United Nations Proposes Human Cloning Ban Again

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A new report under the auspices of the United Nations warns that human reproductive cloning is only a matter of time. The report recommends a global ban or, if that is not possible, the adoption of laws defending the human rights of clones.

According to Reuters the study argues:

"A legally-binding global ban on work to create a human clone, coupled with freedom for nations to permit strictly controlled therapeutic research, has the greatest political viability of options available."

An earlier U.N. attempt to ban cloning failed when negotiators did not agree to ban human cloning to produce stem cell therapies as well reproductive cloning. 

Since I still do not see what is ethically wrong with safe reproductive cloning, I see no reason for banning it. I am puzzled about why the U.N. report suggests that clones might be discriminated against or abused. Clones will be fully human, so, of course they deserve the same moral respect we give to any and all other human beings.

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  1. The randy buggers probably were influenced by this book.

  2. How much of a person has to be cloned to have human rights? What if is is just organs?

    How about everything above the waist including a brain?

    What about growing an entire body without a fully functioning brain for harvesting organs?

    I fully support the possibility of human cloning, but I do not think you can easily write off the possibility of not having human rights.

  3. At the risk of sounding flippant,
    The genie is out of the bottle. Full speed ahead!

  4. Why does the UN even care about this?

  5. I think that maybe the UN is afraid that we’ll take to cloning complete humans just so we can kill them for their organs.

    If a rich guy really needs a liver, will he pay to have a baby cloned from his genetic code so that he can “steal” its liver for himself?

    We oughta figure out how to clone individual organs grown in vats, rather than complete humans carried to term in women.

  6. “What about growing an entire body without a fully functioning brain…”

    We already have these. They are called women.

  7. How hard would it be for someone to pay to have a clone of oneself born to a surrogate, then at the moment of birth, have it lobotomized or whatever so that it lived in a vegetative state until it was ready for harvest at maturity 18 years later?

    Couldn’t you have your 18 year-old face transplanted and your withered one removed? What about all those weakening organs? If I was a billionaire, I’d pay to have all this done, probably in some hidden warehouse in Macau or whatever.

    Hmmm.

  8. I am puzzled about why the U.N. report suggests that clones might be discriminated against or abused

    Believe it or not, many people still think clones are created “ready-made”, as fully-formed adult copies. They’re ignorant of the science and therefore fearful of it.

  9. Bottle of mine, it’s you I’ve always wanted!

  10. Believe it or not, many people still think clones are created “ready-made”, as fully-formed adult copies. They’re ignorant of the science and therefore fearful of it.

    This is unfortunately very true. I blame Arnold and The 6th Day.

  11. Since I still do not see what is ethically wrong with safe reproductive cloning, I see no reason for banning it. I am puzzled about why the U.N. report suggests that clones might be discriminated against or abused. Clones will be fully human, so, of course they deserve the same moral respect we give to any and all other human beings.

    There’s nothing morally or ethically wrong about cloning humans provided we’re not required to destroy human life in the process. And this is only to the extent someone doesn’t volunteer. I’m not aware of the specifics of how this would be done, so perhaps this isn’t even an issue.

    But RB can’t seriously think people won’t discriminate against clones. You know, the same type of people who shrug at tyranny around the world but GodForbidTheMexicansCrosstheBorder. Mexicans are human beings too, but that doesn’t stop a good majority of people in the U.S. from supporting a border fence.

  12. Clones will be fully human, so, of course they deserve the same moral respect we give to any and all other human beings.

    In the religious view, would clones have a soul?

    If not, I imagine what would be a reason why many people would not give the same moral respect to a cloned human being.

  13. Do people discriminate against twins?

    And you wouldn’t really know the person was a twin of the original, because there’s too many years difference between them.

  14. Okay, I’ll bite:

    Clones will be fully human, so, of course they deserve the same moral respect we give to any and all other human beings.

    Which is exactly why the UN calls for more humane treatment of clones.

  15. Even assuming people wanted to discriminate against clones, how will they know who to discriminate against? Racial discrimination is easy: the guy looks different from me, so I hate him. Religious discrimination is also pretty easy, if you pay attention to clues like clothing or which house of worship someone does or does not attend. But what is it about clones that the UN thinks will make the average non-clone go “There’s one now! Get ’em!”

  16. Jennifer,

    Barcodes on the back of the neck.

    Downside to human cloning – The Boys From Brazil / Village Of The Damned freakiness.

    Upside to human cloning – Urkobold will be stymied with replacement taints flooding the market.

  17. Couldn’t you have your 18 year-old face transplanted and your withered one removed? What about all those weakening organs? If I was a billionaire, I’d pay to have all this done…

    Cloning oneself for replacement parts would seem less productive than cloning someone with great genetics for said part…i.e., why would you clone yourself when you could clone John Holmes or Albert Einstein? A variation on a sperm bank could fill the bill…talk about immortality!

  18. What about cloning jars full of un-whithered taints?

  19. de stijl,

    Dammit! Walk outside for a smoke and someone beats you to the punch…

  20. Yeah, and we all know how well most members of the UN provide the moral respect and human rights of ordinary people. Those lab-grown folk will be indistinguishable from them, right? In much the same way that the IRA and the UDA knew just whom to blow up.

    I agree with you. But I think this is the UN joining in on the “War against being different.”

  21. I am puzzled about why the U.N. report suggests that clones might be discriminated against or abused.

    Obviously you don’t read/watch enough science fiction.

  22. Clearly the reason that reproductive cloning should be banned is because cloning is an imperfect process, (see Dolly) and thus any reproductive clones would have be condemned by their birth to deal with a host of medical problems, a de facto violation of their human rights.

  23. Clearly the reason that reproductive cloning should be banned is because cloning is an imperfect process, (see Dolly) and thus any reproductive clones would have be condemned by their birth to deal with a host of medical problems, a de facto violation of their human rights.

    I hope you’re kidding. That argument could justify forced abortions for any fetus with any birth defects or genetic predisposition to illness.

  24. cloning is an imperfect process

    So is good old regular fucking-sperming-fertilized-egg-type reproduction.
    So guys who’ve ever smoked dope shouldn’t be allowed to fuck?
    Is that your point, Jeff?
    Or do you have one?

  25. Jennifer,

    That’s not the same thing at all as the effects of cloning are constantly negative due to the imperfect nature of the science. In other words, the genetic defect is pre-meditated. One can always predict that the human being born will have life impeding medical issues, and it shouldn’t have to be burdened with that.

    Or do you think its okay to say “Clone me a human even though I know it will have a shortened life time likely ended by multiple tumors.”

    You’re unfortunately mixing the ethics involved with scientific artificing with regular reproductive ethics when they’re is in fact very limited crossover.

  26. By the way, Jeff, it only took me about 30 seconds to look up Dolly, only to find that her early demise was due to a common disease in sheep.

    The only real difference between her and the rest of the flock was that the lung ailment she had was exacerbated by being kept indoors, which, being a science experiment and all, was kinda necessary…

  27. But what is it about clones that the UN thinks will make the average non-clone go “There’s one now! Get ’em!”

    As long as they don’t go around showing off their perfectly smooth bellies, they should be OK, Jennifer. Or give themselves nicknames like Joe “No Utero” Jones.

  28. Believe it or not, many people still think clones are created “ready-made”, as fully-formed adult copies. They’re ignorant of the science and therefore fearful of it.

    They likely won’t “look like you” anymore than a sibling. I believe a whole different in utero environment factors in here. Any biologist comments are welcome here.

  29. Cloned parts mean no rejection problems, no immuno-suppression drugs etc. So a face transplant is no biggy. Sorta.

    PS If I clone myself, does my beloved holy soul get cloned as well, or does God issue a new one? Or does it not get a soul and become forever damned to hell, and thus a risk to society because it will tend to go on crime sprees when not supervised? Just wondering.

  30. Wouldn’t mitochondrial DNA factor in as well? That’s another call for a trained biologist assistance.

  31. I’m not going to waste my day arguing about this, but I will provide this one last response.

    @Jamie
    As I previously said, cloning, unlike fucking, is a consistently imperfect process. Therefore different than fucking. Okay, to qualify “consistently imperfect,” there is a small chance things will go perfectly, but its the process itself that is consistently dangerous.

    As to your second comment, people wouldn’t like clones because as sad as it is, there’s alot of religious crazies out there. While I don’t support cowtowing to religious demands I do support possibly waiting a little while until the religious demands die down. It’s only a matter of time.

    @Tatix:
    Perhaps you should have looked longer than 30 seconds. Wikipedia isn’t exactly the world’s best source.
    Ian Wilmut, the head of the Dolly project, as well as a bunch of other scientists believe that Dolly’s death DID have something to do with her being a clone. In addition, there were well over 200 failed “Dollys,” a waste of valuable embryonic tissue and a testament to the problems with the process. (And since these all had to be scrapped, well suffice it to say with humans it would be a very ethical grey area to keep trying and discarding until things went well.) The tumour reference I made referred to what’s been happening to a bunch of cloned cats (look it up, it was at A&M I think.)

  32. I can’t decide if I’m happy the UN is wasting its time on a totally pointless exercise like this, or annoyed the UN is wasting etc.

  33. Jeff,

    Fair enough, my science knowledge ends when I reach the genetics shore…

    Now, if you want to argue about something useless, like gaming physics, bring it on!

  34. Those guys at the UN are a bunch of ass clones.

  35. I am puzzled about why the U.N. report suggests that clones might be discriminated against or abused. Clones will be fully human, so, of course they deserve the same moral respect we give to any and all other human beings.

    You don’t see why a group of people might be discriminated against, because they’re fully human and deserve not to be discriminated against?

    That’s either some grade A naivete, or the driest humor I’ve seen in some time.

  36. While I don’t support cowtowing to religious demands I do support possibly waiting a little while until the religious demands die down. It’s only a matter of time.

    Yeah Cuz it’s obvious that religion is a fading fad. It’s not like religion and religious zealotry has been around for thousands of years or anything

  37. ChicagoTom: Well, the religious objection to new scientific ideas does tend to die down after a while.

    Also, the reason clones have problems has nothing to do with the fact that clones themselves are inherently problematic. They experience a lot of problems because the current process is imperfect. Most clones are made by taking a modified egg then injecting it with a nucleus from certain cell of the animal they want cloned. Then they end up zapping the entire package with an electric current. Its very inelegant and (unsurprisingly) often results in damaged genetic material. I think that they will eventually improve the process and make cloning organs practical, but there is no reason why there should be an outright ban on it just because early scientific work shows some flaws.

  38. What about reproductive freedom?

  39. Since the grey-minded PC spouting apparachiks who inhabit the UN’s bureaucratic archipelago are the closest thing to clones presently stalking the earth, why not decree that the whole gulag, from Turtle Bay to Nairobi, be staffed by clones exclusively ?

    The only question is whose?

  40. I am puzzled about why the U.N. report suggests that clones might be discriminated against or abused. Clones will be fully human, so, of course they deserve the same moral respect we give to any and all other human beings.

    A few posts up, in the “faster than a speeding nanobot” thread, one of our regular posters — as intelligent and decent a human being as anyone here — looks forward to someday being able to upload his personality/memories from his aged original body into a clone.

    Assuming this is possible, it is rather blithely assumed that this is okay. But wait — doesn’t your clone get any say in this? What if it would prefer to live its own life, rather than be forced to continue living yours?

    One key question: Will your clone truly be treated as a fully human being, or will it be treated as your property, to do with as you will for your own benefit? I don’t think either answer is a foregone conclusion.

  41. Disclaimer: The fact that I raised the above questions should not be construed as meaning I am any fan of the United Nations.

  42. We have clones now. They are called identical twins. They have the same genetics, yet they are not the same person. Does the second-born twin have a soul? Oh my god, what are we going to do about this? Seriously, I’ve never understood the anti-cloning hysteria. Cloning could be a great way for infertile couples to conceive. So, the woman gives birth to her identical twin genetically, it’s still her child, it’s still a person with its own mind. Sorry, the anti-cloning folks are either religous zealots, are ignorant of the science, or just haven’t thought it through.

  43. But RB can’t seriously think people won’t discriminate against clones. You know, the same type of people who shrug at tyranny around the world but GodForbidTheMexicansCrosstheBorder. Mexicans are human beings too, but that doesn’t stop a good majority of people in the U.S. from supporting a border fence.

    How are potential discriminators to know that a person is a clone? I suppose they could just hate everybody and let God sort it out.

    You are confusing a border fence with discrimination.

  44. Many intended applications of cloning are nothing but benign,sure. But not all.

    If you decide to make a clone of yourself with the intent of treating it as property to be used for your own benefit, rather than as an individual human being that owns itself — as some people are already hoping they can do, which I previously noted — isn’t that a form of discrimination against the clone?

    Many futurist types already talk excitedly about the possibility of being able to create clones of yourself as “back-ups” into which you can download copies of your own memories if your “original” body becomes irretrievably damaged or aged. (Does the clone need its own fully formed “receiver” brain for this to happen? If so, would that make it a human individual in its own right?)

    More plausibly, at least in the near term, what if a person clones himself with the intention of using it to harvesting it for replacement organs for himself?

    If some people are enthusiastically looking forward to such possibilities already, then how can we blithely assume such possibilities will never be pursued? Outlawing cloning at this stage may be going too far, but you can’t just wave away the underlying concerns as baseless.

    Sorry, but some of the unreservedly pro-cloning folks are either “cloning is neat and futuristic!” fanboy zealots, ignorant of the possible ethical issues, or just haven’t thought it through. 😉

  45. More plausibly, at least in the near term, what if a person clones himself with the intention of using it to harvesting it for replacement organs for himself?

    Actually, this was done a few years ago, but not with a clone.

    Do you remember the case of the bright, photogenic young woman of about age 20, I think, who had a failing organ (kidneys???)? She was the only child of middle-aged (45 or so) parents who were found to be incompatible (with her) as organ donors. Her parents intentionally got pregnant to produce a sibling who would, they hoped, be a good donor. It worked. They produced a daughter who donated a kidney, and they all lived happily ever after. The story made a small stir amongst the hand-wringing set for a while.

  46. By the way, SteveO, I liked you better when you were a smart-aleck jokester who could always be counted on to find the comic, kinky sexual undertones in every H&R blog posting. 🙂

    Just kidding, of course. You actually raise very valid points about cloning. Frankly, I had always just thought, “yeah, great idea…” when presented with the clone-as-organ-bank-for-a-future-biocatastrophe-rainy-day notion.

    It is inconceivable to me that a full-clone might be treated as anything other than a fully vested human being. Where cloning technology might ethically be applied is growth of organs for replacement parts. I can see an interesting ethical dilemna where the organ being cultivated is a brain, though…

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