A separation of cloning and state

Eric Lanser

Scientific progress has brought man from the cave to where he stands today. Human beings’ ability to use the products of science – whether spears, light bulbs, laptop computers or penicillin – is what sets us apart from the rest of the animals. Human knowledge and science are responsible for extending human life and liberating time for the enjoyment of life.Another round of advances could be just around the corner. Promising fields involving genetic engineering and cloning are coming of age. Genetic engineering promises to change the food we eat, enhance the trees we grow and harvest, and maybe even alter individuals’ own genetic codes to prevent many diseases.

Cloning also promises numerous benefits. There is a terrific demand for organs in this country and around the world. In the U.S., the transplant organ waiting list numbers about 50,000.

A technique involving the transplant of organs from animals to humans, xenotransplantation, has had some limited success. This success could be augmented by genetically engineering animals such as pigs to be better organ donors.

However, transplantations, even between human beings, carry a significant risk of rejection by the recipient’s body. Genetically identical organs would not suffer the risk of rejection. As far as DNA goes, the body would not be able to tell them apart.

“Therapeutic” cloning is the process of artificially growing replacement organs. This process would help real people and prevent real loss of life. As with any emerging field, cloning has many other potential applications. For example, cloning could be used to help infertile couples have children. One need not be a biologist to know that cloning could be of inestimable benefit to human life.

This brings up the topic of the “ethical considerations” of cloning. The ethical point relevant here seems obvious. Cloning and genetic engineering are beneficial to human life. What greater ethical consideration could there be on this matter?

Notions of clone armies or slave clones are silly. Both suggest that clones wouldn’t have rights. However, one does not get their rights based on the process by which they were created. A baby born to a mother who was raped, or one made possible by in vitro fertilization, has the same rights as any baby. A person with the same genetic code as another human being has the same rights as everybody else. Requiring such a person to join an army is just as wrong as forcing anyone else to.

The government need not support research into cloning, genetic engineering or any other field. It would be immoral to force people who do not believe in cloning, whether they are right or wrong, to support it with their money in the form of taxes.

All scientists need is for the government to stay out of their way and to allow them to discover and invent in peace. Then, those who are willing to spend their time, money and effort on researching cloning will do so, likely to their own benefit and all of ours.