Ethics of cloning

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Roman Catholicism and many conservative Christian groups have opposed human cloning and the cloning of human embryos, believing that life begins at the moment of conception. Other Christian denominations such as the United Church of Christ do not believe a fertilized egg constitutes a living being, but still they oppose the cloning of embryonic cells. The World Council of Churches, representing nearly 400 Christian denominations worldwide, opposed cloning of both human embryos and whole humans in February 2006. The United Methodist Church opposed research and reproductive cloning in May 2000 and again in May 2004. Conversely, Judaism does not equate life with conception and, though some question the wisdom of cloning, Orthodox rabbis generally find no firm reason in Jewish law and ethics to object to cloning.[1] Liberal Jewish thinkers have cautioned against cloning, among other genetic engineering efforts, though some eye the potential medical advantages.

At present, the main non-religious objection to human cloning is that the cloned individual may be biologically damaged, due to the inherent unreliability of its origin; for example, researchers currently are unable to safely and reliably clone non-human primates.

Many believe that as cloning research and methods improve, concerns of safety and reliability will no longer be an issue. However, it must be pointed out that this has yet to occur. Rudolph Jaenisch, a professor at Harvard, has pointed out that we have become more efficient at producing clones which are still defective.[2] Other arguments against cloning come from various religious orders (believing cloning violates God's will or the natural order of life), and a general discomfort some have with the idea of "meddling" with the creation and basic function of life. This unease often manifests itself in contemporary novels, movies, and popular culture, as it did with numerous prior scientific discoveries and inventions. Various fictional scenarios portray clones being unhappy, soulless, or unable to integrate into society. Furthermore, clones are often depicted not as unique individuals but as "spare parts," providing organs for the clone's original (or any non-clone that requires replacement organs).

Needless to say, cloning is a poignant and important topic, reflected by its frequent discussion and debate among politicians, scientists, the media, religions, and the general public.

On December 28, 2006, the FDA approved eating meat from cloned animals[1]. It was said to be virtually indistinguishable from the non-cloned animals. Furthermore, companies would not be required to provide labels informing the consumer that the meat comes from a cloned animal.

  1. Michael Brody "Cloning People and Jewish Law" . Avraham Steinberg. "Human Cloning: Scientific, Ethical and Jewish Perspectives" in Assia v.3, n.2 1998.
  2. Development Dynamics. 2006 Volume 235, pages 2460-2469.