So a private group of scientists plan to clone a human being within 2 years.
I think media, film and television play a major part in our mis-apprehension of this new technology. In the same way we can only envisage extra-terrestrial beings as grey skinned, large eyed and bulbous headed little creatures, the layman’s mental picture of the cloning process tends to involve rooms full of incubators containing identical, fully grown human beings.
Obviously, the reality of the matter isn’t quite so ‘sci-fi’ as this. DNA is extracted from the cell of a donor, which is then placed inside a human egg. The egg is then implanted into a surrogate mother and a baby is produced which is genetically identical to the original donor. Simply put, the cloning process is more a matter of artificially producing an identical twin, the difference being that cloned twins do not share the same mother and can be years apart in age.
It seems that the scientists’ justification for their proposed human cloning experiments is that it will eventually benefit those who can’t bare children naturally. This process would put the DNA donor in a potentially strange situation – imagine walking along the street and seeing a clone of yourself as a child. This probably wouldn’t worry you if you were aware of the situation – that you willingly donated your DNA to create one child. But imagine if your DNA was passed on to others without your knowledge and you walk down the street and meet 20 clones of yourself. This is where the danger lies; not only can your personal information been taken from you [eg. addresses, medical information, bank account etc. via the Internet], but your entire genetic make-up could potentially be taken and sent round the world via the digital network – suddenly, you could become as ubiquitous as yahoo.com. So lets be sensible about it, and as zoologist Richard Dawkins writes:
“Cloning may be good and it may be bad. Probably it’s a bit of both. The question must not be greeted with reflex hysteria but decided quietly, soberly and on its merits. We need less emotion and more thought.”
The Ethics of Human Cloning
Human Cloning and Re-engineering
Human Cloning Foundation