Human cloning refers to the designing exact copy (clone) of the human which is genetically identical to the donor. This type of creation usually refers to the human cloning artificially such as human cells and tissue reproduction. It does not mean to create complete identical twins like natural conception and delivery. Until recently, human cloning is referred as theoretical human cloning as it has only been successful in theories as the prospect of persons’ cloning has lifted numerous controversies.
Types of Human Cloning
There are two major types of theoretical human cloning which are as follows:
- Therapeutic cloning
- Reproductive cloning
Therapeutic cloning refers to the creation of cells cloned from human used for medicinal purposes including transplants, surgeries etc. It is the most active area of cloning and research, however, it is being used nowhere in medical since April, 2020. Further, there are two ways to use therapeutic cloning:
a). Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT)
b). Pluripotent Stem Cell Induction (iPSC)
Reproductive Cloning on the other involves the production of exact copy (clone) of human despite of certain particular cell or tissues.
Cells formed as an end result of SCNT or iPSC are utilized in Stem Cell Therapy or to craft Organs for transplantation.
Brief Insight to the Past
Although the idea of cloning was in debates since 20th century, yet it was not fully considered unless the hybrid sheep named, Dolly, was created in July, 1996 by Ian Wilmut using Somatic cell Nuclear transfer (SCNT). It became the hot topic of research where some nations totally outlawed it while some of the scientists decided to make human clone in future. Their efforts came into reality when first human hybrid clone was created in November, 1998 with the help of Advance Cell Technology using SCNT but it could not survive more than 12 days and got destroyed.
Efforts for making the human therapeutic clone continued with the passage of time with lots of failures and little success until 2013, when a report from Shoukhrat Mitalipov claimed the production of Embryonic Stem Cells with the help of SCNT technology.
However, the first successful primates’ clones were done in the year 2018 using SCNT technology which created two live female clones of crabs-eating macaques which were named Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua.
Current Laws against Human Cloning
Currently, more than 70 countries have banned the Reproductive Human Cloning. In 2004, human cloning issue was raised overall the world and countries maintained serious laws against it.
The Canadian Parliament banned research on human cloning on March 24, 2004 while only permitting stem cells research from embryos.
The French Parliament, on the other hand, referred human cloning as “crime against the human species” on July 9, 2004.
The Human Fertilization and Embryology Act, 2008 by the British Government clearly banned the reproductive cloning of any sort.
In the US, there were no clear laws to ban the reproductive cloning completely till 2015.
Australia banned human cloning from December, 2006 while legalizing therapeutic research.
The European Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicines also banned the human cloning in one of their additional protocols.
Some Ground Realities for Banning Reproductive Cloning
- Bioethical Views
The bioethics includes wide range of ethical spots concerning the practice and potential uses of clones’ especially human clones. Most of the activists supported the use of therapeutic cloning for the production of stem cells which could be helpful in organ and tissue transplant.
Conversely, the conflict arises with the use of cloning for reproductive purposes. The American Association for Advancement of Science in 2014 showed concerns about this technology not being safe enough to use.
Some of the activists were actually concerned about the future of cloned human as their organs could easily be harvested, so they would probably, be prone to exploitation.
However the fact that cloned human could have families or any social life is yet another point to ponder and it is serious in either way.
Would clones have any social responsibilities and rights? Would they be able to take part in normal day to day lives’ activities?
Answer to all these questions is a big NO from the scientists and the activists from almost all walks of lives.
- Ethical Views
People belonging to any religion or race, showed a strong opposition to the human reproductive cloning as they think it as intervention to the God’s creation. Their strong believe that the creation of embryo has destroyed human. However, they do support the therapeutic cloning for human cure.
- Health concerns related to the Clones
The number of mammal cloned so far, suffered from various health issues right from the start. They faced early deaths which might be due to the loss of functioning lungs, weak heart, distorted limbs, obesity, weaker immune system, delicate organs and much more. The first cloned, Dolly has to be euthanized just after 6 years of her birth due to health concerns.
Uncertainty Related to Behavior of Cloned Human
Until now, scientists know that the clone human will be exact copy of donor human genetically but they are not sure what would be the personality of that clone. There are pretty much chances of that clone to adopt criminal activities as were pictured in few of fiction films too. It was all time good decision to ban reproductive cloning to avoid the risk such uncertainty of character.
- Genotype, Phenotype and the Individual
Genotype refers to the genetic makeup of any organism and it can be cloned while phenotype is the individual’s appearance, behavior, anatomy and his overall personality. So, with reproductive cloning, genes could be cloned but the phenotype of any person is impossible to copy. Because the personality, behavior and features other than physiological and anatomical that actually make up the whole person cannot be specifically defined by the genotype.