The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: Is there any useful writing on whether human reproductive cloning should be allowed?  (Read 760 times)

Offline thedoc

  • Forum Admin
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 511
  • Thanked: 12 times
    • View Profile
Kirsten Hees asked the Naked Scientists:
   Dear Sir or Madam,

My name is Kirsten Hees and I am writing a paper on whether or not human reproductive cloning should be allowed. I was wondering whether you have any suggenstions on sources that I could use to write this paper?

Thank you for your time and attention.

I look forward to hearing from you .

Yours faithfully,
Kirsten Hees
What do you think?
« Last Edit: 08/09/2016 03:53:01 by _system »


 

Offline alancalverd

  • Global Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4699
  • Thanked: 153 times
  • life is too short to drink instant coffee
    • View Profile
The statutory authority in the UK is the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority www.hfea.gov.uk which has published a great deal on the science and ethics of the subject.

For my twopennorth, I think one should ask why rather than how, since there is nothing inherently mysterious or  unsolvable about the process.

We aren't short of people. In fact there are already far too many people to permit a sustainable and acceptable standard of living for all. So "just to make babies" is not a valid reason. The traditional method is fun,  and available to almost everyone at no cost.

You might want to reproduce an ideal specimen. We do this with trees (edible bananas and cupressus leylandii being two very useful but sterile species) and potatoes, but these species have very few critical properties and are at best "valuable" rather  than ideal (imagine a disease-resistant banana, a hedge that grew to 2 meters in a year but no higher, a potato that doesn't rot when frozen in the ground...) so you would have to define your ideal human rather carefully. A clone of Venus Williams would look great, but if every Grand Slam final consisted of her playing a clone of Serena (or worse still, herself!), would anyone pay to watch the series?   

A source of spare parts for another child? This works well with cars. I had a Skoda back in the days when they were rare in the West. The guy who ran the spares shop in London found it quicker and more profitable to drive one from the Czechoslovakian factory each weekend and dismantle it to order, rather than fill in all the paperwork for importing each part separately  (the old 1000MB was exquisitely easy to dismantle - a masterpiece of nut and bolt engineering with no robot-welded parts). But here's the crunch: the most general definition of slavery is ownership of another human, and the test of ownership is the absolute right to modify/dismantle/terminate/sell an object. Thus the spare-part clone is a slave and slavery is illegal. And what do you do with the bits you can't sell? If I bought the headlamps, eventually, someone would want a Skoda rear fender, but if you implanted JaneB's eyes into JaneA, you would probably never need a spare buttock, and it won't fit anyone else. 

Creation of untermenschen? Interesting possibility: we could create an entirely new species that could....er....um.... We have dramatically reduced the need for manual labor, and upskilled production to the point where dirty and dangerous jobs are done by machines controlled by ubermenschen. Massed "infantry assaults" are a thing of the past: drones are flown and coal is mined by highly skilled teams driving million-dollar machines from a clean cockpit. Where danger persists at the sharp end, astronauts and Special Forces are  selected for both brains and brawn, but how many astronauts do we need, and would you want your enemy to clone a regiment of killers who are cleverer than you?   

On balance, I can see no inherent objection to cloning as a means of producing anything. "Playing god" is what we do every time we select plants and animals for breeding, have sex ourselves, or kill any living thing - including the bacteria that try to kill us. The big question is why?   
« Last Edit: 08/09/2016 10:01:12 by alancalverd »
 

Offline evan_au

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 4105
  • Thanked: 245 times
    • View Profile
Have a look at:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_cloning
http://www.bioethics.ac.uk/topics/reproductive-cloning.php

Quote from: alancalverd
A source of spare parts for another child?
There is some progress towards using induced pluripotent stem cells to grow miniature organs which might (one day) be useful as spare parts, without growing (and killing) an entire identical twin of yourself.
 

Offline alancalverd

  • Global Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4699
  • Thanked: 153 times
  • life is too short to drink instant coffee
    • View Profile
In principle this is ethically no different from an autologous skin graft or saphenous vein transplant, though the idea of growing and storing potential spare parts rather than "call order" grafts raises all sorts of technical issues, and reverts to the storekeeper's problem: guessing which bits are likely to get broken or wear out before the entire assembly becomes uneconomic.

Not a big deal for my Skoda chum, because any part would fit any vehicle (they only came in two colors at the time!) and you could obviously lay in a stock of consumables like brake pads and spark plugs, but human bits are all bespoke and component failures are very hard to predict.

Looking at a high-mileage model like myself, I find a cheap metal/ceramic hip works a lot better than the organic one it replaced, I might need an artificial lens which can be manufactured and fitted in minutes to a better specification than it can be grown in months, and I'm sure there are kosher pigs ready to give me their heart valves at less time and cost than making one from stem cells if I need it.

A spare kidney or pancreas would be an asset, but you tend to need these pretty quickly so you'd have to keep a full stock with worldwide access. Repair of a defective infant heart/lung/liver could be valuable but failure in an adult suggests an underlying systemic problem which might be better solved with a donor transplant.

I guess the real winner would be a nerve repair kit, especially one that spliced the spinal cord together. Definitely worth the investment, but one hell of an R&D project.
 

Offline Villi

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 50
  • Thanked: 2 times
    • View Profile
There's a lot of recent public announcements from China about genetically engineering human embryos with CRISPR. So really the next step would be to grow those embryos to maturity, which is probably one of the biggest obstacles in the science of cloning. Human embryos are required to be discarded and not allowed to be grown past a certain number of cell divisions or hours, but animals have already been cloned (Dolly the sheep) for a long time. You can even get your pet cloned and South Korea has, I believe, the best facilities for that.

It's probably not a matter of if it should be allowed, but when it will actually start publicly happening. It's probably been already done.

In terms of writing, look up ethical papers about CRISPR editing of human embryos and about Korean animal cloning facilities.
 

The Naked Scientists Forum


 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums