The aim of research into human cloning has never been to
clone people, or to make babies for spare parts.
The research aims to obtain stem cells to cure disease.
However, results of research into animal
and human cloning for stem cells have been published
and, like all scientific findings, these are available
It was inevitable that one day this knowledge
would be abused. Now a handful of people across the
world have announced that they have already cloned a
baby. However, the world is still waiting for proof
that a cloned baby exists.
These individuals don't work for any University, hospital
or other government-regulated institution. On the whole, the
scientific community throughout the world has consistently
opposed any suggestions of cloning a baby.
'The majority of published research
shows that death or mutilation of the clone are the
most likely outcomes of mammalian cloning' said John
Kilner, president of the Centre for Bioethics and Human
Dignity in the United States.
No one is sure how far human cloning has actually gone. By
April 2003 Clonaid, a company created by the Raelian sect,
said they had already created five human baby clones. The
first, Eve, was allegedly born in America.
A United States court has ordered Clonaid to reveal the whereabouts
of the American mother and cloned baby, but neither have come
forward. Of the five allegedly cloned babies, none have been
DNA tested to see if they really are clones of existing people.
Others around the world - for example the Italian scientist
Dr. Severino Antinori - are actively trying to clone a human
child. Most scientists strongly disapprove of this work. He
has claimed there are mothers pregnant with cloned babies,
but again, no evidence has been forthcoming.
Doctors consider the risks of human cloning to be very great.
"To subject human beings to cloning is not taking an
unknown risk, it's knowingly harming people," Kilner
Most scientists agree with this. The vast majority of attempts
at cloning an animal have led to deformed embryos or miscarriages
once implanted. Most scientists argue that the few cloned
animals which are born suffer from deformities which are undetectable
by scans and tests in the womb, for example defects to the
lining of the lungs.
In 1996, Dolly the sheep was born. She was the first
animal cloned from the DNA derived from an adult sheep
rather than using DNA from an embryo.
Although Dolly seems healthy enough, there were questions
over whether she would age more quickly than a normal
sheep. She died in February 2003 having been diagnosed
with a progressive lung disease.
Dolly was the only sheep out of 277 attempts that made
it to a live birth. Who would accept those odds when
experimenting with human babies?
However, there are people who agree with cloning to have
a child. Some may be parents who have lost a baby and want
to replace it, others may be people who want children of their
own but can't have them in the traditional way. For example,
where a man cannot produce sperm he could get his own DNA
inserted into his partner's egg - creating a clone of himself.
|If cloning was your only possible
chance to have a child, would you use it? And who would
you want to know? Could you spot a cloned child?
'Oooh - doesn't he look like his