Did China Cross A Massive Ethical Line in Their Latest Cloning Stunt?

As with all matters involving life, death, consciousness, and conscience, there are a number of terribly serious concerns over the ethical egregiousness of cloning.

The idea that life is replicable is absurd, given the infinite number of external stimuli that we encounter from the very moment that we are born.  We simply are unable to say with any degree of certainty what anyone is going to grow up to believe or how they are going to behave, let alone predict what sort of political and social lines they will draw in the sand around themselves.

Yet, under the crushing weight of these environmental factors, something beautiful happens:  Individuality becomes the singular reality, with our species adapting creatively to get the most out of whatever this 80 years on planet earth is supposed to mean.  Without this individuality, there would be no reason to stand up and say “I can change the world”.  If we were uniform, it would have all been done before.

This is just one of the strongest arguments against abortion, namely, that statistics of income and location do not make the man.  These environmental factors are certainly a concern for safety and progress, but not every individual born on one particular city block will wind up as similar human beings in their adulthood.  By not allowing for that experience to permeate their being, we’re denying our world that spirit – an individual entity that could be the lynchpin to something spectacular in our modern environment.

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So, where then does cloning come in?

There has been no shortage of fascination with the subject of scientifically cloning plants and animals, but with that wonder comes the heavy emotional an ethical toll of the process.  Is it really fair to recreate something that was destined for singularity?  Cows, pigs, and sheep have no real connection to the waking world – their sentience is questionable at best – but as we near the day in which a human is cloned, we must ask ourselves where our line in the sand is?  What animal is too similar to a human to be cloned without a global consensus on the morality of the situation?

Certainly, that line would have been drawn somewhere in the primate arena here in the United States.  In China, however, there seem to be no qualms about the idea.

“There have been mice and cows and pigs and camels, bunnies and bantengs and ferrets and dogs, but ever since Dolly the sheep became the first cloned mammal in 1996, the list has had a conspicuous hole: primates. Now that hole has been filled.

“Scientists in China reported on Wednesday in Cell that they had cloned two healthy long-tailed macaque monkeys from the cells of another macaque, using the Dolly technique. The two clones, born 51 and 49 days ago, were created from a fetus’s cells; so far, the scientists have not been able to make the tricky procedure work when they used cells from adult macaques. That would seem to postpone the dystopian day when cloning children and grown-ups becomes as mainstream as IVF. But because ‘the technical barrier [to cloning primates] is now broken,’ co-author Mu-ming Poo of the Institute of Neuroscience in Shanghai told reporters, the technique ‘could be applied to humans’ — something he said his team has no intention of doing and sees no reason for.

“Cloning pioneers said the monkey clones represented, as Dr. Robert Lanza put it, ‘an impressive breakthrough, which overcomes the last major hurdle in the field.’ Lanza co-led teams that cloned a gaur in 2000 and in 2014 used the Dolly technique to produce human embryos (but not pregnancies) from the cells of an adult.”

The question of singular conscious will likely need some exploring before anyone dare make the jump from macaques to homo sapiens, but now that the obstacles are dismantled we fear it is only a matter of time.


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