Cook, Michael
398 Articles at

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Currently showing only those Articles posted in: 2014

New! A deal with the devil

Why did American officials refuse to prosecute Japanese doctors who had committed horrendous crimes in World War II?

Date posted: 2014-04-18

New! Tearful apology from Obokata

The Japanese woman at the centre of the latest stem cell scandal, Haruko Obokata, apologised tearfully for her "carelessness, ignorance and immaturity" at a press conference this week.

Date posted: 2014-04-18

New! New service creates virtual babies for worried mothers

An American businesswoman and an Ivy League scientist have teamed up to create a sophisticated service for reducing genetic diseases for lesbian couples and single women.

Date posted: 2014-04-18

New! Belgian intensive care doctors back involuntary euthanasia

Involuntary euthanasia is acceptable medical treatment, according to a recent official statement by the Belgian Society of Intensive Care Medicine. Although voluntary euthanasia is legal is Belgium under some circumstances, involuntary euthanasia is basically illegal. But the Society wants to be able to euthanase patients who do not appear to have long to live.

Date posted: 2014-04-18

New! Stem cell debacle déjà vu

Once again, a major advance in stem cell science has been tainted by allegations of fraud. A leading research centre in Japan, the RIKEN Institute, has apologised for "research misconduct" by a young scientist who had found an astonishing new method for producing pluripotent stem cells.

Date posted: 2014-04-18

New! The first harm is the biggest harm

Britain's first same-sex marriages will take place this coming weekend. In May Sir Elton John and his partner David Furnish plan to exchange vows, making them spouses as well as parents to their two sons, Zachary and Elijah. Jubilant campaigners say that fears of an impending social calamity are nonsense.

Date posted: 2014-04-17

New! Whole genome sequencing for infants needs careful study

Should whole-genome sequencing be used in public-health programs which screen newborns for rare conditions? That question is likely to stir debate in coming years in many of the 60+ countries that provide newborn screening, as whole-genome sequencing (WGS) becomes increasingly affordable and reliable.

Date posted: 2014-04-13

New! "Therapeutic cloning" back on the boil

After a couple of years in hibernation, the notion of "therapeutic cloning" is once again in the headlines. The latest development comes from Shoukhrat Mitalipov, a Russian-educated researcher at Oregon Health and Science University.

Date posted: 2014-04-13

New! Why are we condemning sperm donor anonymity, asks bioethicist

Donor conception is often shrouded in secrecy. At age 7, only about half of children know that they were conceived with donor eggs; the figure for donor sperm is only about one-quarter. Legislation forcing IVF clinics to give access to the identity of the donors is spreading.

Date posted: 2014-04-13

New! Doubt mount about new stem cell paper

The world's leading science journal, Nature, may end up with egg on its face as complaints mount about a recent paper on a radical new method of creating pluripotent stem cells.

Date posted: 2014-04-13

New! Assisted suicide is too dangerous in times of economic crisis, says disabled UK peer

Moves to legalise assisted suicide in Britain are a threat to the disabled during a time of economic hardship, says Baroness Campbell of Surbiton, a disabled peer.

Date posted: 2014-04-13

New! Force-feeding continues at Guantanamo Bay

A US federal court recently declined to stop force-feeding of detainees at Guantánamo Bay. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit refused to issue a preliminary injunction.

Date posted: 2014-04-13

New! Analysis of legal assisted suicide in Switzerland

An extensive survey of assisted suicide in Switzerland between 2003 and 2008 has found that the most vulnerable people are women, people who live alone or people who are divorced. People who ask for assisted suicide tend to be wealthier and better educated.

Date posted: 2014-04-13

New! Stop fretting about 3-parent embryos and get ready for "multiplex parenting"

The controversy over three-parent embryos could soon be old hat. Writing in one of the world's leading journals, one of Britain's best-known bioethicists has outlined a strategy for creating children with four or more genetic parents. He calls it "multiplex parenting".

Date posted: 2014-04-13

New! No white flag. Ever.

Too much is at stake to surrender in the fight against same-sex marriage.

Date posted: 2014-04-13

New! Barcoding embryos

Barcoding embryos another version of the number tattooed on the forearm of the Polish shopkeeper. Embryos, children actually, are to be branded like cattle and assigned numbers instead of names. Loving parents give a gestating child a name, not a barcode. Despite all the promotional photos of glowing mums and gurgling babies, IVF is becoming a lot less like love and a lot more like manufacturing.

Date posted: 2014-04-13

Official complaint lodged against leading Belgian euthanasia doctor

After 11 years of participation in euthanasia, an official complaint has finally been lodged with the Belgian Medical Association against the leading practitioner in Belgium, Dr Wim Distelmans. In a three-page letter Tom Mortier and Dr Georges Casteur allege that Distelmans did not have the expertise to evaluate whether Mortier's mother, Godelieve De Troyer, was ready for voluntary euthanasia.

Date posted: 2014-03-01

US scientists were "accomplices after the fact" in Japanese doctors' war crimes

All of contemporary bioethics springs from the Nuremberg Doctors Trial in 1947. Seven Nazi doctors and officials were hanged and nine received severe prison sentences for performing experiments on an estimated 25,000 prisoners in concentration camps without their consent. Only about 1,200 died but many were maimed and psychologically scarred.

Date posted: 2014-03-01

Belgian lower house passes child euthanasia bill

A bill permitting euthanasia for children has passed the lower house of the Belgian Parliament by a vote of 86 to 44, with 12 abstentions. The parties gave their members a free vote on the controversial issue.

Date posted: 2014-03-01

FDA to study "three-parent embryos"

On February 25 and 26 the US Food and Drug Administration will discuss the possibility of legalising three-parent embryos - or, in scientific lingo, "oocyte modification in assisted reproduction for the prevention of transmission of mitochondrial disease or treatment of infertility".

Date posted: 2014-03-01

New STAP stem cells questioned

After the high tide of enthusiasm comes the ebb tide of scepticism. The new STAP cells discovered by a team of researchers from Japan and Boston are being questioned by stem cell scientists.

Date posted: 2014-03-01

The UN's zero-compliance with zero tolerance of abuse

Why is the UN criticising the Catholic Church? It can't control its own soldiers.

Date posted: 2014-02-25

Synthetic gametes could enable homosexuals to have children

With advances in stem cell technology constantly advancing, the dream of artificial (or synthetic) gametes comes ever closer. Last September Maastricht University, in the Netherlands, hosted a conference on "Artificial Gametes: Science and Ethics" (no papers available at the moment).

Date posted: 2014-02-25

We must stand firm on brain-death standard, says NEJM

Two recent controversies over "brain-dead" patients have obviously flustered some medical ethicists. Writing in a commentary in the New England Journal of Medicine, David C. Magnus, Benjamin S. Wilfond, and Art Caplan insist that the definition of death as brain death must be maintained.

Date posted: 2014-02-25

Iran, the fertility capital of the Middle East

Iran has become the fertility capital of the Muslim Middle East, reports the magazine Foreign Policy.

Date posted: 2014-02-25

Is IVF overused, ask researchers

Hard questions need to be asked about the steep rise in IVF around the world, says the Evidence Based IVF Group.

Date posted: 2014-02-25

More questions about Belgian euthanasia

Assertions that euthanasia in Belgium is safe and voluntary have been undermined by a recently-published study in the Journal of Medical Ethics. A survey of end-of-life decisions made by Flemish doctors in 2007 has found that in nearly 80% of cases of terminal sedation, there was no explicit request from the patient. Terminal sedation, or relieving the distress of dying patients by heavily sedating them, accounts for nearly 10% of all deaths in Flanders.

Date posted: 2014-02-25

Pregnant Texas woman removed from life support

Texas woman Marlise Muñoz was disconnected from life support last Sunday. All cardiac function ceased within a few minutes. Her body was released to her family, ending a nation-wide debate over reproductive rights, brain death, and advance directives.

Date posted: 2014-02-25

Disgraced South Korean cloning expert making a comeback

This year marks the tenth anniversary of what may have been the most spectacular scientific fraud of the last 100 years: Hwang Woo-suk's claim that he had cloned human embryos. It made him a scientific celebrity everywhere, but especially in South Korea. The fraudulent data and ethical lapses, however, soon emerged and his career seemed over, his name a byword for scientific infamy.

Date posted: 2014-02-25

Stunning discovery creates ethical stem cells

Immersing cells in acid creates pluripotent stem cells? Who could believe that? But it could be the future.

Date posted: 2014-02-23

At last, a President who is tough on gay marriage! But in Ecuador?

It would be hard to find a national leader whose leftist credentials have been more brightly burnished than Rafael Correa, Ecuador's president since 2007. He allied himself with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, threatened to renege on the national debt, bashed American oil companies, gave Wikileaks leader Julian Assange asylum in Ecuador's embassy in London, expelled an American ambassador, and denounced the pro-privatization, free-market "Washington Consensus".

Date posted: 2014-01-14