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View Reproductive cloning

Reproductive cloning uses “somatic cell nuclear transfer” (SCNT) to create animals that are genetically identical. This process entails the transfer of a nucleus from a donor adult cell (somatic cell) to an egg which has no nucleus. If the egg begins to divide normally it is transferred into the uterus of the surrogate mother.

Such clones are not strictly identical since the somatic cells may contain mutations in their nuclear DNA. Additionally, the mitochondria in the cytoplasm also contains DNA and during SCNT this DNA is wholly from the donor egg, thus the mitochondrial genome is not the same as that of the nucleus donor cell from which it was produced. This may have important implications for cross-species nuclear transfer in which nuclear-mitochondrial incompatibilities may lead to death.

Human cloning
Human cloning is the creation of a genetically identical copy of an existing or previously existing human. There are two commonly discussed types of human cloning: therapeutic cloning and reproductive cloning. Therapeutic cloning involves cloning cells from an adult for use in medicine and is an active area of research: while reproductive cloning would involve making cloned human beings. Such reproductive cloning has not been performed and is illegal in many countries. A third type of cloning called replacement cloning is a theoretical possibility, and would be a combination of therapeutic and reproductive cloning. Replacement cloning would entail the replacement of an extensively damaged, failed, or failing body through cloning.

The various forms of human cloning are controversial. There have been numerous demands for all progress in the human cloning field to be halted. Some people and groups oppose therapeutic cloning, but most scientific, governmental, and religious organizations oppose reproductive cloning. Ethical concerns have been raised by the idea that it might be possible in the future to harvest organs from clones. Some people have considered the idea of growing organs separately from a human organism - in doing this, a new organ supply could be established without the moral implications of harvesting them from humans. Research is also being done on the idea of growing organs that are biologically acceptable to the human body inside of other organisms, such as pigs or cows, then transplanting them to humans, a form of xenotransplantation.

Ethical issues of cloning
Some believe that it would be unethical to use a human clone to save the life of another. However, others have countered that people who exist today and have interpersonal relationships and personal histories should take precedence over never-conscious life at any stage of developmental maturity. The Catholic Church and many religious organizations oppose all forms of cloning, on the grounds that life begins at conception.

IEET Links:
Reproductive cloning and slippery slope arguments
Mameli defends reproductive technologies

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