Scientists Get a Bad Rap on Cloning

All right, the gloves are off! Your opinion- page article "The Cloning Sequel - Don't Be Surprised" (March 14) is not only an attempt to sensationalize for professional profit, but a personal affront to scientists everywhere.

Our society has put science on a pedestal, viewing scientists as shamans, with little regard to the politics or consumer whim that drives applications of scientific discoveries - thus neatly dodging responsibility for developments. In general, society becomes disappointed in scientists when we fail to live up to the "godhood" expected of us. This disappointment is then expressed as accusations of vainglorious self-promotion on the part of scientists, people who are just following their vocation.

Regarding the claim "and where they [scientists] lead, the market tends to follow," we contend that it is the other way around. The marketplace is increasingly setting the direction for scientific inquiry as the budget for government-funded general research and development diminishes.

Responsibility for repercussions of cloning will lay equally with the inventors, private industry, and consumers, just as the environmental degradation with which we struggle today is the responsibility of inventors, industry, and our materialistic society.

Until we have found a way to deal with the more traditional methods for breeding fear, ignorance, and basic human greed, it is a mistake to be worried about cloning humans.

You should strive harder to hit the right targets with your editorial volleys, and the Monitor should be more responsible for accuracy. To date there have been no "cloned" monkeys. The Oregon researchers performed an embryo-splitting procedure that artificially produced the equivalent of identical twins, which has been mistakenly reported in the popular press as "cloning."

Michael Kubler

Alexis Howell-Kubler

San Diego, Calif.

Bison in Yellowstone

Regarding "Last Stand for Bison Herd at Yellowstone National Park?" (Feb. 21): There have been bison in the park for all of this century. Why, then, is there such a problem now?

Because they stopped managing them - letting them proliferate from a few hundred in the 1960s to about 3,500 this year, a record high!

Then this harsh winter came along. The overgrazed park could not support that many bison. It is just as important that our parks and wildlife refuges not be overgrazed as any other land. Yellowstone National Park is a huge park - over 2.2 million acres. It could (as in earlier years when they were managed) support a nice herd of bison.

I support the rangers in their shooting of the bison. It is a much more humane death than starving - whether in the Park or not. To let them pour out on other lands or overgraze creates a bigger problem. Unless we intend to give the whole country to the wildlife we are going to have to draw the line somewhere!

Oneta Greet

Ten Sleep, Wyo.

Bridging a geography gap

I read with great interest, and some confusion, the "Letter From San Francisco - Abridged Version of a California Split" (March 12).

I thought the sun rose in the east and set in the west, but the article says the cantilever span was the western portion of the bridge.

I checked today the location of the sun (just to make sure I hadn't missed some momentous celestial occurrence), and to my delight, the sun rose as usual in the east. I then checked the location of the Bay Bridge (from my wonderful vantage inside a Golden Gate Transit Bus crossing the Golden Gate Bridge). And, yes, the beautiful portion of the Bay Bridge still goes from Yerba Buena Island to San Francisco, and the ugly portion still runs between Yerba Buena Island and Oakland. In other words, the cantilever section, the one causing all the upset, is the eastern portion of the Bay Bridge.

Karen Allen

Corte Madera, Calif.

Your letters are welcome. Letters should be mailed to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, faxed to 617-450-2317, or e-mailed (200 words maximum) to oped@csps.com

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