The Instigator
Naoi
Pro (for)
Winning
9 Points
The Contender
Chuz-Life
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Parthenogenetic stem cells are not embryos.

Do you like this debate?NoYes+2
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Naoi
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/16/2011 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,178 times Debate No: 19334
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (11)
Votes (2)

 

Naoi

Pro

The US Federal funding ban on embryonic stem cell research should not apply to parthenogenetic stem cell research. I make this claim based on two premises:

  1. A parthenote cannot become a viable fetus, and therefore does not hold the same ethical ambiguity that using an embryo does.

  2. The US Federal research ban is intended to protect viable human embryos, but not their precursors: unfertilized eggs and sperm.


To quote a November 2011 Scientific American article,


"Human embryonic stem cells typically come from fertilized eggs. In 2007, however, scientists at International Stem Cell, a California-based biotech firm, reported the first successful creation of human stem cell lines from unfertilized eggs. They used a process called parthenogenesis, in which researchers use chemicals to induce the egg to begin developing as if it had been fertilized. The egg—called a parthenote—behaves just like an embryo in the early stages of division. Because it contains no genetic material from a father, however, it cannot develop into a viable fetus." [1]


For these reasons, I say the NIH guidelines and federal laws should not define parthenotes as embryos and federal funding should be made available for research based on parthenogenetic stem cell derived lines.


[1] http://www.scientificamerican.com...


Chuz-Life

Con

Many thanks to my opponent 'Pro' for presenting this debate challenge.

It's clear that my opponent has a high regard for life and has no lack of concern for the ethics that come into play in a situation where an embryo CAN"become a viable fetus." As Pro quoted from the link he provided;

  • A parthenote cannot become a viable fetus, and therefore does not hold the same ethical ambiguity that using an embryo does.

I hope to inform my opponent during this debate that an embryo created by way of "Parthenogenesis" actually can go on to become a 'viable fetus.'

As to my opponents 2nd comment;

  • The US Federal research ban is intended to protect viable human embryos, but not their precursors: unfertilized eggs and sperm.

My opponent's claim is a bit misleading. The ban is on the use of Federal funds for research involving the creation of embryos (new cell lines) viable or not for use in Stem cell research.

LINK: http://en.wikipedia.org...

My question for Pro is this; "If I can show you that an embryo created by parthenogenesis can in fact be brought to term or at the very least can become a 'viable fetus' will you agree that the ban should in fact remain in place against using Federal funds for that practice?"


Debate Round No. 1
Naoi

Pro

My opponent raises an excellent point regarding my second premise. The Federal research ban does not specifically protect human embryos, only prevent the use of Federal funds for research activities which may harm or destroy human embryos.


My premise is that the intent or purpose of the Federal research ban is ultimately to prevent ethically questionable research practices on the beginning of a human life. Whether life begins at the point of fertilization, first heart beat or some other point is an issue of much public debate. But one clear fact is that at the point of fertilization the new embryo has the potential to develop into a human child, given the right care and conditions.


I assert that the Federal research ban seeks to protect embryos during this period of moral and legal limbo between “potential” and “life”, until such time as the question of when life begins has been answered to the public’s satisfaction.


In order to better clarify this matter, I attempted to find the actual text of the relevant legislation. Admittedly, I am no lawyer, but searching the Library of Congress [1] returned a consistent definition of a human embryo as


“any organism…that is derived by fertilization, parthenogenesis , cloning, or any other means from one or more human gametes or human diploid cells.” [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]


And a definition for viable as


“material obtained from the in vitro fertilization process that is transferable into the womb.” [6]


If Con can show that an embryo created by parthenogenesis is in fact a viable fetus, and could potentially be brought to term, then yes I will concede that it is appropriate for them to fall under the Federal research ban.


However, I do not see how this is possible. Humans have 46 chromosomes, 23 from each parent (see [7] for an excellent illustration). Given that the egg only has one set (23) of these chromosomes, how could stem cells created by parthenogenesis ever become a viable fetus capable of developing into a healthy child? It is missing a full 1/2 of its chromosomes!


Therefore I maintain that stem cells created by parthenogenesis should not be included in the above definition of an embryo.



#1 http://thomas.loc.gov...


#2 S.30 -- Hope Offered through Principled and Ethical Stem Cell Research Act http://www.gpo.gov...


#3 H.R.2951 -- Patients First Act of 2011 http://www.gpo.gov...


#4 S.88 -- Ethical Stem Cell Research Tax Credit Act of 2011 http://www.gpo.gov...


#5 S.1557 -- Respect for Life Pluripotent Stem Cell Act of 2005 http://www.gpo.gov...


#6 S.51 -- Pluripotent Stem Cell Therapy Enhancement Act of 2007 http://www.gpo.gov...


#7 http://en.wikipedia.org...

Chuz-Life

Con

Pro- posted; "My opponent raises an excellent point regarding my second premise. The Federal research ban does not specifically protect human embryos, only prevent the use of Federal funds for research activities which may harm or destroy human embryos."

I would like to ad the fact that the Federal Research ban also forbids the "creation of new embryos" for the purpose of such research.

Pro added; "I assert that the Federal research ban seeks to protect embryos during this period of moral and legal limbo between “potential” and “life”, until such time as the question of when life begins has been answered to the public’s satisfaction."

I can appreciate my opponent (Pro's) assertion and what it is based upon. I used to hold a very similar opinion myself. However, as I stated above it is not unclear to an increasing number of people as to when and how a human being's life begins. As Human beings, we do not undergo 'metamorphosis' in our life cycles. We (unlike frogs, butterflies, etc) are the same organism at the moment of a successful fertilization/ conception that we are when we reach adulthood.

We (humans) don't have sex, create an organism that is "less than a human being" and have that organism eventually "morph" into something we will finally accept as a "child."

Biologically, It's already a child even at conception.

My opponent (Pro) again continued, saying; "In order to better clarify this matter, I attempted to find the actual text of the relevant legislation. Admittedly, I am no lawyer, but searching the Library of Congress [1] returned a consistent definition of a human embryo as


“any organism…that is derived by fertilization, parthenogenesis , cloning, or any other means from one or more human gametes or human diploid cells.”


It is moist interesting that my opponent has provided one of the very definitions that directly undermines his claim that "Parthenogenetic stem cells are not embryos." By the very definition Pro has provided, they ARE. Please note the bolded text in the definition.

My opponent then added the term viability to the debate which is NOT required to determine what an embryo is, but rather a term to assess it's ability to continue living.

Quote; "And a definition for viable as


“material obtained from the in vitro fertilization process that is transferable into the womb.”


It's worth noting that even a dead embryo could be transferred to a womb. An ability to be transferred (dead or alive) will not change what the embryo is (or was).

Pro posted; "If Con can show that an embryo created by parthenogenesis is in fact a viable fetus, and could potentially be brought to term, then yes I will concede that it is appropriate for them to fall under the Federal research ban."

I thank Pro for the above comment as it is very much a fact that an embryo created by parthenogenesis can be brought to term. Dolly the sheep was created from an embryo using this method.

http://scienceray.com...

See Comments
Debate Round No. 2
Naoi

Pro


I must apologize for the misunderstanding I have caused my opponent. The congressional definition does indeed list pathenogenesis. However, my contention is that it is improper to include parthenogenesis on that list as it cannot result in a viable embryo in humans.


I do agree with my opponent on the poor definition of “viable” used in the congressional bill. By that definition a tennis ball would be considered viable. I believe the phrase, “and could be brought to term” needs to be added to make the definition meaningful.


I’m afraid Con is mistaken on the origin of Dolly the sheep. Dolly was in fact a product of Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT, often simply known as “cloning”) [1] [2], which undisputedly results in a viable embryo. SCNT is considerably different from parthenogenesis, most notably in that SCNT results in a full set of chromosomes taken from an adult cell while parthenogenesis only results in a half set (only inheriting the half from the egg and without the complimenting half from the sperm). Additionally, SCNT does not transfer all of the original genetic information as the mitochondrial DNA is not transferred [3] where as parthenogenesis does not result in a hybridized DNA mix. As you can see these two processes are quite distinct and cannot be considered evidence for one another.


Parthenogenesis occurs as a natural mode of reproduction in many plants and invertebrates, and even some reptiles and sharks [4]. However, parthenogenesis does not occur naturally in mammals, and artificially induced parthenogenesis does not result in a viable embryo.


“Mammalian parthenogenetic embryos invariably die in mid-gestation from imprinted gene defects and placental hypoplasia. Based on chimera experiments, trophoblastic proliferation is supposed to be inhibited in the absence of a male genome.” [5]


Essentially, without key functions of the male half of the genome (which is absent in parthenogenesis) a fetus cannot develop. In cases where this is reintroduced in some way, either by creating a chimera with a normal embryo or by using some form of nuclear transfer, embryos have been brought to term [5]. But those methods will already result in a viable embryo. In essence, adding cells derived from parthenogenesis to an existing embryo will not necessarily stop the embryo from developing, and may result in a perfectly healthy birth. However, parthenogenesis itself will not result in a viable embryo.


In conclusion: Parthenogenesis should not be included on the congressional definition of an embryo because, as I have shown, it cannot create a human life. Therefore, stem cells created from parthenogenesis should not be restricted under the Federal research ban.



#1 http://en.wikipedia.org... (broken link, click "sheep")


#2 http://adsabs.harvard.edu...


#3 http://en.wikipedia.org...


#4 http://en.wikipedia.org...


#5 http://dev.biologists.org...


Chuz-Life

Con

It seems that my opponent has fixed his entire premise on his understanding that a human embryo created by way of "parthenogenesis" can not result in a "viable embryo" in humans.

The biological fact is that it already is a human being even in the first days of it's life. If it is alive, it must be somewhat able to remain so for at least a little while and to that extent it's viability is somewhat relative to it's condition..

If it were completely non viable, it would already be dead.

So, let's not fool ourselves, we are speaking of a human individual organism that genetically engineered to die sooner rather than later.

It's still a human being and for that reason alone, I support the bans for use of federal dollars to fund such research on them.

My opponent Posted:"SCNT is considerably different from parthenogenesis, most notably in that SCNT results in a full set of chromosomes taken from an adult cell while parthenogenesis only results in a half set (only inheriting the half from the egg and without the complimenting half from the sperm)."

My opponent is only partially correct with this assertion. In Parthenogenesis, yes any young from an egg that does not undergo meiosis will remain "haploid" and will not live very long.

However, it is worth nothing that a genetically defective "Young" of a parent is still the "young" of his or her parent.

We are still talking about lab created HUMAN beings same as we would be talking about a non defective child created for the purposes of Invitro fertilization for example.

The articles my opponent cites do not explain how stem cells from a haploid human embryo created by way of "Parthenogenesis" can suddenly switch to beings cells with a full chromosome count, for use to say replace nerve cells or heart muscle, etc. But I digress.

My opponent closed with the following remark; "Parthenogenesis should not be included on the congressional definition of an embryo because, as I have shown, it cannot create a human life. Therefore, stem cells created from parthenogenesis should not be restricted under the Federal research ban."

To which I must point out that the egg cell manipulated to behave like a "parthenogenic" embryo most certainly is an embryo. Just as are those which occur in naturally in certain reptiles, plants and fish.

My opponent says that these "embryos" can not "create human life" even as he ignores that they themselves already ARE 'human lives.'

They are genetically defective. True

They are destined to die (we all are). Also true

But they are human beings in the earliest stages of their lives, regardless.

Please vote Con if you agree and oppose the use of Federal dollars to fund research on this form of genetic experimentation on lab created human beings.


Debate Round No. 3
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Chuz-Life 5 years ago
Chuz-Life
Interesting that debates are won and lost on such technicalities as though it were a Chess game and as if there is no real meaning or consequences.

I most certainly did not try to re-define "viability."

I did however attempt to make the point that "viability" is very relative and subjective.

I will accept this defeat (if I must) as several interesting lessons learned.
Posted by Chrysippus 5 years ago
Chrysippus
Although I agree with Con's position, this debate was a matter of definitions. Con narrowed the debate down to Pro's statement that a parthenogenetic foetus is not viable. Pro was able to establish that fact, and con was left without another line of attack on the real resolution: the US Federal funding ban on embryonic stem cell research should not apply to parthenogenetic stem cell research.

In the last round, Con attempted to redefine "viable" to support his argument; this equates to adding arguments after one's opponent can no longer respond, and loses Con the conduct point.

Sources goes to Pro; he provided a variety of reputable sources, while Con's argument went almost unsourced.

I do not think parthenogenetic embryos should be used in stem-cell research, any more an any other embryo; but Pro won this debate.
Posted by Chuz-Life 5 years ago
Chuz-Life
Seriously, we can't get no more input on this debate than this?

Where is everyone?
Posted by Naoi 5 years ago
Naoi
Thank you as well, Chuz, for an awesome first DDO debate! I have gained a greater appreciation for the arguments supporting the ban in this case, and enjoined read your arguments.
Posted by Chuz-Life 5 years ago
Chuz-Life
I forgot to thank my opponent Naoi for an awesome and informative debate.

Great job on your part naoi! Very civil and professional!
Posted by Chuz-Life 5 years ago
Chuz-Life
Thanks for making it back in time, Naoi and congrats one a very well written argument. I can see some points that I will have to work a little harder than I expected to address.

That's a good thing though. I'm not complaining.

Please be patient as I work on my response.
Posted by Naoi 5 years ago
Naoi
Chuz, I ran out of room in my argument, but I want to share a few excellent resources you may find helpful. They are the NIH ethics and policy summary regarding stem cells.

http://stemcells.nih.gov...
http://stemcells.nih.gov...
Posted by Naoi 5 years ago
Naoi
Sorry for the wait, Chuz. I won't forfeit. Yesterday was just busier than I expected. I should have something up in a few hours.
Posted by Chuz-Life 5 years ago
Chuz-Life
Come on now, Naoi....please don't forfeit on me.
Posted by Naoi 5 years ago
Naoi
Chuz, I'm glad you decided to join me in this debate, I look forward to hearing your arguments!
~Naoi
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Chrysippus 5 years ago
Chrysippus
NaoiChuz-LifeTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: See comment.
Vote Placed by wiploc 5 years ago
wiploc
NaoiChuz-LifeTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Con offered to prove that parthenogenetic cells are viable, and hung his hat on that particular issue. Then he, in effect, redefines viable to mean "dying." That dog won't hunt. Pro pointed out that the cells really aren't viable, because they can't survive, which is what "viable" means. Victory: Pro.