The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The world reacts to cloning

The latter half of the 20th century has seen several significant developments in the field of reproductive science, including the development of an advanced understanding of DNA, the first in vitro birth, the cloning of a sheep, and recently, the mapping of the human genome.

With this most recent development in mind, many scientists believe that it’s only a matter of time before someone attempts to, and succeeds in cloning a human being.

As a matter of fact, it may already have been done.

The Scottish scientists who cloned Dolly the sheep waited for seven months after her birth to announce it publicly, in an effort to make sure that there were no birth defects, as there had been in their previous 277 efforts. Many scientists believe the waiting period before publicly announcing a successful human clone would be much longer, due to fear of a backlash directed towards scientists creating a deformed or unhealthy clone.

Among those who have spoken openly of attempting human cloning are Richard Seed, an Illinois physicist who has claimed that his clinic is capable of exploiting its ability to create a human clone, as well as the Raelians, the followers of a pseudo-religion that believes life on earth was created by extra-terrestrials in their own image.

The Raelians have announced that they will attempt to create a clone of a ten-month- old girl who died on the operating table, using funds supplied by the child’s anonymous parents.
Ian Helmut, the head of the group of scientists that created Dolly the sheep, has said of such efforts and their high chance of failure, “in trying to make a copy of a child who has died tragically, one of the most likely outcomes is another dead child.”

Lord Robert Winston, the professor who in 1978 was responsible for the birth of the first in vitro (test tube) baby, said of the Raelians that, “they are so extremely unlikely to succeed that I hardly feel the need to raise my voice to condemn them.”

While many groups such as the Roman Catholic Church, the National Bioethical Advisory Commission, and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, have voiced what they feel is a need to regulate attempts at human cloning, there are a number of groups interested in seeing complete freedom for efforts towards cloning. Among this group are the Libertarian Party, Randolphe Wicker and his Clone Rights United Front, and some members of the gay and lesbian community who see cloning as an opportunity to create another option for same-sex couples looking to have children.

A 1997 national poll showed that just under 70 percent of Americans polled were against human cloning. Guilford first-year Sam Stephens echoes this sentiment: “I saw [film] Multiplicity, and it didn’t seem like such a hot idea.”

Human cloning is currently illegal in much of Europe, and a moratorium has been created in the United States, which has cut all funding to such projects.

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