Ian Wilmut’s foray into cloning Dolly has proved to be an appetizing entrée to mankind, with the next step being the cloning of endangered species, and eventually, humans. Although his team of researchers had qualified to the public that it is unethical to clone humans1, the very prospect of being able to replicate creatures of our own kind is nevertheless enticing.
Think of all the possible benefits that make many scientists prepared to cross those ethical boundaries: Firstly, couples who have tried a long time for identical twins, triplets (or even quintuplets!) may now be able to have them by producing clones from a single embryonic cell. Secondly, the cloning of genetically altered cells or “genetically superior” cells, can allow for genetic selection of more desirable traits such as slim build, reduced genetic predisposition to cancer, etc. Thirdly, being able to mass-produce subjects for experimentation may eventually become a cheap alternative compared to paying for non-clones, and can even speed up the pace at which life science is advancing. Human cloning will also kick-start a whole new business where surrogate mothers offer their wombs for rent. This can be an attractive source of livelihood for less-educated people in poor countries.
Much as cloning of humans is enticing, there are a host of issues over its practicality besides the risks involved and the low success rates.2 For one, genetic selection via cloning will result in reduced genetic diversity, and the well being of the genetically similar population will be at stake. We fail to realize that sometimes, even people with certain genetic defects have something to offer us. For example, the deaf community can teach us abou...
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...r bit to highlight both positive and negative aspects of cloning humans, such that the public can make an informed decision whether or not to take part in activities involving human cloning.
1. Beardsley, Tim. A Clone in Sheep's Clothing. <http://www.sciam.com/ article.cfm?articleID=0009B07D-BD40-1C59-B882809EC588ED9F>
2. Beardsley, Tim. A Clone in Sheep's Clothing. <http://www.sciam.com/ article.cfm?articleID=0009B07D-BD40-1C59-B882809EC588ED9F>
3. Wade, Nicholas. Genes Tell New Story on the Spread of Man. <http:// nytimes.qpass.com/search/restricted/>
4. Wade, Nicholas. In Tiny Cells, Glimpses of Body’s Master Plan.
5. Beardsley, Tim. A Clone in Sheep's Clothing. <http://www.sciam.com/ article.cfm?articleID=0009B07D-BD40-1C59-B882809EC588ED9F>
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