Not surprisingly, the possibility of human cloning has raised some troublesome issues. Who would control human cloning technology, and who would be cloned? Many people fear that the answer to both questions is, most likely, the rich and powerful. Other concerns are for the clones themselves: how would it feel to know that you were born, not a unique individual, but a copy of someone else? And what if a clone of, say, Einstein, was more interested in MTV than in theoretical physics?  

In response to the uproar, President Clinton has banned the use of federal funds for human cloning research, saying that "any discovery that touches upon human creation is not simply a matter of scientific inquiry." The ban was mainly a gesture, since no federal funds are currently being put towards experiments involving human cloning. But Clinton has also asked a federal bioethics panel to study the issue and report back in 90 days on whether the United States should regulate or ban human cloning altogether. Britain, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Spain already have laws banning human genetic experiments.

But geneticists are hoping that the baby doesn't get thrown out with the bath water. They argue that, while cloning humans would be "morally repugnant," animal cloning and other forms of genetic manipulation present promising possibilities, particularly in medical applications.

For example, consider Rosie the transgenic cow. (Sounds like a Disney flop, no?) Backed by the same company that brought us Dolly, scientists have created a cow--Rosie--whose milk contains a human milk protein that can be used to feed premature babies who cannot nurse. Though Rosie looks and acts like a cow, she is "transgenic" because human genes were mixed with hers when she was just an embryo.

The Cloning Question...


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