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Italian, U.S. Scientists Unveil Human Cloning Efforts 173

Lepruhkawn writes: "As described in this Yahoo article , scientists say they plan to clone members of infertile couples. I imagine that it's not so much success that people are concerned about as the failed attempts. Alien: Resurrection anyone?"
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Italian, U.S. Scientists Unveil Human Cloning Efforts

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    You could stick it in a cage, take pictures and open up a pay-per website.

    What I really want, though, is for science to come up with a method to take a sperm cell and grow it until it becomes large enough to keep as a pet. What a great thrill it would be to take a sperm out for a walk. Of course, it would suck if it ran away. You'd be walking around shouting out "Here Spermy, Spermy, Spermy" and then listening for squishing noises. Then there's the risk of the sperm falling into the ocean and impregnating a whale, creating a master race of whomans. Still, though, giant sperm on a leash is worth it all.
  • I've been on both Slashdot since we thought people with UIDS above 1000 were newcomers, I've been on the Well even longer, and I have never thought Slashdot was as polite or well-moderated as the Well.

    And FYI, Rob Malda couldn't spell then either, and we *liked* him that way, dammit!

    - Robin 'roblimo' Miller
    "happily not correcting CmdrTaco's
    spelling since Slashdot started."
  • I have to admit that I don't quite understand the ethical hysteria that has surrounded the issue of human cloning. It's not as if "cloning" will produce an exact replica of a person, right down to the last sub-atomic particle. All that cloning would do is produce a being that is genetically identical to the being that it was cloned from.

    so does this mean that the world will finally have satan and sadam as gay lovers? i knew the south park movie was an omen.... ;)
  • Jello Biafra said it best:

    Biotech is Godzilla

  • Because we're still hung up on the idea that your "bloodline" has any value? That your own genetics, in a sea of six billion other bags of dna, actually have any significance? The urge to continue ones own bloodline, actually genetic line, is an urge comon and basic to all living species.

    Further, the argument that no-one is more important, more useful, or otherwise better than anyone else is the cry of those that are, themselves, of no importance, use to Society, etc.

    One effect that I predict is that (since this is likely to be expensive), it will be limited to those who have in some way been successful and have some wealth or income. This will then pretty much guarantee that resources will be available to the resulting child to adulthood and also that it will be limited to those that have in some way already contributed to Society.

  • Oh yeah. And HUMAN CLONING is *so easy*.
  • Previous poster said that adoption was hard. As if that was a justification for the ethical nightmares of human cloning (which btw isn't particularly easy either, even if it were legal).
  • And what, exactly, is the problem with this? Is it that this hypothetical, evil "rich person" has a viable donor in case he needs one?

    What if he needs a heart?


  • Actually, the DNA endcaps are called telomers. "Telomerase" is some substance that regenerates it.
  • Most all of the various non-DNA prints that are in use today are determined developmentally, not by the DNA. In other words, a set of identical twins has different fingerprints, retina prints, and so on. 50 cloned people will also have different prints.
  • If anything, it's a sign that whatever's being done ought not to be done.

    So I take it you spend a lot of time staring into the sun?
  • This is how it starts. First they say it's just some harmless cloning. Then soon their are some Jedi that get cloned and all of a sudden you have a full blown clone wars on your hands. Don't these scientist realize what road they are taking us on.
  • That's the same type of argument that can be used to show the ethical problem with manufacturing crowbars. Someone might use the crowbar to burglarize, or they might hit someone over the head with it.

    Just about anything can be abused in some way. That doesn't mean that everything comes with an "ethical problem."

    BTW, If your hypothetical rich person imprisons or kills the clone or otherwise helps himself to the needed organ without the clone's consent, then he's breaking laws that already exist.

  • It seems that POKEY [] was right about those Italians all along.

  • tried to adopt. (I agree with this previous poster.) I work with a guy who (he and his wife) has tried 3 different times to adopt since they are unable to conceive on their own. He's one of the nicest guys you could meet and they would make great parents.

    1st time: birth mother changed her mind at the last minute.
    2nd time: it was an interstate operation and some beaurocrat found a blank on a form they forgot to sign (there were about 30 to sign and they'd already signed twice on the page.). This was after they had had the kid for a week! (you never saw a grown man cry like that)
    3rd time: the biological grandparents wanted the kid and had decided this after my friend and his wife had put in lots of time and money.
    My friend went through his entire life savings doing this shit and look what it got him. My apologies for cussing but some of you idiots only seem to listen if there is profanity involved. FUCKING MORONS! pull your heads out of your asses and SHUT THE HELL UP if you've never been through the adoption process. It's not as simple as here's-a-loving-family-who-will-give-you-a-good-ho me. Instead it's as political as everything else.
  • ``We have a great deal of knowledge. We can grade embryos, we can do genetic screening, we can do quality control,'' Zavos said.

    It sounds to me like they're trying to make the precept of the movie 'Gattica' reality. You filter out the bad genes, keep the 'good' ones and voila! Super-Baby(tm)!

    I, for one, do not want to go through a DNA-checking machine when I enter work in the morning. Swiping my badge through the door locks is bad enough.
  • Funny you should harp on CmdrTaco's grammatical mistakes (bad as they are) when you don't realise that pluralising with an apostrophe is never correct.
  • Having just undergone a surrogacy procedure, I can shed some light on this. Embryos are graded on their ability to grow and divide. In an introvito fertilization (IVF) procedure, a 'raw' egg is withdrawn from the female donor and combined in a laboratory with the sperm of the male donor. Fertilization takes place and the resulting embryo is permitted to divide several times. However, not all embryos are created equal. Some of them divide, some of them divide faster, and some fail to divide at all. Embryos that divide faster are preferred over those that divide at slower rates. Besides, in cloning situations, the genetic makeup of the cloned embryo would be identical to that of the genetic donor. Furthermore, with very few exceptions, we don't really know which genes cause specific diseases, so I don't think we need to worry too much about perfect babies. Give it a couple of years, though! nebulo
  • If you clone an infertile parent, don't you end up with someone infertile? Seems a bit depressing.
  • Someone please mod up the comments pointing out the technical flaws (telomeres, not telemorases; more "complex" genome; etc) and mod down the "technical issues of 'human cloning'" post.

    I come here hoping to read intelligent comments by knowledgable folks. The last thing we need is some blow-hard, claiming credentials he obviously doesn't have, getting modded up to 5! For goodness sake, my degree is in Physics/Mathematics, no biology since high school, and even I know the difference between telomeres and telomerase, and that human genomes are no more complex than other higher vertebrates!

    If you have something to say, by all means say it, but don't claim to be an expert when you don't know a telomere from your ass!

  • You might want to read the scifi book _Spares_ by Michael Marshall Smith. It's related to clones used as spare parts.

  • by wolf- ( 54587 )
    No, you arent the only one.
    The line that got me is this one:

    ``We have a great deal of knowledge. We can grade embryos, we can do genetic screening, we can do quality control,'' Zavos said.

    Grading? Screening? Quality Control? All imply an imperfect creation process. And, on what criteria do we screen? or grade? What passes? No artheritis genes? no alergies? are we just looking for 12 toes? how about weight? we only want the big babies (new studies claim big babies smarter).
  • The reference to "the American attitude" typifies the trivialization of Hollywood. Hollywood is an extremely ethical issue, "one which readers of slashdot probably have some intelligent opinions [sic]."

    I remember when Hollywood was like entertainment, a polite, well-moderated haven in amongst the tabloid junk and filth. Now it's all about Slashdot, which is a shame.

    Honk if you know the difference
    between parody and satire.
  • The genie is out of the bottle.

    It's late and I can't easily form cogent arguments.

    Fuck religious/moral screwballs and grow my evil twin!

  • Ye non-believers can skip this one.

    Assuming they could, as dr. D pointed out, make it past the problems of knowing, well very little, about developmental biology (a fetus can't sign a waiver to draw blood for study... research irb's would just laugh at the thought), would this thing get a soul? Is this a property of a body given at birth or something assigned at conception?

    Any of you (prolly one) theologists out there please give a serious response. I'm really interested in this.
  • What? wtf does that have to do with anything?
  • As if that was a justification for the ethical nightmares of human cloning

    Well seeing that I am the previous poster, I feel I am an expert on my comment, and that is not what I was trying to say at all. What I was trying to say was that the original poster in this thread was using unjustified and ridiculous facts. I wasn't trying to justify human cloning, just saying that the original poster in the thread's was doing his best Al Gore impersonation.
  • Others have pointed out the flaws in your argument, but I think that even your data is flawed. I have actually heard that it is REALLY hard to adopt a child. I know of a fairly wealthy couple who had to travel to Russia to find one. Do you have any support for your claim of "millions of children waiting to be adobted," because the number seems extremely inflated.
  • Your "arguments" are full of ad hominem attacks ... just in case you didn't notice it before.

    I'm not nearly old enough to be a hippie, I'm not a poet, there is reality between the extremes of "everyone is living out some kind of complex scenario" and "it's all as simple as this," and yes I have interacted with a large number of human beings in the various places in which I've lived.

    I never said that everybody was great, only that "they" (the particular "type" of people you were describing) aren't all as simple and cruel as you would portray them.

    But what do I know, now I'm just a "fucking hippie." So stop wasting your time with dumb fucks like me and go give the good news to all of the neurologists out there that you've discovered the underlying principles of human thought and behavior. What a brilliant and observant person you are.
  • by Kalani ( 66189 )
    It's truthful only in that it shows how stupid, small-minded, and insensitive some people are. It does nothing to prove that orphans are vile human beings or that their parents were the scum of the Earth. There's an assumed superiority here that harkens back to "we don't let them in our schools because those filthy blacks would do nothing but taint our godly white kids." That is to say that the real underlying motive is dehumanization. All of this ridiculous vile talk only serves to strip a human being of his or her title as "human being" and (in the mind of the speaker) justifies any equally awful behavior toward the person(s). In any case, the poster's remark describing the sort of children who are up for adoption is NOT truthful ... the life of any human being is never as simple as that.
  • Gosh you've got it all pinned down right there. As if there can be any case that's actually as simple as that. You will, of course, remember that the next time you do something stupid ... it will encapsulate *you* for the rest of your life. That is, if you trip and fall tomorrow ... your children will be stupid monkeys incapable of standing on their own two legs. As for the "crap shoot" scenario ... even Einsteins come out of "sloppy trailer-park whores" (as if that label actually embodies ANY single human being.)

    What mistakes did your ancestors make?
  • Well said. The issue of cloning was discussed in my Cell Bio class back when that old physicist guy said he would do it 2 years ago. The word that my professor used to describe him was "Quack", with a capitol Q. The technical details of doing the actual work in a lab currently require millions of dollars of equipment, a very well educated team of researchers, and at best you'll get one-in-a-thousand successful results each step of the way. The second you come out as a scientist saying you're cloning anything, you'd better have a prominent job title and a reputable school or company behind your name, and most importantly, be able to point to your own published results in a REPUTABLE journal. Otherwise you're asking for ridicule from your collegues, and you can kiss your biotech career goodbye.
  • Better yet two Katz's and two sets of his ever popular stories.
  • It's nice that they have finally decided to go public with the information. I suspect that infertile (and same-sex) couples have been beating down the doors of genetics researchers for such attempts since the Scottish sheep announcement. There has probably already been clandestine attempts and maybe even a success.

    But it all has to start somewhere. I don't see how it's possible to go from knowing that cloning is possible straight to what I see as the goal of the research, which is to be able to clone specific organs or whole blood. I think that you have to start by building a few whole bodies, since that's the simplest thing to do. If we can do so under the moniker of 'helping childless couples', fine, as long as the research gets done.

    I don't think anyone wants to be the last person to die from failing to get an organ transplant. This research is vitally important, it has to start somewhere.

    Yes, I know that the world is overpopulated. Genetic research may provide solutions to that, too, better food, more efficiency, trees that grow up to be houses, who knows?

    I know that someone will probably try to 'engineer' a nine foot tall basketball hero. But, really, who is going to be able to get away with such nonsense in the media circus/infopocalypse we have today? Everyone can find out anything they want to know about anyone they want to research. Do you think that no one is going to notice when two short people have gigantic athlete offspring?

    This is the world we live in. Morality will adjust itself to the concept of cloning soon since it's pro-survival. Our concepts of ethics are based on the continuation of our society, and ultimately cloning will benefit humanity.
  • Of much greater concern is genetically modified humans. THAT is something very serious - and the time is coming. I recently saw an article describing the first genetically modified primate - a monkey with a special gene that produces a flourescent dye for use in research. Now THAT is scary.
    Gee would that "flourescent dye" happen to be Beta-Galactose being formed by integrating a virus with a promotor region and the reporter gene lacZ?

    Frankly, that's not terribly exciting. You can stick luciferace, or just about anything you want into a primate or any other animal. (Even plants.... some genetic botanist made a glow in the dark tabacco plant on my campus [luciferace (glow gene) coupled to a promotor of xylem growth]).

    There's really not much "genetic engineering" going on. It's primarily genetic addition, and furthermore, it's very heavy handed to say the least.

    Don Armstrong -".naidnE elttiL etah I"
  • Twins have similar, but different, fingerprints and retinal scans.

    Search google on "twins fingerprints retinal" to retrieve numerous references.

    It's nice to keep in mind that numerous individuals with identical DNA exist. Don't go off the deep end, dude. Like everything else that people get excited about, it is just an incremental change.
  • I don't know if any of you have read the book "Cyteen", but it goes into some of the issues mentioned in comments.

    the idea of a set of 'twins' 30 years apart, and clones having seperate identities.

    Poor little no puppy toe!

  • Suppose a couple decides to have themselves cloned, and raise the clones as children. This could lead to some strange social consequences. What would happen if the children fell in love, and decided to start a family of their own? Secondly, if that were to happen, would the children be at all attracted to their parents?

    Next problem. We've got technology that can use biotechnology as a security measure, because (in theory, anyway) no two fingerprints/retina scans/voiceprints/etc. are the same. What would happen if we had 50 people with the same physical features? That would almost certainly kill this security technology because it would probably be ineffective against clones (perhaps not the voiceprints, but otherwise . . .).

    Finally, and this is again in the security area, wouldn't clones be far more likely to guess your passwords?
  • I don't think the ethical issue arises until they have to decide whether or not to destroy one of their mistakes.
  • Yeah, it's serious. So is having sex. Birth defects, abortion, overpopulation...
  • The Roto-Rooter man if it got stuck.
  • Is it legal to kill a clone?

    I mean, are you killing a human, or does the clone fit into the "cloned for meat/body parts" category?

  • ... welcome to Gattaca!

  • Maybe because getting through all the red tape, court proceedings and other crap just to get custody is too much work? It's a lot easier to just have your own. Do you think many couples would be allowed to have kids if you had to get a license to reproduce?


  • The greatest strength of humanity is neither our Science, our Technology, or our Military. It is our diversity.

    Why did we as a species survive the Black Death in Europe? How do we ensure the proliferation of the species in the face of so many unknowns:- new diseases, climatic variations, emergance of new rivals...? Simple - we diversify.

    Having a very diverse pool makes a species resilliant. For individuals, it tends to suck, but for the species as a whole it's Nature's best way of ensuring that we survive in the face of unknown dangers. Give us diversity, and allow the species to adapt.

    Many of the so-called genetic "disorders" that people complain of are theref or a very good reason. My strongest example is Sickle Cell Anaemia in Africa. The reason this fatal (recessive) genetic disorder has not been eliminated is because in it's inactive state it confers some resistance to Malaria

    Bizarrely enough, the same thing seems to be true with culture. A diverse cultuure is a vibrant, thriving one. Culture dominated by one group becomes bland, grey, and less free.

    I've always considered that the great joke of life is that diversity is our strength, and yet so many people seem to loathe it. "We don't like you new folks round here, with your foreign ways..." Someone up there really knew how to stitch us up :)

    But broadly, I'm oppossed to Human Cloning because I see vast moral issues here, and because I feel that the process of duplicating an existing Human does not do anything to strengthen our culture. The potential for abuse horrifies me.

  • Yeah... Okay, I had a few too many beers in me to be constructing posts to Slashdot... and of course "Preview" seemed like a waste of time :)
  • I've wondered about cloning myself... if either my wife (I'm unmarried -- this is hypothetical) were ever sterile.

    I think it would be inresting... to say the last. Personally I was born with some birth defects; I've always wondered what I would be without them -- they're cosmetic (as beat as we can tell)... but I've wondered what I would be like _without_ those.

    Aside from that.. I'm an irregular person.. my parents were greatly confused by me when I was growing up for reasons I won't go into -- I'm also of considerably above average intelligence.

    Given my genetic makeup... and the possibly of being raised by a person who knew _exactly_ how your mind operated would be rather intresting.

    To some extent I see it as being able to go back in time and to teach yourself things you know now ahead of time -- and speed up your development. Which is perhaps what parents do now; but with it being YOU that you're teaching it brings thing to a whole new level.

    It's interesting.. perhaps completely unethical and wrong.. but an interesting thought. The funny part I've often wondered about is this: Say I clonsed myself for the first child.. and my wife for the second. Logically the two children would also be good mates for eachother (assuming things like this are genetic) and it would be naturual for the "children" to couple together late in life. Very freaking weird thought there...

    Justin Buist
  • Alien Resurrection? Maybe Gattica or something, but Alien 4 was just plain silly...

    In any case, if couples are infertile, am I the only one who thinks adoption is a better alternative to cloning? Yes, there's the vanity of having a child who will more likely than not resemble one of the parents, and yes, there is the biological imperative of passing on your genes, but dammit, them's a lot of babies out there without parents...
    Lord Omlette
    ICQ# 77863057
  • appear to be saying that if you clone an infertile couple, you'll get an infertile child. isn't the point of selecting the genes of the clone to prevent 'defects' like that?

    blahblahblah, i know selecting the genes you want goes against nature and natural selection and all that good stuff, but i think saying that 'the clone of an infertile couple will be infertile' is unreasonable... right?
    Lord Omlette
    ICQ# 77863057
  • This is weird. I assume that the fertilized egg would be implanted in the mother-to-be's womb for gestation. Oooh that gets strange. In a matter of speaking, you give birth to either yourself, or your husband.

    Inquiring mind to CloneKid: So, who's your Mom?
    CloneKid: I am!


    Did these people happen to think about this? Cripes I think I would be too wierded out for words. I can understand growing a clone for aftermarket parts, so to speak. But not growing a little you so you can have kids. Adopt. It's much better psychologically. Think of the little rug rat. What's it going to do to the little tikes noodle when mum or pop is its identical twin as well?

    This is too much for me.


  • ..but cloning of people who have been removed from the gene pool via "Natural Selection" is.
  • Another reason many couples don't consider adoption is because of the incredible drain of time and money it takes on you. There are a LOT of hoops you have to jump through to adopt a child, and if you do succeed, there's always the chance that one of the kids biological relatives will say, hold on, we made a mistake, we want the kid back, and they do have a chance of taking away someone who's become a member of your family.

  • Just wait until you need a new liver or heart transplant, then you'll be wishing they could just clone you a new one. One of the benefits of cloning is making replacements parts, not entire humans.
  • Yup. Assuming the father was prediposed to be attracted to the mother, so with the "son" = Father, II, be so disposed. Same is true for the
    mother, she'll be just as attracted to her "son" as she was to his replica 20 years before.

    What if there are a son and daughter, they'll fall in love with each other and with their mother and father!!
  • amen bro

    there are too many ppl in the world already, seems strange not to adopt someone who is wanting parents and instead go thru the expense of cloning or IVF or whatever

  • Hmm, judging by my userID, I've been here at least two or so years longer than you have, and even I can't remember Slashdot being "a polite, well moderated haven." You sure it wasn't you were talking about?
  • This is a fact of life: the wealthy will always have more at their disposal than the poor.

    Sure, by definition of wealth. But most people believe that the wealthy don't deserve better health care, better access to the legal system or more political influence, since these are basic human rights which apply to every person equally. So equalization at least in those areas is completely justified.

    By the way, since you were talking about the miserable failures of communism, you may also want to investigate the embarassing recent failures of trying to introduce capitalism in Eastern Europe.


  • Your argument makes me wonder what people thought about the invention of the gun. Was there some wacko out there saying that because of the invention of the gun, everyone would own one, and we'd all kill each other off within a month?

    Your argument only makes sense if you think that government isn't made up of PEOPLE. Laws exist, as do grassroots movements that affect change.

    Perhaps we should just not do ANY medical research that could be beneficial - gosh, someone might misuse it!

    Get a grip.
  • It depends on WHY the parent(s) was sterile in the first place. Plenty of people become sterile because of accidents or diseases.

    Nevertheless, I'm a big believer in adoption.

    But on the other hand, I think cloning _technology_ is a great thing - if they can make it possible to clone individual bodyparts, that would go a long way toward helping out people who need transplants. I'd certainly like a replacement organ to get rid of my Diabetes. *sigh*

    As far as cloning someone who is genetically sterile - that's not necessarily a bad thing. What if Einstein had been sterile? Would that make cloned offspring of his a bad idea? No way! Something to think about...
  • Far out! That is so awesome. That's even better than Bart Simpson's idea of a half-man, half-monkey type creature. "God, schmod, I want my monkey-man!"

    But think about it - what if we COULD change our DNA? I wouldn't mind getting rid of genetic diseases for good. I'm sure my entire family could do without having Diabetes, for one, and the history of cancer & heart disease isn't too pleasant, either, or the congenital heart problems and kidney problems that run in the other side of the family.

    Equating fixing genetic diseases with creating Frankensteinian monsters is taking things to a major extreme. There _can_ be a happy medium, _assuming_ we can master the technology involved, which is, I'll admit, a pretty big assumption.

    If they can just get rid of that Republican & Democrat DNA...*wishful thinking*
  • Yeah, and if they each have a clone of themselves, then when the little ones grow up, they can marry each other and continue it indefinitely!

    To paraphrase Mr. Spock, "It's incest, Jim, but not as we know it."

    Society will get _seriously_ fucked up, but I'm sure the ratings on Jerry Springer will skyrocket!
  • The ultimate question underlying the controversiality of cloning and other genetic technology is really a question about how far we should go with applying medicine.

    The problem I see with cloning is not that people wouldn't find it ethically bankrupt, it's that people are so bent on perfection that they will try to conceal ideas behind the notion of applying medicine. Right now we are all so comfortable with frivolous surgeries and manipulation of ourselves that the "should we?" question about cloning has really already been answered. Look at our entire philosophy on medicine: we believe in learning technology and applying it. When you really consider the kinds of medical procedures we have been practicing, it does not seem unthinkable that we have been playing God for some time.

    The sad truth is that disease and disability are just nature's way of maintaining balance; they will not render us extinct, we will.

  • Called identical twins.
    Maybe 50% of personality is genetic and other 50%
    is life experiences. Identical twins will have
    somewhat similar personalities from genetics and
    being raised together.
  • I have no moral problem with cloning as long as they do it right which obviously takes some scientific experimentation to get to the point where it does work 99% of the time. No other way to become expert at a new technology. But for the couples I don't see why they bother. I'd just adopt. What you put in a kids head does at least as much to shape who they are as your genetics so why risk all kinds of medical problems in your child due to mistakes in the experimental cloning process? Let them perfect it on sheep first. :)
  • Think about it. The people likely to use cloning are those that cannot reproduce in the first place. Generally these people's genes die with them, taking with them whatever mutation lead to their infertility.

    Now, cloning comes into the mix and allows these people to pass on their genes. The clone has a higher likelihood of being infertile as well (assuming the fertility problem was genetically related).

    This is not neccesarily bad, but it brings with it the spectre of creating a large population of people who cannot reproduce normally - in essence a new species dependent on technology for their reproduction and entirely genetically isolated from the human population as a whole.

  • I can't believe how many times I've heard people refer to babies as a "little Jeffery" (where Jeffery is the father's name) or the same for the mother if it's a girl. Too often, parents buy into that idea and expect their kids to be just like them. They're at best disapointed when this doesn't happen.

    Kids need their own identity.

    Now you think that's bad when they have a mix of genes from both parents... Wait until you have a kid that is essentially a 30-year-younger identical twin of the parent. Ick.
  • You can't stop it. I mean, cloning *sterile* people? How are those clones going to reproduce if their "parents", or should I say "originals", are sterile, hence themselves as well? Unless they start modifying their genes, I don't see an end to it.

    Well, they could clone some fully functional person too I guess, but it raises many serious ethical factors for which I don't see any chances of positive consensus in the forseeable future.

    Fuck, those unfortunate parents could adopt one (ore more) of the millions of orphans the World unfortunately bears, it would do much more good to humanity than starting to play a game for which we don't know all the rules yet.


  • I don't have a link, but I distinctly remember that resolution being passed.

    There has been some whining about human cloning in various documents from UN agencies such as UNESCO, but I think that the UN doesn't really have the power to make anything like this illegal.

    In any case, how is this really different from any other artificial method of producing an embryo using genetic material from sperm banks, donated eggs, etc.? We have many natural clones running around (identical twins) anyway. How will a few artificial ones be materially different?

    Of much greater concern is genetically modified humans. THAT is something very serious - and the time is coming. I recently saw an article describing the first genetically modified primate - a monkey with a special gene that produces a flourescent dye for use in research. Now THAT is scary.

  • I have to admit that I don't quite understand the ethical hysteria that has surrounded the issue of human cloning.

    Saying that you "see no ethical problems" is a different statement than "I don't quite understand". I will see if I can explain a couple of the issues so you will come to a greater understanding.

    It's not as if "cloning" will produce an exact replica of a person, right down to the last sub-atomic particle. All that cloning would do is produce a being that is genetically identical to the being that it was cloned from.

    Of course. I don't think the cloning issues have to do with the behaviors of the clone being the same as the behaviors of the cloned person.

    In fact, if people want to see what a clone would be like, all they have to do is look at the human clones that we have all over the place: identical twins. These are people who, after they were conceived, split into two people. They are genetically identical.

    So there are no issues about the genome being an issue.

    The religious argument here is a non-issue.

    That's a pretty strong statement to say. So you are discounting any issues that might have a basis other than in pure science?

    Let me give you a couple issues that have to do with religion and society:

    The first is one of the big ones. The process of cloning that has taken place so far in animals has been one that kills a lot of animals. Dolly was the only survivor of many sheep. The genetic material was inserted into many eggs, implanted into many sheep uterii, and many sheep started growing. Almost all of them died. The few of them who survived until birth died within the first few days.

    That's the process that has currently been used. Many will say that there is work happening in other areas. All I can say is that that's the route that has worked so far. And no one has been able to reproduce the results that Dr. Wilmut produced.

    So what we face today is the prospect of conceiving hundreds of embryos, only to have them spontaneously abort or die a couple days after birth. There isn't even a guarantee that one child will survive. Is this what we wish to do?

    Since you bring God and the Soul into the picture, I want to specifically point out the life issue here. Many good people disagree on this point, but there are many in this society who believe that life begins at conception. Still others believe that life begins sometime after sustainability in the uterus. Others believe that life begins at birth. In every form of cloing that's been successful, more death happens at every stage of this new life, however you define it, than does successful life. Is this the way that we should bring a new child into the world - on the dead bodies of so many others?

    You would be right in saying that this isn't a scientific issue, but it is a social, political, and religious one. And no less important at that.

    Then I want you to consider the issue of the long-term effects. Dolly was produced with a genetic code that has very shortened telomeres, the ends of the nuclear code that protect it from disintegrating. (Paraphrasing greatly here.) Modern science simply does not yet know what this will do to an organism, sheep or human.

    Should we bring children into the world when we have no idea whether they will even survive? When we don't even know of the rest of their life will be plagued with ailments of which we know nothing? I would think that, even if you disagree with the life issues above, you would agree that scientific prudence insists that we learn a lot more about this before we start applying it to our children.

    In fact, here's an interesting quote:

    "I can think of no ethical reason to apply this technique [that which cloned Dolly] to human beings, if in fact it can be applied,'' concurred Carl Feldbaum, president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, which represents about 700 companies and research centers in the United States and abroad. "The biotechnology industry exists to use genetic information to cure disease and improve agriculture. We opposed human cloning when it was a theory. Now that it may be possible, we urge that it be prohibited by law.''
    Heading into theology:
    It is reasonable to assume that a cloned human would be the theological equivalent of a cat or an emu or other such animal. In other words, they are a living, sentient being, but because their origins are man-made instead of divine, they (by definition) cannot have a soul.

    Why do you think that man-assisted conception would be any less "soulful" than a "natural" conception? With your argument, those children who were born through the process of Artificial Insemination or In Vitro Fertilization have no souls. This is obviously false.

    I hope that the above has brought another viewpoint to light that you might not have considered. There are a lot of issues here to resolve before we plunge headlong into the practical problems of human cloning.


  • Yep, and my family's been through it twice with success both times. There are ways to get a reliable adoption, but it requires not being so picky about gender, age and race.

    Shit happens, but many many many adoptions happen successfully, too.
  • And what, exactly, is the problem with this? Is it that this hypothetical, evil "rich person" has a viable donor in case he needs one? I suppose that this will cause the downfall of Western Civilization as we know. Oh, woe be to us that those who have worked hard and proven their worth have sophisticated medical procedures at their fingertips! Can the downfall of humankind be far behind? Lord, help us!

    Rich-bashing is a hobby that has gone out of style. Certain politicians have tried to revive it in certain recent elections, but those politicians have failed. Wealthy people have become tired of apologizing for being wealthy. In case you were not aware of it, wealthiness is not a crime, nor is it something to be ashamed of. Wealthiness is the result of a life of hard work or innovative thought. Your invented ethical "dilemma" about a wealthy person being able to clone himself to harvest organs is exactly that .. invented.

    This is a fact of life: the wealthy will always have more at their disposal than the poor. That's the way things work. If you are espousing a system where the government forcibly equalizes everybody so that they conform to the lowest common denominator, then you are advocating socialism or, worse yet, communism, in which case you disqualify yourself from any and all civilized discourse. Pay attention to the news. The Berlin Wall has crumbled. These experiments have been miserable, embarassing failures.

    Sorry for the rant, but the anti-wealthy hatred on Slashdot really bothers me.
  • I think the _real_ fear people have is the idea that the clone will have the same memories as the original, pretty much like what happens in "6th Day". This, coupled with the notion that a clone will have the same age as the original.

    For this reason I believe that while opposing fanatics will always exist, most people will end up thinking there is no big deal about it, because their real fear had nothing to do with cloning in first place.
  • "it turns out human cloning is not possible right now. This is close to my area of research."

    You've tried? Unless it's your area of research and you're a principal investigator, I don't know that you can make that statement. It's unscientific.

    "The risks associated from harvesting that many eggs from one human would be high."

    Since the egg is a simple repository for the nucleus, they don't all have to be from one woman.

    "Turns out the success rates go dawn sharply as the genome gets more complex."

    Relatively speaking, the genomes of all higher vertebrates are of the same complexity. Small changes rather than overall shifts in 'complexity' are responsible for what we observe as speciation from the general vertebrate body plan.

    "Finally there is the telomerase issue..."

    This has not been proven to correlate with decreased lifespan in the clones.
  • See John Varley's Steel Beach (and Golden Globe to a lesser extent) where the ability to genetically modify one's self is common place. People routinely switch sexes, attributes and entire body types, and in the context of the stories such changes are morally neutral, no more controversial than trends in fashionable clothing are today.
  • Timothy Leary used to say that one day reproduction would be asexual and that sex would be used for communication only. Of course, he did a lot of acid...
  • So which one do they clone? I can see this starting fights and breaking up mairages. Mabee they'll have two (a his & hers matched set.)
    Or is there someway to artoficialy create genetic crossover from both parents?
  • > That your own genetics, in a sea of six billion other
    > bags of dna, actually have any significance?

    I'm not insensitive to the suffering that orphaned / fostered children have to go through, but looked at through a telescope, this argument works both ways. Your argument is full of logical flaws, basically. If we're all so worthless.. why bother with children? They lose their parents, toss 'em to the wolves. Hell.. why reproduce, period? We're all worthless!

    Of course, that doesn't address the issue that clones are created and orphans are already here, which is a valid debate topic.. but your logical flaws weaken your argument. Those scientists, if they aren't adopting now, probably wouldn't adopt if you forced them to stop cloning. The two issues are exclusive to each other.

    Now, the REAL issue would be whether we have the right to play god..
  • does not count. Good work much of it, but not literary speculative fiction like Alfred Bester, Samuel R. Delany, CT Cherryh, Julian May, and other geniuses of world building, characters, and realistic future speculation are my faves. -perdida

    ummm...first of all I've never heard of "DragonsQuest", whatever that is. Secondly I, and many other people on slashdot, are quite familiar with the authors you cited; I think Alfred Bester was one of the best science fiction authors ever, and I enjoyed C.J. Cherryh's work (by the way, Cyteen wasn't the first time the azi were depicted; Serpent's Reach predates it by about 15 years). Slashdot is one of the few places I've found where intelligent science fiction is appreciated. Do a search on the older stuff link for science fiction, restricting it to book reviews; I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. In addition to Bester's The Stars My Destination, reviews have been posted to A Canticle for Leibowitz (in my opinion the greatest science fiction novel of all time), The Chrysalids, and a lot of other works of literary sci-fi.
  • There is another reader of real science fiction in the house.

    Slashdot doesn't really lack science fiction readers you know...
  • You're right. All the people in the world should only concentrate on one thing. And since all scientists all work for the same organization it should be easy for them to only work on one problem. And absolutely nothing else. In fact, you shouldn't even be posting on slashdot! go help some starving person!

    Amber Yuan 2k A.D
  • I hope they are going to do it with humans, since for some [] species [], parthenogenesis [] is the normal way to reproduce.

    But let's be honest. We always knew it: Sex is best [].

  • ...including an American pair who cannot conceive because the man's testicles were severed in an accident.

    Unnecessary detail, anyone?

  • No, we can't stop science, but let's focus on a science that actually benefits people. We have millions of starving people, countries with great social unrest, and economies so bad that even the hardest working can barely put a roof over their head. Cloning, Mars Dirt, etc. is fine, but let's fix our fsck'd up earth! (Oh crap this goes against general Slashdot opinion I'm now a troll... maybe this will help:) As if all of this isn't bad enough, we can't seem to get rid of this "Windows" virus that keeps plaguing our computers!
  • this article [] in the new issue of Wired.

    Much more thorough than the Yahoo article.

  • The UN? Are we supposed to care what the UN thinks?

    Oh oh! They better watch out! The UN might get mad! They might pass another resolution condemning them! Please, not that! Anything but the dreaded UN resolution!


  • A friend of mine just had her tubes tied. She's 20. Maybe she'll regret it later, but she says if she wants a kid THAT bad, she can always adopt.

    Such wisdom from someone so young.

    This has gone too far, but it's just getting started. How long until changing your phenotype becomes a fashionable, and seasonal thing?

    "My, aren't Mildred's antennae fashion-forward?"
    "Yes. But her husband's goat legs are so retro. Was he born in the 90's or something?"

    Face it. We are slaves three times over:

    1. slaves to our lifestyles(earn/spend social programming)
    2. slaves to our brains(ego/emotion firmware)
    3. slaves to our meat(DNA hard-wired instincts)
    The big problem is, this is the shit that's going to make nuclear power and information technology look sick. And we're playing with it like it's fucking Lego.

    Who is going to take responsibility for the monsters? Nobody. When are we going to collectively grow up? Maybe never. Frankenstein was a self-obsessed ego maniac with no compassion for his creation. He was trying to show how far he could push his knowledge. He wanted to create life so he could become a god.

    Life is not a toy. What is bio-tech?

    We thieves, we liars, we vandals, and poets. Networked agents of Cthulhu Borealis.

  • According to the UN regulation passed a few years ago, human cloning is ILLEGAL on an international scale. I don't have a link, but I distinctly remember that resolution being passed.

    So wehat's with this? Did they repeal the decision? Is it taking place in Yugoslavia? What are they doing?
  • How can you simultaneously say people "just don't matter" and then tell them to "go make a difference in this world by adopting [a human]".

    If humans don't matter in the grand scheme of things, why should they go adopt them?

  • The reference to a sensational hollywood movie typifies the American attitude to everything.

    Yeah, well stereo-typing is not much better than trivializing.
  • If you clone an adult, at least you can be assured that the clone won't have any genetic childhood diseases that randomly might affect your offspring.

    You'd get a lot of comments, saying, "You look just like your dad!"

    In this world, we already have a high degree of acceptance for what *could* be termed genetically defective people. Why would a clone of someone with good genes really be that much of a shocker?

    In the long run, we'll learn a lot about how to create genetically modified human beings without the societally unacceptable "mistakes". Who wouldn't want to give their children better health, longer life, more intelligence, and better looks?
  • Oh, please. The ethical problem there isn't the cloning, it's harvesting a living human being for organs, which is the same whther the harvestee is a clone, a close match chosen by genetic screening from the babies born in a third world city, or a guy mugged on the street.
  • The lengths people will go to to avoid facing up to the reality that they just don't matter! It's obscene. You are totally unimportant. Here, have a Chinese baby; it makes a great way to vent out all your feelings of usefulness.

    Granted, it's a pretty good idea, but I'm not altogether sure that it would make the world a better place
  • Oh, HOORAY! There is another reader of real science fiction in the house.

    CJ Cherryh also considers that when you are manufacturing a population, wholesale, why not go whole-hog and mold psychologies towards obedient, specialized individuals?

    Julian May, who wrote the Galactic Milieu and Pliocene Exile trilogies, also explores the issue with the idea of "nonborns" which are people cloned for reasons similar to those in the Merchanter world, those being war and space colonization.


  • by ChaosDiscord ( 4913 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @07:44AM (#478442) Homepage Journal
    I remember when Slashdot was like 'the well', a polite, well moderated haven in amongst the internet junk and filth.

    Ah, yes. The good old days of Slashdot. Back then articles were carefully researched, double posts never occurred, and CmdrTaco carefully spell-checked everything. The site never crashed, it was solid as a rock. It was a rock. Mind you, we had to work for our articles. Back then, we didn't have this new fangled atch-tea-em-elle and atch-tea-tea-pea. We had raw text and gopher, and we liked it. To get the comments we had to carry a heavy bucket to CmdrTaco's apartment and carry the bits back ourselves. And it was uphill. Both ways.

  • by cje ( 33931 ) on Friday January 26, 2001 @07:14PM (#478443) Homepage
    I have to admit that I don't quite understand the ethical hysteria that has surrounded the issue of human cloning. It's not as if "cloning" will produce an exact replica of a person, right down to the last sub-atomic particle. All that cloning would do is produce a being that is genetically identical to the being that it was cloned from. Depending on the experiences that the clone has, it will differ from the being that it was cloned from. People don't claim that identical twins are the "same person", even though they may be visually indistinguishable.

    The religious argument here is a non-issue. Scientists may be able to do genetic cloning, but the most important part of human beings is the soul, and the soul is divinely created (that is, it is separate from genetics.) A human clone would be genetically identical to the cloned subject, but it would presumably be soulless. In this respect it would almost be interesting to see what the results would be. The results of this experiment would be useful theological information.

    It is reasonable to assume that a cloned human would be the theological equivalent of a cat or an emu or other such animal. In other words, they are a living, sentient being, but because their origins are man-made instead of divine, they (by definition) cannot have a soul. So what would they say? What would they do? Would they be capable of moral or ethical behavior, or would they operate on pure instinct as the animal kingdom does? These are important questions, and quite frankly, I'm willing to set aside any ethical considerations in order to see them answered.
  • by jonfromspace ( 179394 ) <jonwilkins&gmail,com> on Friday January 26, 2001 @05:51PM (#478444)
    Now we can have two CmdrTaco's and TWICE the spelling mistakes/re-posts!
  • by Pheersum ( 243554 ) on Friday January 26, 2001 @06:18PM (#478445) Homepage
    There is a reason for this drive to pass on one's genes. It's called instinct. All living things exist at the most basic level to pass on their genes to the next generation. The definition of evolutionary success is just that. If the urge to pass on your genes did not exist, species would go extinct.

    Ashes of Empires and bodies of kings,
  • The reference to a sensational hollywood movie typifies the American attitude to everything. Trivialsation. Human cloning is an extremely serious ethical issue, one which readers of Slashdot probably have some intelligent opinions. Howver the reference to 'alien ressurection' simply reduces the debate to a flippant and shallow level.

    I remember when Slashdot was like 'the well', a polite, well moderated haven in amongst the internet junk and filth. Nowadays its all a bit USAToday... Which is a shame.

  • by Chuck Flynn ( 265247 ) on Friday January 26, 2001 @05:49PM (#478447)
    Millions of children are waiting out there to be adopted, and yet we're spending fortunes on perfecting techniques of dubious ethical pedigree? Why? Because we're still hung up on the idea that your "bloodline" has any value? That your own genetics, in a sea of six billion other bags of dna, actually have any significance? The lengths people will go to to avoid facing up to the reality that they just don't matter! It's obscene.

    For crying out loud, you're going to be dead in fifty years. Do something now to make a difference in this world by adopting and caring for an exisitng human being.
  • by drDugan ( 219551 ) on Friday January 26, 2001 @07:06PM (#478448) Homepage
    it turns out human cloning is not possible right now. This is close to my area of research.

    What people really mean about 'cloning' is the creation of new organisms that are identical genetically to adults (genetic material from fully differentiated cells). People naturally make clones earlier (twins) and artificially (fertility treatments). The real breakthrough with dolly & such was the ability to take an organism that has developed -- and hence we can observe the phenotype and turn its genotype to a new organism.

    ok so along these lines: the initial dolly experiment can about from _hundreds_ of attempts. All the failures either never developed or aborted prematurely. The risks associated from harvesting that many eggs from one human would be high.

    Additionally, no one has come close to performing fully differentiated genotype transfer in any higher organism close to man. A science article about a year ago had a good review of what had been tried. Turns out the success rates go dawn sharply as the genome gets more complex.

    Finally there is the telomerase issue. We know aging occurs in high correlation with the shortening of end caps on the chromosomes called "telomerases" These shortened telomerases are already present in fully differentiated cells and it was measured in sheep that the cloned animals too have shorter telomerases. The result: there is strong suspicion that cloned animals may have shorter lifespan. Sequential cloning might be disastrous.

I've got a bad feeling about this.