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However, while cloning non-human animals doesn't seem to bother most people, human cloning is somewhat troubling. A group of Chinese scientists recently announced that they had attempted to clone human embryos, causing a major outcry in the scientific community. The Chinese team had not been attempting to create living humans, and were instead using defective embryos and attempting to create a specifically altered gene in every cell of the embryo. The experiment was a failure; all of the embryos either died or did not successfully reproduce the gene without other issues occurring. There have been many other attempts at cloning human cells, some successful and others not. Nothing beyond the cellular phase has yet been attempted, but the possibility of cloning replacement organs, or eliminating genetic diseases through cloned IVF, are tantalizing to say the least. Lets look at the best reasons we should allow research into human cloning to continue.
- Elimination of genetic diseases. Cloned healthy human cells or genetically modified embryos could help heal and eventually end many crippling genetic diseases, including Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.
- Organ/tissue transplants. Many people are on a waiting list for an organ, and thousands will die waiting for a match. However, if we could clone a healthy organ from the person's own cells, the mortality rate from organ failure and many cancers would be greatly reduced. The benefits do not have to be life-saving. Cloned ligaments, tendons, bones, skin, and muscles could help people with all ranges of injury. A new spinal cord would end paralysis, a new brain could save people with traumatic head injuries, new eyes for the blind, the possibilities are endless.
- Immortality. The reason people age is imperfections in the reproduction of cells. This is an area that cloning research would be valuable. The chance to slow or even stop the ageing process is both terrifying and exciting.
- Infertility. With birth rates dropping in many developed countries and current infertility treatments still relatively ineffective, cloning would allow childless couples to have children with a blend of their own DNA, just like a real child.
- Cosmetic surgery. Think what you will of people who desire plastic surgery, there is a large market for the service. Cloning real human tissues (ie larger breasts) would be much safer than current silicone methods.
We are nowhere close to many of the above benefits of cloning. Cloning is a difficult process, and we are still learning exactly how to manipulate genes. However, this is all the more reason to allow research to take place. Many countries have bans on human cloning research, deeming it morally unacceptable. However, with proper legal regulations (no living sentient humans can be created, no living person's DNA can be used without their express permission, no hybrid creatures can be created, etc.) there is no moral/ethical reason to ban research into human cloning.
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