Ethics of cloning

In bioethics, the ethics of cloning refers to a variety of ethical positions regarding the practice and possibilities of cloning, especially human cloning. While many of these views are religious in origin, some of the questions raised by cloning are faced by secular perspectives as well. Perspectives on human cloning are theoretical, as human therapeutic and reproductive cloning are not commercially used; animals are currently cloned in laboratories and in livestock production.

Advocates support the development of therapeutic cloning in order to generate tissues and whole organs to treat patients who otherwise cannot obtain transplants, to avoid the need for immunosuppressive drugs, and to stave off the effects of aging. Advocates for reproductive cloning believe that parents who cannot otherwise procreate should have access to technology.

Opponents of cloning have concerns that technology is not yet developed enough to be safe, and that it could be prone to abuse, either in the form of clones raised as slaves, or leading to the generation of humans from whom organs and tissues would be harvested. Opponents have also raised concerns about how cloned individuals could integrate with families and with society at large.

Religious groups are divided, with some opposing the technology as usurping God's place and, to the extent embryos are used, destroying a human life; others support therapeutic cloning's potential life-saving benefits.

Cloning of animals is opposed by animal-groups due to the number of cloned animals that suffer from malformations before they die, and while meat of cloned animals has been approved by the US FDA, its use is opposed by some other groups concerned about food safety.

Philosophical debateEdit

The various forms of cloning, particularly human cloning, are controversial.[1] There have been numerous demands for all progress in the human cloning field to be halted. Most scientific, governmental and religious organizations oppose reproductive cloning. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and other scientific organizations have made public statements suggesting that human reproductive cloning be banned until safety issues are resolved.[2] Serious ethical concerns have been raised by the future possibility of harvesting organs from clones.[3]

Advocates of human therapeutic cloning believe the practice could provide genetically identical cells for regenerative medicine, and tissues and organs for transplantation.[4] Such cells, tissues, and organs would neither trigger an immune response nor require the use of immunosuppressive drugs. Both basic research and therapeutic development for serious diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, as well as improvements in burn treatment and reconstructive and cosmetic surgery, are areas that might benefit from such new technology.[5] One bioethicist, Jacob M. Appel of New York University, has gone so far as to argue that "children cloned for therapeutic purposes" such as "to donate bone marrow to a sibling with leukemia" may someday be viewed as heroes.[6][7]

Proponents claim that human reproductive cloning also would produce benefits to couples who cannot otherwise procreate. In the early 2000s Severino Antinori and Panos Zavos stirred controversy when they publicly stated plans to create a fertility treatment that allows parents who are both infertile to have children with at least some of their DNA in their offspring.[8]

In Aubrey de Grey's proposed SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence), one of the considered options to repair the cell depletion related to cellular senescence is to grow replacement tissues from stem cells harvested from a cloned embryo.[9]

There are also ethical objections. Article 11 of UNESCO's Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights asserts that the reproductive cloning of human beings is contrary to human dignity,[10] that a potential life represented by the embryo is destroyed when embryonic cells are used,[11] and there is a significant likelihood that cloned individuals would be biologically damaged, due to the inherent unreliability of cloning technology.[12]

Ethicists have speculated on difficulties that might arise in a world where human clones exist. For example, human cloning might change the shape of family structure by complicating the role of parenting within a family of convoluted kinship relations. For example, a female DNA donor would be the clone's genetic twin, rather than mother, complicating the genetic and social relationships between mother and child as well as the relationships between other family members and the clone.[13] In another example, there may be expectations that the cloned individuals would act identically to the human from which they were cloned, which could infringe on the right to self-determination.[14]

Proponents of animal rights argue that non-human animals possess certain moral rights as living entities and should therefore be afforded the same ethical considerations as human beings. This would negate the exploitation of animals in scientific research on cloning, cloning used in food production, or as other resources for human use or consumption.[15]

Religious viewsEdit

Religious views of cloning are mixed.[16][17]

Jainism and HinduismEdit

Hinduism views on cloning are very diverse. While some Hindu people view therapeutic cloning as necessary to fix childlessness, others believe it is immoral to tamper with nature.[18] The Sanatan Dharm (meaning the eternal set of duties for humans, which is what many people refer to Hinduism as) approves therapeutic cloning but does not approve human cloning. In Hinduism, one view has the creator, or the Brahman not as insecure to lay restrictions on scientific endeavours. Another view restricts human cloning. In Jainism, the birth of Mahavira is depicted as an operation of embryo transfer.[19]

In modern-day India, there have been clones of livestock species. Examples include Garima from the National Dairy Research Institute located in Karnal, where many other clones have been developed in Bovine species.


Jewish view on cloning is unclear, but some orthodox rabbis allows cloning as a method of reproduction if no other method is available. Also Jewish religion treats all life equally even if it was formed by cloning.[20] Liberal Jewish groups oppose the cloning of humans.[21]


Most of the Christian churches, including World council of Churches and United Methodist Church, oppose the research of cloning of either human embryos or whole human.[21] The Roman Catholic Church, under the papacy of Benedict XVI, condemned the practice of human cloning, in the magisterial instruction Dignitas Personae, stating that it represents a "grave offense to the dignity of that person as well as to the fundamental equality of all people."[22] Many conservative Christian groups have opposed human cloning and the cloning of human embryos, since they believe that life begins at the moment of conception.[23] Other Christian denominations such as the United Church of Christ do not believe a fertilized egg constitutes a living being, but still they oppose the cloning of embryonic cells.


According to the fatwa issued by Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi in the topic of cloning, Islam is opposed to human cloning. According to Islam, cloning of the entire human body is forbidden because of the following reasons:

  • It contradicts the diversity of creation.[24]
  • The relationship between donor and clone can not be determined.[24]
  • Cloning only requires one gender for genetic information which opposes the natural pattern of creating life by the pairing of a male and a female.[24]

Islam allows and recommends cloning of a specific part of human body for purpose of treatment.[24][21]

Animal cloning is allowed in Islam only if it bring benefits to all people and no harm is caused to the animal used in the cloning process.[21][24]

Animal cloningEdit

Cloned animals are used in medical research, pet cloning or for food.[25]

Medical researchEdit

Cloned animals are used in scientific and medical research such as therapeutic cloning, stem cell research and human antibody production. One of the main ethical issues about this research procedure is it can be painful for the animal and often result in mental and physical damage.[26] Another ethical problem is that clones created for medical purpose have very poor quality of life as tests are constantly being conducted on them.[25]

Pet cloningEdit

In 2005, an article in The Hastings Center Report said:

Critics of pet cloning typically offer three objections: (1) the cloning process causes animals to suffer; (2) widely available pet cloning could have bad consequences for the overwhelming numbers of unwanted companion animals; and, (3) companies that offer pet cloning are deceiving and exploiting grieving pet owners.[27]

Cloning animals for foodEdit

On December 28, 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the consumption of meat and other products from cloned animals.[28] Cloned-animal products were said to be indistinguishable from the non-cloned animals. Furthermore, companies would not be required to provide labels informing the consumer that the meat comes from a cloned animal. In 2007, some meat and dairy producers did propose a system to track all cloned animals as they move through the food chain, suggesting that a national database system integrated into the National Animal Identification System could eventually allow food labeling.[29][30] However, as of 2013 no tracking system exists, and products from cloned animals are sold for human consumption in the United States.[31][32]

Critics have raised objections to the FDA's approval of cloned-animal products for human consumption, arguing that the FDA's research was inadequate, inappropriately limited, and of questionable scientific validity.[33][34] Several consumer-advocate groups are working to encourage a tracking program that would allow consumers to become more aware of cloned-animal products within their food.[35]

A 2013 review noted that there is widespread misunderstanding about cloned and cattle, and found that cloned cattle that reached adulthood and entered the food supply were substantially equivalent to conventional cattle with respect to the quality of meat and milk, and with respect to their reproductive capability.[36]

In popular cultureEdit


  1. ^ Pence GE (1998). Who's Afraid of Human Cloning?. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 0-8476-8782-1. paperback and hardcover.
  2. ^ "AAAS Statement on Human Cloning". Archived from the original on 2012-09-11. Retrieved 2013-12-15.
  3. ^ McGee G (October 2011). "Primer on Ethics and Human Cloning". American Institute of Biological Sciences. Archived from the original on 2013-02-23.
  4. ^ Kfoury C (July 2007). "Therapeutic cloning: promises and issues". McGill Journal of Medicine. 10 (2): 112–20. PMC 2323472. PMID 18523539.
  5. ^ "Cloning Fact Sheet". U.S. Department of Energy Genome Program. 2009-05-11. Archived from the original on 2013-05-02.
  6. ^ Appel JM (2005-12-11). "What Would a Clone Say?". New York Times Magazine.
  7. ^ Appel, Jacob M. (2009-04-05). "Should We Really Fear Reproductive Human Cloning?". The Blog. The Huffington Post.
  8. ^ Staff, Times Higher Education. August 10, 2001 In the news: Antinori and Zavos
  9. ^ de Grey, Aubrey; Rae, Michael (September 2007). Ending Aging: The Rejuvenation Breakthroughs that Could Reverse Human Aging in Our Lifetime. New York, NY: St. Martin's Press, 416 pp. ISBN 0-312-36706-6.
  10. ^ "Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights". UNESCO. 1997-11-11. Retrieved 2008-02-27.
  11. ^ Meissner A, Jaenisch R (September 2006). "Mammalian nuclear transfer". Developmental Dynamics. 235 (9): 2460–9. doi:10.1002/dvdy.20915. PMID 16881069. S2CID 37253523.
  12. ^ Friend T (2003-01-16). "The Real Face of Cloning". USA Today.
  13. ^ McGee G (2000). The Perfect Baby: Parenthood in the New World of Cloning and Genetics (2nd ed.). Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 0-8476-9758-4.
  14. ^ Havstad JC (February 2010). "Human reproductive cloning: a conflict of liberties". Bioethics. 24 (2): 71–7. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8519.2008.00692.x. PMID 19076121.
  15. ^ Staff, Humane Society Cloning
  16. ^ Bob Sullivan, Technology correspondent for NBC News. November 262003 Religions reveal little consensus on cloning - Health - Special Reports - Beyond Dolly: Human Cloning
  17. ^ Bainbridge WS (October 2003). "Opposition to Cloning". Journal of Evolution and Technology. 13 (2).
  18. ^ "Hindu arguments for and against cloning - Fertility issues - BBC".
  19. ^ Guttman & Guttman (1980). "Historical Note on Embryo Transfer". Fertility and Sterility. 34 (5): 513–515. doi:10.1016/s0015-0282(16)45148-4. PMID 7002632.
  20. ^ "Jewish Law - Articles ("Cloning People and Jewish Law: A Preliminary Analysis")". Retrieved 2019-10-17.
  21. ^ a b c d Elsersawi, Amin, author. (2016-08-05). Gene editing, epigenetic, cloning and therapy. ISBN 9781524621995. OCLC 956693135.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  22. ^ Stein R, Boorstein M (13 December 2008). "Vatican Ethics Guide Stirs Controversy". The Washington Post.
  23. ^ "On the Ethics of Stem Cell Research" (PDF). Focus. Michigan Catholic Conference. 33 (1). February 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-09-28.
  24. ^ a b c d e "Islam Online - Fatwa". 2006-04-27. Archived from the original on 2006-04-27. Retrieved 2019-10-17.
  25. ^ a b "Animal cloning | Understanding Animal Research". Understanding Animal Research. Retrieved 2019-11-14.
  26. ^ Fiester, Autumn (2005-06-01). "Ethical Issues in Animal Cloning". Center for Bioethics Papers. 48 (3): 328–43. doi:10.1353/pbm.2005.0072. PMID 16085991. S2CID 10484539.
  27. ^ Fiester, Autumn (July 2005). "Creating Fido's Twin: Can Pet Cloning Be Ethically Justified?". The Hastings Center Report. 35 (4): 34–39. doi:10.2307/3528826. ISSN 0093-0334. JSTOR 3528826. PMID 16225304.
  28. ^ "FDA says cloned animals are OK to eat". Associated Press. December 28, 2006.
  29. ^ "". The San Francisco Chronicle. 2007-12-19.[dead link]
  30. ^ Pentland W, Gumpert DE (2007-12-31). "USDA Bets the Farm on Animal ID Program". The Nation.
  31. ^ "Genetic Copies Of N Bar Primrose 2424 Dominate Sales At 2008 National Western" (Press release). Bovance. 2009-02-03. Archived from the original on 2013-09-30. Retrieved 2013-09-26.
  32. ^ Paynter B. "Cloned Beef (and Pork and Milk): It's What's for Dinner". Wired. 15 (11). Archived from the original on 2015-04-05.
  33. ^ "An HSUS Report: Welfare Issues with Genetic Engineering and Cloning of Farm Animals" (PDF). Humane Society of the United States.
  34. ^ Hansen M (2007-04-27). "Comments of Consumers Union to US Food and Drug Administration on Docket No. 2003N-0573, Draft Animal Cloning Risk Assessment" (PDF). Consumers Union.
  35. ^ "Tell Congress to create a tracking system for cloned animals!". Center for Food Safety. Archived from the original on 2009-04-04.
  36. ^ Watanabe S (September 2013). "Effect of calf death loss on cloned cattle herd derived from somatic cell nuclear transfer: clones with congenital defects would be removed by the death loss". Animal Science Journal. 84 (9): 631–8. doi:10.1111/asj.12087. PMID 23829575.
  37. ^ Lepore, Jill (April 16, 2015). "The History Lurking Behind "Orphan Black"". The New Yorker.
  38. ^ Vint, Sherryl (2017), "Commodified Life: Post-Humanism, Cloning and Gender in Orphan Black", Science Fiction, Ethics and the Human Condition, Cham: Springer International Publishing, pp. 95–113, doi:10.1007/978-3-319-56577-4_7, ISBN 978-3-319-56575-0, retrieved 2021-03-24
  39. ^ Stephanie, Petrillo (2014-01-01). Moral Theories and Cloning in Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go. eScholarship, University of California. OCLC 1114715440.

Further readingEdit