In 1997, scientists successfully cloned a sheep from an adult cell. This breakthrough in genetic technology sparked a heated debate regarding the moral, legal, and scientific viability of genetic cloning. Similarly, in 2017, scientists in China were able to clone two identical macaques. The concept of biological cloning means creating a full genetic copy of an individual or the tissue of a particular species. While cloning does exist in nature in the form of twins, the artificial process is a cause of emotive debate. Over the years, cloning technology has advanced to the point where humans cloning is a real possibility. Admittedly, human cloning presents certain scientific benefits that would positively impact the world. However, human cloning is challenged by significant moral and scientific barriers.
First, genetic cloning of humans stands out as a positive innovation that would positively benefit the world. The most prominent of these benefits include the capacity to alter the genetic make-up of individuals with genetic abnormalities. Forms of gene editing such as cloning are a way of eliminating defective genes and mutations thereby curing some genetic disorders (Savulescu, Pugh, Douglas, & Gyngell, 2015). Moreover, cloning technology has applications in therapeutic medicine where it can be used to aid procedures such as transplants as well as tissue damage repair. Based on research (Sachs, Mollica, & Bruno, 2017), cloning can radically enhance the success of these procedures. Most importantly, genetic cloning has significant relevance to reproductive health. For instance, infertile individuals can use technology to produce younger versions of themselves and eliminate the pain caused by infertility. Equally, there are outstanding scientific disadvantages of genetic cloning in humans.
Despite notable progress in genetic cloning technology, the process has had more failures than successes. According to Ayala (2015), genetic cloning attempts have higher rates of failure than success. For example, attaining a successful close would require damage to a large number of human embryos. Moreover, the risks associated with genetic cloning outweigh the benefits given that these failures come with the possibility of contaminating the human genome. Presently, animal studies show a high rate of failure. Given that there are still aspects of human cloning that are not understood by science, there is a likelihood of inadvertent outcomes that cannot be handled by science. For example, Ayala (2015) shows that cloning can result in unwanted genetic effects. Similarly, the fact that cloning uses the cells of an already-aged adult, it is possible that this age may be passed on to the clone creating the risk of complications such as early death. Moral complexities also form a major weak point for human cloning.
From a moral perspective, human cloning interferes with nature and the sanctity of life. Many opponents of human cloning argue that the artificial process of human cloning challenges the natural order of life. Typically, the process of procreation occurs mostly without the influence of human beings. Consequently, many human characteristics cannot be altered. However, with genetic cloning, it would be possible to pre-select the desired traits of an offspring. This issue becomes even more complicated when viewed from a religious viewpoint because it is considered to compromise the sanctity of human life (Allum et al., 2017). Subsequently, divisions would expand in society between clones and average human beings. In practice, these divisions would occur when parents discontented with normal children would clone new children with the hope of getting the perfect child.
As the technology of human cloning continues to advance, the divide between opponents and proponents is unlikely to narrow. Nonetheless, the reality that human cloning has both benefits and shortcomings cannot be disputed. Genetic cloning carries immense scientific benefits as well as dangers. Additionally, genetic cloning presents major moral issues that are not easy to resolve. Exploring the pros and cons of genetic cloning is one way of introducing some clarity and hopefully create some form of consensus
Allum, N., Allansdottir, A., Gaskell, G., Hampel, J., Jackson, J., Moldovan, A., & Stoneman, P. (2017). Religion and the public ethics of stem-cell research: Attitudes in Europe, Canada and the United States. PloS one, 12(4), e0176274.
Ayala, F. J. (2015). Cloning humans? Biological, ethical, and social considerations. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(29), 8879-8886.
Sachs, P. C., Mollica, P. A., & Bruno, R. D. (2017). Tissue-specific microenvironments: a key tool for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Journal of Biological Engineering, 11(1), 34.
Savulescu, J., Pugh, J., Douglas, T., & Gyngell, C. (2015). The moral imperative to continue gene editing research on human embryos. Protein & Cell, 6(7), 476-479.