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What is Cloning?
Cloning is an umbrella term to describe different processes for duplicating biological material.
When the media report on cloning in the news, they are usually talking about only one type called "reproductive cloning". There are different types of cloning however, and cloning technologies can be used for other purposes besides producing the genetic twin of another organism.
A basic understanding of the different types of cloning is key to taking an informed stance on current public policy issues and making the best possible personal decisions.
Reproductive cloning is a technology used to generate an animal that has the same nuclear DNA as another currently or previously existing animal. Dolly was created by reproductive cloning technology.
Farmers and ranchers are cloning animals for the same reason they selectively breed them, to reproduce better livestock. This type of cloning is an assisted reproductive technology that allows livestock breeders and others to create identical twins of their best animals. This breeding technique does not change the genetic make-up of the animal.
Should humans be cloned? Physicians from the American Medical Association and scientists with the American Association for the Advancement of Science have issued formal public statements advising against human reproductive cloning. With so many unknowns concerning reproductive cloning, the attempt to clone humans at this time is considered potentially dangerous and ethically irresponsible. - ORNL
Ethical Concerns of Cloning
The announcement of Dolly sparked widespread speculation about a human child being created using somatic cell nuclear transfer. Much of the perceived fear that greeted this announcement, centered on the misperception that a child or many children could be produced who would be identical to an already existing person. This fear is based on the idea of "genetic determinism" -- that genes alone determine all aspects of an individual -- and reflects the belief that a person's genes bear a simple relationship to the physical and psychological traits that compose that individual. Although genes play an essential role in the formation of physical and behavioral characteristics, each individual is, in fact, the result of a complex interaction between his or her genes and the environment within which he or she develops.
Cloning to Save Endangered Species
Some people see cloning as a way to remedy the problem of endangered species, and to reproduce those that have already disappeared.