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Thursday, 15 March, 2001, 10:33 GMT
Should anyone be allowed to clone humans?
A controversial Italian fertility doctor has announced that he is ready to start cloning humans to make babies for infertile couples.
Dr Severino Antonioni says that, with technology similar to that used on animals, a human clone could be a reality within two years.
He claims 600 patients are queuing up to receive his treatment.
Critics say the move is irresponsible because cloning technology is still too much of a hit and miss affair. A large proportion of animal-clone pregnancies never reach full term. Of those animal clones that are born, 40% are deformed.
Should Dr Antonioni be allowed to go ahead? If people are willing to undergo such treatment voluntarily, should they be stopped? Why?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
I am not surprised that scientists should take the view that the process of cloning should be allowed to develop. Scientists have been able to improve the lives of many human beings. None of the improvements, advances, and breakthroughs would have been possible if the moralists and superstitious had won the various ethical and moral debates.
I that that cloning should be permitted for the likes of organ transplants or the treatment of disease.
As my daughter-in-law says, cloning is no big deal. She is a clone, and cannot see what all the fuss is about. She is a clone? Yes, she is an identical twin. She has the same genetic makeup as her sister, right down to their fingerprints.
For the doctors to stupidly think that cloning is not a two-edged sword is immature and irresponsible. They should know better than anyone what happens when human evolution reaches its pinnacle.
I just hope that mankind doesn't have to suffer the sins of these people.
How would Dr Jon Mabley, USA, feel if he were told that only artists could comment on art, soldiers on war and chefs on food? We may not be scientists but we have to live in the world that they create and we have every right to object to what these arrogant people are doing.
I don't think infertility treatment is really an issue is it? Cloning is much more expensive and less reliable even than IVF. Clearly this is simply a race to be 'first'.
A few people want millions of pounds
to clone children. Millions of people
want a few pounds to prevent their
Shawn Redemann, USA
In my opinion, it's only a question of responsibility. Of course, there's the threat of hi-tech slavery; there are psychological aspects of a child being a copy of a parent. But we got used to in-vitro, so I think we'll get over this one too. All it takes is the responsibility of scientists AND society.
Imagine how that child (cloned) would feel. Imagine knowing you were a complete replica of one of your parents, and that this was deliberate. It would be like not having an identity of your own. There is something very creepy about the thought that parents would want children who are identical to themselves. I have heard that only 1 in 40 will be born without deformity. If this is true, what would happen to the other 39?
Human cloning is the natural next step for biotechnology and it is not necessarily evil. I believe that if it is viable then we should do it. The science of cloning should not be held back by some outdated morals that some people have.
In the event of a breakdown in the parents' marriage, the non-genetic parent may well transfer its antipathy towards the partner onto the child.
What will happen to the custody battles? Will the non-genetic partner fight against having custody of a miniature version of the adult they cannot abide?
All children need emotional security. Not all get it but the odds are worse for a clone.
I am a research scientist and I am not religious yet I disagree with cloning entire human beings as things stand. The full effects of cloning an entire organism are as yet unknown, and we will have to study the lives of many cloned animals to know the full effects.
Dr Dominic Wilson, UK
It would be nice if those objecting to human cloning ever explained their objections, beyond superstition about "playing God" or primitive expressions of disgust. If prospective parents are so selfishly keen to see their own genes propagated rather than adopting a needy child then they should be allowed their (slim) chance.
Regardless of whether cloning ever becomes workable in practice or ethically acceptable to the public, such cynical attempts to manipulate and exploit the childless for profit should be banned. No doubt none of Dr Antonioni's profits will be put aside to help care for his victims, either child or hopeful parent.
I am a research scientist and find any attempt to stop the progression of science to be unacceptable. Cloning is here to stay, a human is going to be cloned, get used to it. Remember if we let people who do not understand or want to understand science decide our fate the world would still be flat, the sun would still be going around the earth and we would not be advanced as we are today.
If scientists wanted to clone me, then why not? The world would be a better place!
I think that cloning is a very bad practice as far as medicine is concerned. Instead let Dr Antonioni invent some kind of vaccine to cure Aids.
I can see nothing wrong with cloning. At present, all concerns expressed by people basically revolve around morality and ethics. They are nothing more than pure speculation. The real impact of cloning on society have yet to be known. So why should cloning be stopped? Besides, cloning can also bring enormous benefits to society. I look forward to the day when we are able to clone our hearts, lungs and kidneys.
For both religious and unreligious people, mankind has a certain limit that cannot be crossed. By crossing it, the world has to wait for the worst from now on. It seems that there is no distinction between what is right and what is wrong any more, and I think we are going to our end of our own free will!
What is happening now was predictable and is the reason why the topic is so controversial. Even though I understand the desire for a baby for childless couples, I tend to think of that doctor as a sorcerer's apprentice. There are so many children waiting to be adopted in the world. I know this is a common argument but shouldn't we try to convince childless couples that this may be a more ethical solution instead of letting them be the guinea pigs of somebody who wants to make his (crazy) dream come true?
The making of Dolly the sheep and Tetra was regarded as one of the greatest achievements in science. Indeed it is. But a human clone in question is a truly serious
matter to debate. For parents desperate to get children, Dr. Antonioni would be a godfather. But for a world already full of poverty and disgrace, his idea will bring every kind of troubles.
I find this subject a difficult one to consider. I look from the scientific & medical angle and I see a humanitarian responsibility. Medical research and better treatments are inevitable as we move into the future. However, that is where it should stay.
On the moral path I have a bad taste over this one. The reports indicate a much higher percentage of failure than success. Are those people ready to face that? It will turn everything on its head. If this does go ahead then I feel the medical profession is going over board. This can not be allowed to happen, but for pure medical treatment and advancement of that.
If people want to go ahead with this kind of treatment knowing the risks, then so be it.
I think cloning is wrong. I am not religious but I believe there is something sacred in being an individual which should never be lost.
I support DNA modification that would suppress or subdue the unwanted personality traits of humans if possible, such as criminal tendencies. This would benefit the human race in the long run.
Theoretically, it is not that bad because it would provide a solution to infertility, and, of course, the 'clones' would not actually be that similar to their 'parents' because of environmental differences. However, practically, this could cause major problems because of the danger of errors in cloning, which would be tantamount to manslaughter. More animal research is needed before this sort of action can be justified.
I don't think nature intended everyone to be able to reproduce for population reasons so I don't believe in fertility treatment anyway. But the idea of cloning is disgraceful and makes a mockery of what nature intended.
It is absolutely wrong, the issue is not even debatable.
09 Mar 01 | Sci/Tech
Doctor ready to clone babies
30 Jan 01 | Sci/Tech
Cloned human planned 'by 2003'
16 Aug 00 | Sci/Tech
Experts support human cloning
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