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Biologists propose alternative to 'cloning'

Offputting terminology

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Biologists would like people to stop talking about "therapeutic cloning" because it gives too many the heebie-jeebies.

Instead, a group of biologists would like to refer to the process as "somatic nuclear cell transfer", New Scientist reports. This would distinguish the process of cloning embryos for harvesting stem cells from other kinds of cloning, such as reproductive cloning.

But the nomenclature just seems to have confused people.

Researchers at the Genetics and Public Policy Centre in Washington surveyed 2,000 people, seeking their views on deriving stem cells from cloned embryos. They asked 1,000 whether or not they approved of using cloned embryos and 1,000 about their feelings towards somatic nuclear cell transfer (SNCT).

The half asked about SNCT were far more likely to approve of the process, with 49 per cent giving it the thumbs up, compared to 29 per cent in the cloning group.

Alone, this might have been encouraging, but the researchers also asked about using SCNT to make a baby.

Again, the new terminology elicited a much more positive response raising the approval rating, from 10 to 24 per cent, suggesting that people are more likely to approve of something if they don't really know what it is. ®

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