There are two main areas of ethical concern about mammal cloning:
Commodification of animals: treating them as commodities for human use.
Cloning animals is only a step towards cloning humans.
There are two ways in which human cloning can be regarded:
Reproductive cloning – as in the production of Dolly, this would involve transfer of an adult nucleus with the intention of producing a child. This is illegal in the UK.
Therapeutic cloning – this would involve creation of an embryo by cloning to use the totipotent stem cells in research into treatments for disability and disease. This is legal, and in 2005 Professor Ian Wilmut, the scientist who created Dolly was granted permission to start work into the search for a cure for motor neurone disease (MND). However, in 2007 scientists in both Japan and the US made breakthroughs in creating totipotent stem cells from skin.
Most people have instinctively rejected reproductive cloning. There are serious ethical issues with it, which include:
Disregarding the special nature of embryos as potential humans;
Commodification of humans;
Production of designer babies – producing ‘desirable’ characteristics, which devalue others;
Uncertainty about the future physical and mental health of anyone produced by cloning;
Interference in the natural process of human procreation, which produces an infinite genetic mix.
Therapeutic cloning has opened up quite a debate, many scientists believe that the latest developments in creating stem cells from skin rather than embryonic tissue are a welcome way forward.
What are the ethical arguments for and against using early embryos in research? (see embryo research link above)
Why might a cloned human suffer psychologically, after all identical twins don’t usually have a problem?
Many religious people believe that humans are made in the image of God. Would this be any different for a cloned person?