapuche faced compulsory assimilation. In Colombia members of the Indigenous Regional Council of Cauca (CRIC), an organization created in 1971, suffered repeated attacks from coffee growers and government forces, and by 1979, 30 of their leaders had been killed. CRIC also came under pressure from the other side; by 1986 more than 100 Cauca Indians had been murdered in their own communities by guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), while others were killed by the Colombian military, which accused them of engaging in guerrilla warfare. Such tragedies as these had a beneficial effect, however, in that they helped catalyze organizational efforts by native peoples. Beginning with a few timid incursions into United Nations forums in the 1940s and '50s, indigenous peoples gradually brought their cause into the international arena. The Declaration of Barbados, signed by 11 Latin American anthropologists in 1971, urged the countries of the Americas to recognize themselves as multiethnic states, asserted the right to self-determination for indigenous peoples, and called for the defense of indigenous culture and territory. In 1974 the UN recognized an indigenous organization, the National Indian Brotherhood of Canada (now called Assembly of First Nations), as a nongovernmental organization (NGO). Such status was granted to a specific association for the first time because no international indigenous peoples' organization yet existed. The following year the World Council of Indigenous Peoples was created. The first Barbados meeting had been attended exclusively by non-Indians, but Barbados II (1977) drew as many Indians as non-Indians. They reiterated the claim for self-determination. In the same year, some 100 Indian and Inuit delegates convened in Geneva to propose a revision of Convention 107, which had been approved by the International Labour Organization in 1957 to promote the protection and integration of tribal and semitribal populations. Native representatives strongly objected to the convention's assimilationist and paternalist bent and demanded to be recognized not as populations, a term used in animal biology, but as peoples. Their demands were not met until 1989, when Convention 107 was replaced with Convention 169. The new statute defended self-determination for indigenous peoplesthat is, greater autonomy in relation to their respective national states. In the 1980s the first transnational South American organization was created: COICA (Coordinating Body for the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin). The organization brought together 81 interethnic confederacies from five Amazonian countries, covering a population of 1.5 million people. In the 1991 Declaration of Mexico, 19 Latin American countries as well as Portugal and Spain acknowledged the importance of indigenous peoples for national development and cultural diversity. During the 1992 Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, a large number of native delegates from several countries attracted the world's attention with cultural and political events that ran parallel to the official meetings. The United Nations proclaimed 1993 the International Year of the World's Indigenous Peoples. In December 1998 the UN Commission on Human Rights discussed the draft Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which had been approved at all levels of the UN apparatus after it was introduced in 1986. Inevitably, this growing international visibility of the indigenous people's rights movement had enormous consequences at home. Under intense scrutiny, if not pressure, from abroad, nine Latin American countries and Canada incorporated provisions in their constitutions guaranteeing the rights of indigenous peoples. For example, even though the 1988 Brazilian constitution does not define the nation as multiethnic, it has brought about significant changes in the status and authority of Brazilian Indians. One major improvement over previous constitutions was the elimination of assimilationist clauses according to which the Indians should be harmoniously integrated into the national communion. In the current document social organization, customs, languages, creeds and traditions recognized, as well as their original rights to the lands they traditionally occupy. The new constitution redefines Indianness as a permanent rather than temporary condition, implicitly ending the centuries-old state wardship in the purportedly inescapable passage from Indianness to Brazilianness. For all these legal advances, the Brazilian state continues to own Indians' lands, which are reserved for the exclusive use of the indigenous communities. In short, Convention 169 has yet to be applied in Brazil. Colombia's 1991 constitution is much bolder in comparison. In Article 7 state recognizes and protects the ethnic and cultural diversity of the Colombian nation. Indigenous peoples are acknowledged as culturally distinct self-governing bodies while keeping the right to full citizenship. As in the Brazilian case, however, Colombia's constitution has no effect until complementary legislation renders it operational. Moreover, to delegate Western-style land jurisdiction to the Indians themselvesa form of management contrary to their traditionscould jeopardize their cultural integrity. In November 1999 the Constituent Assembly in Venezuela voted a chapter that, for the first time in the country's history, acknowledges the ethnic identity of indigenous peoples but leaves no room for ethnic autonomy within the indivisible Venezuelan nation, State, and people. In both countries constitutional changes resulted from pressures both within the country and abroad, and the NGOs played a key role. Neither here nor elsewhere, however, have legal advances solved all problems. Land takeovers are still endemic, and health and education programs have failed to satisfy the needs of the Indians. Moreover, a new form of plunderbiopiracy, the theft of unique biological and genetic materialsposes an increasing threat to the habitats of indigenous peoples, especially in the Amazon region. The past decade has seen a slowdown in the political mobilization of South America's native peoples. Further progress for these besieged peoples probably still lies with the NGOs, which are gradually taking over from the states the responsibility for the management of indigenous affairs.Alcida Rita Ramos is professor of anthropology at the University of Braslia, Brazil, and the author of Indigenism: Ethnic Politics in Brazil. The Science and Ethics of Embryonic Stem Cell Research At the end of 1998, almost simultaneously, one team of researchers announced that it had isolated human embryonic stem (ES) cells and another announced that it had isolated human embryonic germ (EG) cells. These announcements gave rise both to the promise of great medical benefits and to contentious ethical and policy questions. The medical promise of these cells is the potential to provide an endless supply of transplantable tissue. The ethical and policy questions primarily concern the embryonic and fetal sources of these cells. To understand both the promise and the ethical issues, it is important to understand some basic scientific facts about ES and EG cells. The announcement of the isolation of ES cells was made by James A. Thomson at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Thomson and his colleagues isolated ES cells from spare embryosthat is, embryos created in a fertility clinic by in vitro fertilization that are no longer needed for transfer to a woman. These embryos, five to seven days old, are called blastocysts. The outer layer of the blastocyst is destined to become the placenta. The remainder of the blastocyst, called the inner cell mass, is destined to become the fetus. Embryonic stem cells are isolated from this inner cell mass. John Gearhart at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md., announced the isolation of EG cells. Gearhart and his colleagues isolated EG cells from five- to nine-week-old aborted fetuses. Such cells are referred to as embryonic germ cells because they come from a small set of stem cells that were set aside in the embryo and prevented from differentiating. They are referred to as embryonic germ cells because they were destined to give rise to the eggs or sperm of the next generation. ES and EG cells have two remarkable properties. First, the cells are in principle immortal. Whereas most cells divide a finite number of times and perish, ES and EG cells can be cultured to divide indefinitely, which makes them excellent objects for manipulation by researchers. Second, they are pluripotent; that is, they can turn into manyand perhaps allcell types. All other cells have to some degree differentiated; that is, they have turned into one or another type of cell, such as nerve or muscle or skin. No one has yet successfully directed ES and EG cell differentiation to an extent that would be clinically useful, but the hope is that someday soon these cells will be used to generate specific, transplantable tissues. Despite the potential for medical benefit offered by ES and EG cells, the origin of these cells raises policy and ethical concerns. In the United States the policy issues primarily concern the use of federal funds for research involving human embryos and fetal tissue. The ethical concerns are primarily related to the moral status of the embryo and the aborted fetus. Human fetal tissue has been used in research aimed at developing therapies for disorders such as Parkinson's disease by transplanting that tissue into afflicted people. Before 1993, laws in the United States prohibited the use of federal funds for this research because the tissue used is obtained from aborted fetuses. In 1993 Pres. Bill Clinton lifted that ban. A number of restrictions exist to ensure that fetal tissue for research is obtained in a manner that respects the women from whom it is taken and that research does not encourage abortion. These restrictions are likely to apply to EG cell research. First, the physician is required to obtain the woman's informed consent to use fetal tissue removed from her body. Second, to ensure that the possibility of donating tissue to benefit medical science does not influence a woman's decision, the donation of fetal tissue can be discussed only following a decision to terminate the pregnancy. Finally, a woman may not direct that her fetal tissue be used to benefit a particular person. The policy situation with respect to human embryonic stem cells is more complicated. Currently, U.S. law prohibits federal funding of human embryo research. Consequently, private corporations have taken the lead and funded the research mentioned above that isolated the first human ES and EG cells. Lawyers for the U.S. National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md., have provided a legal opinion that states that under the current law it is legal to fund research on human ES cells so long as federal funds are not used to support the derivation of those cells. Although this legal interpretation may be technically sound, it places the U.S. government in the paradoxical position of withholding funds from research to derive ES cells but permitting funds for research on ES cells once they have been derived by means of private funds. The ethical problems associated with ES cells are largely connected to the question of the moral status of the embryo. How one evaluates the act of deriving ES cells depends on whether one believes the human embryo is a person, a mass of human cells, or something in between that requires special consideration. Science cannot answer this question. Currently, most Western countries permit embryo research for specific purposes and within certain strict limits. They proceed from the view that embryos have neither the moral status of persons nor that of mere cells; because of their special connection with the human community, they enjoy an intermediate position that requires that they be treated with special respect. The National Bioethics Advisory Commission (NBAC) has debated the ethics of ES and EG research and recommended a partial lifting of the embryo research ban so that research using surplus embryos can be eligible for federal funding. Many people argue that creating embryos for research does not recognize the special status of the human embryo. Some argue that there is no important moral difference between doing research on embryos originally created for reproduction and doing research on embryos specifically created for that purpose. NBAC decided, however, to recommend that funding be available only for research on surplus embryos. Finally, ES cell research implicates the cloning debate. Many countries have policies forbidding the use of cloning, or somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), to create a human being (reproductive cloning). It is possible, however, to use SCNT to create embryos as a source of ES cells. A patient can donate a tissue, and by means of SCNT it is possible to create a source of ES cells with that patient's DNA. Consequently, this therapeutic cloning technique offers the potential to create tissues for transplantation that exactly match the recipient's tissues. ES and EG cell research offers the potential of great medical benefit, but it also raises difficult ethical issues and complicates policy development. This turbulent area of research will surely command our attention well into the next millennium. Lori P. Knowles is Associate for Law and Bioethics and Erik Parens is Associate for Philosophical Studies at the Hastings Center, Garrison, N.Y.

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