Cloning - The Science - Cloning could one day cure diseases
like Parkinsonâ€™s, diabetes and even heart disease. But it
could also be used to make a copy of a human being. (10/31/02)
Cloning - The Ethics - The United States bars government-funded
scientists from cloning human cells to cure diseases. But the
nation has not outlawed cloning a human being. (10/31/02)
Elsewhere on the web
Claim First Cloned Baby
and Medical Aspects of Human Reproductive Cloning" -
Cloning Ban Delayed
With the reported birth of the first human clone comes a renewed campaign to
outlaw reproductive cloning.
This ScienCentral News video reports that mainstream scientists and ethicists
predict the worst.
The announcement of the birth of “Eve”—a baby girl apparently
cloned by Clonaid, a
company with ties to the Raelian religious sect—has sparked outrage
and condemnation both from scientists and ethicists. Chances are, efforts
to outlaw human cloning will be redoubled, even though the scientific establishment
has cast serious doubt about the veracity of Clonaidâ€™s claim.
Leading medical ethicist George Annas, who chairs the Health Law Department
at Boston Universityâ€™s School of Public Health, has urged that reproductive
cloning be banned long before it could be attempted. Annas, who founded Global
Lawyers and Physicians, a human rights organization working on a proposed
United Nations treaty to outlaw reproductive cloning, thinks that an announcement
like Clonaidâ€™s might help bring on the ban.
Annas believes cloning is wrong for ethical reasons. “Even in this hypothetical
world that you could possibly do this in a safe manner without subjecting
women and children to horrible disabilities and death, even in that situation
it would be wrong for the children," Annas says. "It would be treating
the children like products, like pets in a sense, and in a sense depriving
them of their human dignity."
He says he hopes that the first cloned baby is healthy. But if not, “That'll
trigger a ban almost immediately,” he says.
That cloning has not been proven safe is at the center of an ongoing debate.
World cloning expert, Rudolf
Jaenisch points out that cloned animalsâ€™ genes simply donâ€™t
function properly, causing defects over time. Cloned humans, he fears, would
suffer the same fate. “Some will be more abnormal so they die very early,
and some may be less abnormal and they develop maybe to school children, but
then they might be very abnormal like these cloned animals,” says Jaenisch.
In cloning, the nucleus from an egg cell is replaced with the nucleus from
a mature adult body cell, a process referred to as somatic cell nuclear transfer
Cloning: The Science). Jaenisch explains that this short-cuts the normal
process of sperm and egg and maturation, which normally take months and years,
“This very complex process assures that the two gametes, the mature sperm
and the mature egg… can now activate the correct way when they come
together at fertilization, to direct development of a new organism,"
Jaenisch says, adding that he is surprised that cloned animals have survived
But Mike West, president of Advanced
Cell Technology, is not at all surprised. West, whose company has cloned
dozens of prized dairy and beef cattle, says, “the cloning of human
beings is probably entirely possible to do."
While West thinks animal cloning is a useful technique that is well on its
way to being practical and cost-effective, and even though he feels we know
more about human embryos than any other animalsâ€™, he doesnâ€™t support
cloning a human. “I have to say, the reason for not doing it is that
we don't know that it's safe, and no one can dispute that,” West says.
Scientists and ethicists can, however, agree on one thing: if Eve is indeed
what her creators claim, she deserves the same respect and consideration given
any other child. Says George Annas, “We shouldn't do it again, but obviously
this child should be treated with the same human rights and dignity as any
other child… to take care of it, shelter it and not make an international
media event out of this child's life.”