Patterico's Pontifications


What’s Wrong with Human Clones?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:04 pm


Allahpundit asks:

What’s the problem? They’re no more genetically related than identical twins. In fact, they’re less related, since they’re being carried to term by a different mother, which means they have different mitochondrial DNA.

I’ve wondered the same thing for some time. Having the same genes does not make two people the same, and people who know identical twins know this better than most. I have three sisters, two of whom are identical twins (and one of those has a blog!). I can tell you that they are very different people.

I can see issues with genetic engineering, but I’m not particularly freaked out by them. I note that Allahpundit (who also isn’t bothered) is an athiest, and I’m an agnostic. Is this a religious thing?

59 Responses to “What’s Wrong with Human Clones?”

  1. I’m pretty sure they would still have the same mitochondial DNA…

    It is inherited from the biological mother, not the birth mother.

    Scott Jacobs (90ff96)

  2. Actually not, Scott. Cloning works as follows, briefly: donor nucleus is transplanted into recipient egg. Thus, the mitochondria are not transplanted!

    Eric Blair (ad3775)

  3. With the newer form of stem cell technology,IPS, a mammalian clone that includes the mitochondria is theoretically possible.

    These induced pluripotent stem cells can be made from skin cells, and appear to act just like embryonic stem cells. So it should be possible to grow an embryo from them. That is legally forbidden for humans, but allowed for animals.

    My concern with human cloning is that the science is far from perfected. Animal cloning doesn’t work that well, and has a high danger of creating a defective animal. That’s considered okay for Holsteins, but ethically wrong for humans.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  4. My concern would be who gets to pick who gets cloned …

    JD (2e8bd8)

  5. Oh, and the recipient egg’s nucleus is removed or inactivated.

    So the clone is NOT genetically identical to the “original.” I am going to leave out stochastic developmental effects, or environmental influences during embryogenesis.

    And mitochondria actually have quite a bit of influence on us—they used to be seen as “energy generators” for the cell, but they are more than that.

    A few years ago, a reproductive clinic offered to “refresh” eggs from older woman with injections (into the egg) of cytoplasm taken from younger woman. The claim was that eggs so treated had a higher success rate for IVF.

    And they did.

    But the resultant zygotes had “chimeric” mitochondria—each cell had mixtures of two types of mitochondria.

    Is this important? Who knows—but it is expressly forbidden for us to do germ line genetic modification of humans. The clinic didn’t think it through.

    Anyway, the issue is simple, Patterico. The history of cloning is filled with a horrifically low success rate (I don’t know of any cloning procedure that works more than 1% of the time). And the manipulations lead to some impressive developmental problems (though improved technology is helping with that).

    Why? The egg is filled with gradients of developmental molecules, all primed and ready to go. There are at least six different gradients, from different “poles” of the unfertilized egg. It’s preprogrammed.

    Anyway, imagine sticking a tiny glass pipette into such an egg, and sucking out the female pronucleus. Then imagine sticking another glass pipette into that same egg, and injecting a donor nucleus. It is no wonder to me that the success rate is low; it has to serious mess up those developmental gradients.

    I guess if you want to do this sort of thing, fine. But I think that the product should be sterilized. If you make a lab mistake, you don’t want those mistakes passed down from generation to generation.

    Which is why we have the laws/guidelines about germ line versus somatic genetic engineering of humans.

    Sorry for the long lecture. But I teach this kind of thing.

    Eric Blair (ad3775)

  6. Actually, Bradley, I don’t know of any work with ESC that show totipotency. You may have heard some stories from companies, but the published literature ain’t there yet.

    Again, those developmental gradients—bicoid versus nanos are the simplest ones—are deucedly complex.

    Eric Blair (ad3775)

  7. As for who gets cloned, JD, there is only one possibility.

    Perez Hilton.

    Eric Blair (ad3775)

  8. Actually Not, Not, Eric.
    Mitochondrial DNA resides in the Mitochondria, which are outside of the nucleus.
    Therefore, you are creating chimeric humans with DNA from the clonee and the egg donor.

    The problems with cloning include:

    Sex selection

    Generational genetic control

    Possibility for eugenics

    Problems with reduced viability, i.e. how many defective clones will be produced, and how will they be dealt with? At what stage?

    Probability for genetic damage due to Telomere aging where the “clock” is not reset like in natural fertilization.

    Responsibility for doctor performing cloning for probable increase in genetic disorders. Will we be able to bill him or her for the cost of healthcare for the life of the cloned human?

    Proof that no harm will come to the cloned human before proceeding with risky experimentation.

    j.pickens (8b5ad5)

  9. Re: mitochondrial DNA, Scott J. and Eric B. are both probably right, though the account isn’t entirely clear. It seems that Dr. Zavos takes the nucleus of a cell of the person to be cloned and places it in a donor egg whose own nucleus has been removed. So the mitochondrial DNA depends on the donor of the egg.

    Theology aside, Zavos is brewing tragedies for grieving families to sate his own appetites for fame, fortune, or something creepier. The cloning procedure is not safe.

    Dr Zavos dismissed these fears saying that many of the problems related to animal cloning – such as congenital defects and oversized offspring – have been minimised.

    “Minimized,” he says, a euphemism that all professional societies and regulatory authorities dispute. Look at his cavalier dismissal of some of the lifelong debilities that many or most cloned people are likely to face, and ask yourself: Who are you gonna believe? He’d do about as much good if he went around convincing pregnant women to go on repeated drinking binges. This guy isn’t auditioning for the part of Marcus Welby, but Victor Frankenstein.

    AMac (8bc350)

  10. Um. j.pickens, are we disagreeing? Mitochondria, which evolved originally from alphaproteobacteria, do indeed have their own genomes and prokaryotic central dogma machinery. And there are genes for mitochondrial maintenance in the nucleus, as well.

    It turns out that mutations carried by mitochondrial DNA can result in a number of unusual genetic diseases. Look at Doug Wallace’s lab at UC Irvine.

    As for sex selection, it is taking place, right now, in China and India, without any fancy equipment. They just terminate female fetuses.

    Telomeres are a sticky subject. For some animals, the clone has reduced telomere repeat numbers (and perhaps a reduced lifespan). That was claimed for Dolly the Famous Sheep, but I have never seen the data. For other model systems, the telomeres appear to “reset” themselves (the mouse cloning model is like that). Scientists like me promised a lot about telomerases and understanding telomeres. We have a long way to go to deliver.

    The whole subject of epigenetics is still under investigation. There is a LOT we do not know.

    There is a lot of good information out there about bioethics. The introductory textbook that I use, by Campbell et al, is a great place to start.

    Your concerns are valid. Personally, I think that germline modifications should be illegal.

    Eric Blair (ad3775)

  11. Eh, the thread built quickly, Comment #9 was referring to Comments #2 and #3. Eric Blair had already explained things while I was still composing. Sorry for the confusion.

    AMac (8bc350)

  12. Eric, your point about totipotency not being demonstrated is correct AFAIK. But it’s not that big a stretch to imagine the current work being extended in that direction. I’d guess that it is . . .

    . . .Wait, my research assistant Dr. Google found the issue of IPS totipotency is an open question.

    Of course, that was nearly a year ago, an eon in stem cell research.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  13. How about this concept?
    An unscrupulous doctor innoculates the cloned egg with prions for Mad Cow Disease.

    15 to 30 years later, after puberty, most likely, the clones suffer brain wasting, dementia, motor deficit, and early death.

    The doctor will either be very old or dead before this doomed cohort of clones suffers a horrible fate.

    Unlikely, yes,
    But in reality, the doctors proposing to perform this task have no way to know they are not creating genetically damaged goods, and will likely be dead before the full consequences of their actions are fulfilled.

    j.pickens (8b5ad5)

  14. j.pickens,
    Your example shows why it’s necessary to test any such cloning in animals, including primates, before allowing it in humans.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  15. Full testing of the cloning concept would require multigenerational studies of chimpanzees and gorillas. Since we cannot speed up their life processes, I would imagine 100 to 300 years would be needed to complete such a study.

    But wait, these doctors want to clone humans in as little as two years, according to the story.


    j.pickens (8b5ad5)

  16. Bradley, Lee Silver is pretty sharp. I have used his older book in classes long past. Nice interviews and such here:

    The totipotent cell would need to set up multiple gradients of morphogens.

    Blech. Wikipedia.

    This is best studied in our tiny friend Drosophila, true, but we have relatives of those genes, and the morphogens they encode.

    Possible? As you say, never say never.

    j.pickens, absolutely. I don’t know about putting prions into people intentionally, but what about long term genetic defects? Huntington’s Disease can take many decades to show itself…and can change from generation to generation (triplet repeat expansion disorders can do that).

    Again, this is why somatic engineering is inherently safer. If I want to “fix” a blood disorder, and I modify bone marrow cells genetically, that doesn’t translate into being passed along to the next generation.

    Eric Blair (ad3775)

  17. For many people, the objection to human cloning has to do with the “horrifically low success rate” that Eric Blair mentioned. If you believe, as most pro-lifers do, that life begins at conception, then that single fertilized egg is a human being in every sense that matters: biologically and ethically. And that means that every time the process fails, you’ve killed another human being.

    I’ve also heard an argument that goes even farther and states that even if the cloning process is successful, removing the original nucleus from the recipient cell is equivalent to killing it, which means that successful or not, the cloning procedure kills a human being 100% of the time. I’m not sure how I feel about this argument — if the procedure is successful, then you do end up with a viable embryo and eventually a fully-grown adult, so if the original egg was “killed”, then where did this adult come from? Still, from a philosophical perspective I can see their point — it’s equivalent to the science-fiction concept of permanently wiping someone’s memory and “reprogramming” them with new, implanted memories. Would that be like “killing” the original personality, or not? If so, then removing the original nucleus and reprogramming its DNA could be seen equivalently — the particular combination of DNA in that original fertilized egg existed nowhere else in the world, and now thanks to the cloning procedure it no longer exists. I don’t think I subscribe to this argument myself, but I can see how a decent case could be made for it.

    For what it’s worth, I fully subscribe to the first of these arguments — since I believe that life begins at conception, I think those fertilized eggs are human beings and should be treated as such. And I believe that any procedure with a 99% failure rate ought not to be tried on human beings until the failure rate can be brought much, MUCH lower via animal experimentation. If cloning can ever be done reliably, with little to no chance of death of the recipient egg, then I could revise my opinion.

    Robin Munn (d48bd0)

  18. j. pickens,

    If that were the standard for new medical techniques, doctors would still be bleeding patients, not vaccinating them. If you wish to restrict the concept to genetic modification technology,the same problem arises. Anti-GMO folks advocate such endless testing as another way of trying to ban the technology under the guise of being safe.

    I agree with you that 2 years is far too short a time. 20 years, or one generation, is more appropriate.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  19. Eric,
    My poorly worded example with the innoculated cells was attempting to show how absurd the notion that the doctors proposing to perform these cloning procedures know fully what will happen.

    Nobody would accept a doctor who intentionally made a conscious act to create a defective human.
    The doctor would be vilified, when found out.

    What I am saying is that these doctors don’t know the outcome of what they propose, so they should be equally vilified PRIOR to being able to bring human clones to term.

    j.pickens (8b5ad5)

  20. And j.pickens, I completely agree. If I have offended you, it was not my intention. We agree in most ways on this subject.

    There are so many levels to object to this kind of thing (germline modifications of humans), ranging from the technical to the personal.

    Over the years, doctors and at least one far-out religious group (the Raelians) have claimed to have carried out human cloning. That was for publicity. Hopefully, this is the same thing.

    Eric Blair (ad3775)

  21. Good points, Robin Munn.

    If IPS cells turn out to be totipotent, or can be made totipotent, that will open up even more conundrums.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  22. Nope. It’s not a religious thing. I’m a Christian, and I have no problem with human cloning.

    I would have a problem with human cloning for the purpose of harvesting organs. (because I would see “the clone” as being human and alive, and therefore worthy of rights.)

    I would also have a problem with cloning a bunch of embryos, and then performing abortions on “extra” embryos that might manage to implant themselves along the uterine wall. I have a problem with this for much of the same reason, because the embryos are human, and alive and they bloody well should have rights. (though in reality…)

    None of this has anything to do with religion. Unless you count my belief that killing another human being is wrong as a “religious” belief. And if that is the case, than you might as well say that all moral choices are actually religious choices… although I am straying dangerously close to another topic here.

    Jewels (dec12d)

  23. Bradley,
    I respectfully disagree with your analogy.
    Treatments for humans suffering from disorders should be tested for probable safety and effectiveness, as is currently the case.
    GMO plant crops should be reasonably tested as well.

    However, the responsibility for ab initio creating a human in a hitherto unique way, does not fall in the same category as your two examples.

    The human with disease being treated can make his own decision as to whether to accept treatment.

    A newly created human has no such choice, and to potentially subject humans to such experimentation is abhorrent to me.

    There is no pressing need to perform human cloning.

    j.pickens (8b5ad5)

  24. Would the clone have any other purpose to his existence other than being a guinea pig?

    Roy Mustang (9deca0)

  25. Eric,
    No offense taken.
    I usually speak bluntly, especially on a subject to which I have such strong opinion.

    For the record, I am not religious, I would call myself secular humanist with a Judaeo Christian upbringing. While I don’t thing the hand of GOD literally etched Moses’ stones, they weren’t such a bad idea, either, wherever they came from.

    j.pickens (8b5ad5)

  26. You all know about the “pet cloning” business, right? How about paying 35,000 bucks for a clone of your cat? I think it is 50K for a clone of your dog (cats are easier to clone than dogs!).

    There are other companies, though apparently there are some frauds out there, too.

    Anyway, I think that is fine. We can find out a lot, and rich people who want to pay all that money can subsidize it.

    But it does give me pause to compare the cost of a shelter dog or cat to these cloned pets. Which are as likely to be like the “original” as human twins are identical in personality.

    Still, we can learn a lot from this. Humans, I am much more cautious about…

    Eric Blair (ad3775)

  27. The Raelians are a great example of the MSM’s failures in covering science. The reporters simply didn’t know enough about the subject to properly assess the claim. They gave the Raelians attention they didn’t deserve, all based on what should have been obvious fabrications.

    One didn’t have to be an expert to sense it was almost certainly a hoax. But it’s necessary to have at least a passing knowledge of the state of the art in the field. This could be done just by consulting EurekAlert or a local university.

    The owners, publishers and editors of news organizations deserve most of the blame, for not allowing reporters time to study these issues. And the reporters should be taking time on their own to study science if they’ll be reporting on it.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  28. j. pickens,
    I respectfully accept your reasoning as making valid points.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  29. Religious people tend towards being traditionalists. Old fashioned procreation will generally be given the nod over Dr. Frankenstein’s labors at the state run clinic even if there is no commandment “Thou shalt not clone”
    That said, I can’t see how the Christian God would change at all because of cloning, but
    Id be shocked if cloning doesn’t have a few real bad endings that result from people who get their God complex suit on a little too tight.
    Christians do fear man’s free will run amok and fear God “turning His back” and letting that run bring down a nation or a society. The Bible repeats that theme early along with the antidote of humility.

    I also personally like natural selection and the uniqueness it brings to the human race rather than cookie cutter McDonalds approach… maybe one Bill Gates is enough.

    Anyway, I’ll be dead before the zombie hunts kick off so who cares? Let the kids figure it out.

    (another) Random thought: Lets say I get cloned, it somehow goes bad and the other me is being hunted down by a pitchfork wielding mob…. do I care? Or is it tough luck… I suppose as long as it doesn’t effect my credit score or put my DNA into the national database, they can hack away and do whatever

    SteveG (02d951)

  30. I don’t think it’s a religious thing. People who worry about clones having souls are just stupid; wherever souls come from, there’s no reason a baby born through cloning should be less likely to get one than any other baby. And those who express concern about “playing God” are clearly not believers; religious people believe that if God doesn’t want us cloning people then it will prove impossible. If it succeeds that will prove God’s OK with it.

    Milhouse (d58e7d)

  31. SteveG, what if your identical twin robs a bank?

    Milhouse (d58e7d)

  32. The technical difficulties seem to be just a matter of science and I am confident that with time the problems and questions will be worked out. Proper attention to ethical safety measures should be given in the mean time to be sure research does not rush ahead of proper protections.

    My problems with cloning are ethical. These are human beings that we are creating. Who do they belong to? Who are legally the parents? Who makes decisions for them until they reach maturity? Are we making them wards of the state? The Hitler Youth are nothing by comparison. When scientists can create humans without a surrogate mother, are they property? Will we have reintroduced slavery? If clones are grown for organs is this not the vilest form of human ownership and cannibalism?

    Until these questions are answered in a civilized matter I am dead set against allowing cloning, and I am afraid that given out attitude about killing babies before or during birth I am not optimistic at all. Just for clarity, I am not religious. These issues strike at the very core of civilization to me and are much more important than the short term ethical considerations dealing with the immaturity of the technology.

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  33. Why would you want to arrest evolution?

    Cloning awards success based on past glory and locks you into the past, reduces diversity and the reward normally given to new combination.

    Its effectively a genetic bailout.

    Anyway, aside from the freakshow potential, what good is it really except as a tool for future genetic modification and mass production?

    jpm100 (e99ef5)

  34. “What’s the problem? They’re no more genetically related than identical twins”
    Havesting cloned fetuses for embryonic stem cells to treat the originator without the problems caused by rejection,
    Allowing the festus to develop further and then harvesting organs to be treated to enduce accelerated growth for transplant operations,

    Dan Kauffman (ce5245)

  35. Comment by Eric Blair — 4/21/2009 @ 10:40 pm

    That alone is enough reason to kill anyone involved in this sort of research, and destroy all documents about it as well.

    Scott Jacobs (90ff96)

  36. they have different mitochondrial DNA

    Uh, I don’t think that is right. Does he mean maternal DNA?

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  37. Mitochondrial DNA. Without looking it up, I believe they found, in Dolly, that her mitochondrial DNA, which determines senescence, was greatly shortened i.e. it was an old sheep’s, not a newborn’s. So the short lifespan of clones, which the movie Bladerunner revolved around, might be built in. (And I believe that mitochondrial DNA does come from the mother.)

    nk (3e53ec)

  38. Your example shows why it’s necessary to test any such cloning in animals, including primates, before allowing it in humans.

    It’s difficult not to discuss *that* other subject re cloning as much as the technicalities with the scientific end of the process. If one feels there is no moral or ethical issue re cloning than yes, it’s absolutely necessary to test in primates, not just before allowing it in humans but until it is perfected before allowing it in humans.

    My issue with cloning is that I don’t believe in the good motives of man in this. Ego and power come to mind. Just because it can be done does not mean it is the wise and good thing. The advances in science are marvelous and have saved untold lives, no doubt, but that is one side of the issue, the advances in science have also put man (generic) in the further position of having power over life and death in heinous ways: Partial birth abortion. And we are all aware of those in history who attempted to manipulate genetics for their own nefarious purposes. Those that are pro-cloning of humans, why do you believe that there won’t similar abuses? What has changed in the heart of man that such power will remain checked and with good intent? There is an ugly edge of ego and pride that is not to be taken lightly. *We do it because we can*? (Think Nadia Suleyman’s doctor) We’re not talking banking fraud or some other high crime – rather the possibility of creating and destroying for one’s own personal interest. What would be the necessity of cloning humans – other than it *can* be done?

    And Patterico, I am a mirror image identical twin. We are not very different at all – in fact, we are mirrored not only physically but in temperament, personality, tastes, and philosophies. My own dad and brother still mixes us up and always have. So certainly genetics plays a part, as well as environment, etc. It somewhat creeps me out to think of people willfully making an identical image of another person (if not alike in personality). My point is, I’ve known other twins that are as identical in everything as I am with my own twin…

    Dana (d08a3a)

  39. Dana,
    Having many of you in this world would be a great blessing! 🙂

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  40. I had no idea that Dana had an identical twin – cool, I always learn something new here. As for the scientific discussion taking place, I only can add that Huxley and Toffler were both remarkably prescient in their work, as well as (of course) Philip K. Dick.

    Dmac (1ddf7e)

  41. Why do we feel the need to wade into something for which the ethical questions have no good answers? And if ethical considerations do not have a place in this, why are there ethical review boards? I note the questions around things like paternity for, uh, “non-traditional” pregnancies. Ironically, my daughter asked me last night if human clones would have souls. I told her that I honestly could not answer that, and if an answer to a question such as that could not be ascertained, then we would be very best served by not doing something which required an answer.

    Chris (d098d0)

  42. Comment by Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. — 4/22/2009 @ 6:35 am

    I agree. One of them would be BOUND to find the kitchen at some point…

    I’m gonna start running away now.

    Scott Jacobs (90ff96)

  43. It’s funny that people are talking about the negatives of cloning including “creating” people for the sake of harvesting tissue or organs. This already occurs! Many, many parents that have kiddos with childhood disease get pregnant in order to save their child. The hope is that the sibling will have cord blood or bone marrow that matches that can save the child.

    And, as a Christian and an identical twin myself, I see nothing wrong with cloning…IF it can be done in such a way that the individual “created” has no negative side effects for the cloning. If that cannot be guaranteed, we need to stop. Pure and simple. As Dana said, just because we CAN do something doesn’t mean we SHOULD.

    yourlilsis (9d1ada)

  44. Milhouse, by your reasoning, God is ok with nukes, and mustard gas, and sarin, and whatever we manage to cook up, because if He wasn’t, then we couldn’t do it. Sounds like a whitewash attempt to wash your hands of moral reasoning.

    Chris (d098d0)

  45. Milhouse, by your reasoning, God is ok with nukes, mustard gas, sarin, and anything else we cook up. I mean, hey, if He ain’t cool with it, we couldn’t do it, right? Sounds like you are just whitewashing the need to make moral judgements.

    Chris (d098d0)

  46. My personal problem with cloning is that I fear it will wreak havok with reincarnation. It’s bad enough that some barbarian is about to desecrate my tomb.

    nk (3e53ec)

  47. This has been a fun thread for me. A couple of things:

    1. Maternal DNA is getting to be a blurry subject now, with the advent of epigenetics. I think it will be the “coming thing” in genetics (pardon the Wikipedia):

    The discussion here was about mitochondrial DNA, DNA carried by mitochondria, which are outside the cell nucleus.

    When I was in graduate school in the Bay Area, one of my professors was Doug Wallace. Quirky guy, but very, very bright. And this is his topic. So here is an article on his work from the OC Register:

    And a little video by the man.

    It used to be thought that what the mitochondria did had little effect on the organism (other than providing energy). Not so, as Dr. Wallace and many others have shown. Brave new world, indeed!

    2. Telomeres and aging. It is true that, with each cell division, the telomeres (repetitive structures at the ends of chromosomes) shorten. Eventually, the cells die. Many scientists think that this is involved in aging, for obvious reasons. Fact is, two cell types “regenerate” their telomeres: cells that make eggs or sperm, and cancer cells.

    Not all cloning techniques lead to shortened telomeres. In mice, as I mentioned above, the telomeres are regenerated. Sheep, not so much. Who knows with humans?

    3. Identical twins. Fascinating subject! I have always wondered if mirror image monozygotic twins have the same fingerprints?

    I completely agree with the concept that just because we can do something, we ought to do it. I hope not.

    Eric Blair (ad3775)

  48. My concern would be who gets to pick who gets cloned …

    Glenn Greenwald? No, nevermind, he already has cloned himself.

    Steverino (69d941)

  49. Scott Jacobs! Denounce yourself, you sexist!

    Just briefly consider the modern cloning movies, which are of course life imitating art…or art imitating life: The Sixth Day, Resident Evil: Extinction, Multiplicity. Mostly the clones want to takeover the lives of the folks they were cloned from. It never ends well!

    Also, does it really settle well with the pro-cloners to consider the possibility that people who can afford it will be cloning themselves and harvesting their own organs, thus dramatically extending the natural life cycle? Seriously, do you want an eternal George Soros?

    Dana (be9504)

  50. This has been a fun thread for me

    On top of your itemized reasons for the enjoyable thread, one can readily note the civil tone used between those who had disagreements and the conspicuous absence of conspicuous cage rattlers. Well done, people. To more of the same.

    allan (e91882)

  51. Steverino,

    Or, rather, BEcloned himself.

    fat tony (a7fa4a)

  52. Fat Tony –

    Think you’re missing a W there.

    … Come to think of it, I’m starting to miss W as well. 🙂

    Robin Munn (d48bd0)

  53. I think I know why the trolls haven’t found a place on this thread. The scientific lab is too sterile and scientific to easily follow and stuff. It’s even a bit difficult for me to follow all the mighty cauliflower and promethius and yolkless eggs.

    As a Christian, I am opposed to cloning any animals so I am definitely opposed to cloning humans (which are not animals). Creating a living, breathing thing is taking the role of the Almighty and no mere human should do that. Now, I know that argument will not hold water in any “religion-free” debate, but that’s where I would start in my own mind.

    My own picture of cloning is that of using a xerox machine to make more copies of something. If you xerox a xerox of a xerox that was xeroxed from a xerox of a xerox, you will eventually get a blank sheet of paper out of the machine.

    John Hitchcock (fb941d)

  54. I think for clarity, we should assume mature cloning technology, which will eventually be developed. Disregard concerns about telomere defects or other issues in current technology, and assume we’ll some day have to deal with a technique that can make a perfect identical genetic twin, however many years younger than the cloned person.

    What are the ethical drawbacks?
    1) A clone might be regarded as property, deprived of human rights, and created a slave class or source of organs and other body parts. (Cf. the movie, The Island.) (Cf. also, cases of babies being conceived as possible bone marrow donors for sick older siblings.)

    2) A clone may be more likely than “normal” babies to be created on account of vanity or other selfish motives — a desire to have a copy of Brad Pitt or Paris Hilton, for example, or a “replacement” copy of a dead relative, or even a genetic copy of the owner of a business to take over when the original retires. If you believe it’s unethical to overlay such considerations on the process of creating a new life, it may not be a good idea to create new avenues to do so.

    Karl Lembke (ff486c)

  55. I did a bit of bacterial recombination work when I was stupid enough to think I could handle a double dr. degree.I’m amazed at how far things have moved in a generation.But remember,cloning was a big problem on Krypton.

    corwin (ce08ad)

  56. What work did you do, corwin? You are speaking my lingo!

    Eric Blair (c8876d)

  57. The main objection to human cloning that I’m aware of is that it’s human experimentation– it also treats a human as thing to be made.

    I believe the Vatican already mentioned that, once a clone is made– even if it’s one of those part-animal ones GB was talking about making legal– it’s got the same moral standing as any other human. (think like the moral stance on bastards, or children of rape)

    Cloning is wrong because it treats people as means to an end, instead of people.

    Foxfier (db0f51)

  58. Y’know, for all the postulating and science, which no doubt is fascinating to some, it still would take 30+ weeks of gestating to being a cloned embryo to birth. I cannot help but favor the traditional means of bringing the two sets of genetic material together. So unless you’re building the human equivalent of a prize bull or, worse, yet also more difficult, a pool of “superior” humans from which to start a new population, what’s the point? That we can? I can drive on the sidewalk. That doesn’t make it a good idea.

    Chris (d098d0)

  59. Posted this at Hot Air, but since you asked as well:

    From the article AP linked:

    Studies on animal cloning have shown time and time again that it is unsafe. The cloned animals suffer a higher-than-normal risk of severe developmental problems and the pregnancies often end in miscarriage. Mainstream scientists believe cloning is too dangerous to be used on humans.

    Also from the article:

    [S]cores of couples have now approached Dr Zavos hoping that he will help them to overcome their infertility by using the same cloning technique that was used to create Dolly the sheep in 1996.

    From New Scientist Feb. 2003:

    Dolly’s birth six-and-a-half years’ ago caused a sensation around the world. But as many sheep live to twice this age, her death will refuel the intense debate over the health and life expectancy of cloned animals.

    The type of lung disease Dolly developed is most common in older sheep. And in January 2002, it was revealed that Dolly had developed arthritis prematurely. She was cloned using a cell taken from a healthy six-year-old sheep, and was born on 5 July 1996 at the Roslin Institute, Edinburgh, Scotland…

    The only study of cloned mammals that have lived long enough to determine any effect on lifespan revealed that the mice involved died prematurely.

    The problem: Intentionally creating people with greatly increased likelihood of disabilities and shortened life-spans is a monstrous thing to do.

    John (3e13e7)

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