Human cloning

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Human cloning is the creation of a genetically identical copy of a human. It does not usually refer to monozygotic multiple births, human cell or tissue reproduction. The ethics of cloning is an extremely controversial issue. The term is generally used to refer to artificial human cloning; human clones in the form of identical twins are commonplace, with their cloning occurring during the natural process of reproduction.

There are two commonly discussed types of human cloning: therapeutic cloning and reproductive cloning. Therapeutic cloning involves cloning cells from an adult for use in medicine and is an active area of research, while reproductive cloning would involve making cloned humans. Such reproductive cloning has not been performed and is illegal in many countries.

A third type of cloning called replacement cloning is a theoretical possibility, and would be a combination of therapeutic and reproductive cloning. Replacement cloning would entail the replacement of an extensively damaged, failed, or failing body through cloning followed by whole or partial brain transplant.

Contents

History

Although the possibility of cloning humans has been the subject of speculation for much of the twentieth century, scientists and policy makers began to take the prospect seriously in the 1960s. Nobel Prize winning geneticist Joshua Lederberg advocated for cloning and genetic engineering in a seminal article in the American Naturalist in 1966 and again, the following year, in the Washington Post.[1] He sparked a debate with conservative bioethicist Leon Kass, who wrote at the time that "the programmed reproduction of man will, in fact, dehumanize him." Another Nobel Laureate, James D. Watson, publicized the potential and the perils of cloning in his Atlantic Monthly essay, "Moving Toward the Clonal Man", in 1971.[2]

The technology of cloning mammals, although far from reliable, has reached the point where many scientists are knowledgeable, the literature is readily available, and the implementation of the technology is not very expensive compared to many other scientific processes. For that reason Lewis D. Eigen has argued that human cloning attempts will be made in the next few years and may well have been already begun.[3] The ethical and moral issues cannot wait and should be discussed, debated and guidelines and laws be developed now.

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