Slippery slope

When people remember the 1960s they usually think of Vietnam, cultural upheaval and assorted liberation movements. But the ’60s should also be remembered as the time when postwar medical technology blossomed. The decade witnessed the advent of kidney dialysis, organ transplantation, the birth-control pill, intensive-care units, the artificial respirator, prenatal diagnosis and the first glimmering of the genetic revolution. Together, these may be the real long-term legacy of the era.

While hardly the most important issue then, the possibility of human cloning was debated during the ’60s. Tadpoles had been cloned, and there was every expectation that humans soon would be. While this prospect brought a shudder to most people, a few scientists—among them the Nobel laureate geneticist Joshua Lederberg—were not put off. They welcomed the possibility as a sign of progress.

 

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