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Genetically modified crops


Cloning and animal experiments
James Watson Scientist
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I used to worry that it would be bad. No, you know, if a mother had lost a perfect 6-year- old son and you could bring him back, and he was a perfect 6-year-old son, and if, clones will be clones, but because of epigenetic things I really don’t know to what extent, you know, the personality of the clone will be identical to that. We wouldn’t know whether it’s bad until we do it, so I guess under that argument I would do it. Saying that one clone isn’t like one nuclear bomb set off in Piccadilly Circus, it won't change the world. The other would! So we can exaggerate. It’s something we can, no, you could say well it proves it can be done and therefore the people of Singapore are just going to do it and we’re going to, we’ll just encourage people to be less responsible to ourselves. I think that’s sort of dismissing other people as not being sensible. So the older I get the more I would let happen.
So do you think in animal experimentation for example there are any limits to what you should be able to do, given that it’s an important enough question or the need is important enough?
No. No, I think the saving of one human life I just think you have to make a distinction between humans and any other form of life, you know. They’re 1,000 times or 100,000, they’re just not in the same league. If you have to kill all the mice in the world in order to save one human being, I’d probably do it.
How about chimpanzees, how many chimpanzees?
I don’t like chimpanzees, I’ll get rid of all! They’re particularly, you know, you know, and I’ll get rid of baboons even faster. A gorillas no, they seem, you know, they’re more like us. But I don’t like, you know, a chimp is too violent for me to have affection for, and I think it takes a rather awkward person to really like chimps.

American molecular biologist James Dewey Watson is probably best known for discovering the structure of DNA for which he was jointly awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins. His long career has seen him teaching at Harvard and Caltech, and taking over the directorship of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York. From 1988 to 1992, James Watson was head of the Human Genome Project at the National Institutes of Health. His current research focuses on the study of cancer.

Listeners: Martin Raff Walter Gratzer

Martin Raff is a Canadian-born neurologist and research biologist who has made important contributions to immunology and cell development. He has a special interest in apoptosis, the phenomenon of cell death.



Listen to Martin Raff at Web of Stories



Walter Gratzer is Emeritus Professor of Biophysical Chemistry at King's College London, and was for most of his research career a member of the scientific staff of the Medical Research Council. He is the author of several books on popular science. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard and has known Jim Watson since that time

Duration: 3 minutes, 6 seconds

Date story recorded: November 2008 and October 2009

Date story went live: 18 June 2010