Five Myths About Human Cloning!

What thumps your mind when you hear the five-letter-word ’clone’? Let me guess. Twenty-thirty copies of yourself smiling at you, once you get out of some spooky high-tech conveyer belt, which alleges to be at the acme of world class products, guaranteed to create “clones”!? Or even better, thousands of miniature versions, “produced” in assembly line mode, of that one man who scared the ghost out of the most majestic economy in the world and became a sensation overnight. None other than Osama Bin Laden, or rather Osama Bin Laden’s, with eerie beards and terrifying eyes,  scudding across the face of the earth, sprinkling gun powders as if planting saplings and ramming airplanes into skyscrapers.

Let’s be real! There is a thick line of distinction between fiction and fact. We need to cease the stereotyping in our minds propagated by the Hollywood Sci-Fi movies or closer home “God” Rajnikanth’s Robot.

The Myths:

1.       Cloning “Copy/Pastes” humans

a.       Cloning doesn’t Xerox humans

Cloning merely re-creates the genotype, not the phenotype. It can’t replicate memories or experiences The common belief is too simplistic, and stems from the much propagated mental schema that a person’s personality is exclusively gene-determined. Ages of Research evidence the fact that half of our knowledge while comes from our genes, the other half of who we are is determined by our environment. Cloning can’t clone the environment, conditioning, perception and our experiences.

  b. Cloning can’t be a pathway to immortality, to bring back the dead & create strains of  dictators

For cloning doesn’t replicate memories and environment, the idea that cloning would allow a person to live evermore is erroneous. By corollary, in effect this also means that no matter what Hollywood has to say, Hitler is not coming back. A long legacy in science fiction novels and movies by writers and directors determined to beat into our heads that armies of Hitler or Saddam Hussein will soon be a reality, makes it so laden with bad connotations that it can hardly be used in any discussion that purports to be impartial.

2.Cloned babies can be grown in artificial wombs.

No, sir! There is no magical 15 minutes in some radiation tank and POOF; you have a full-grown copy of the original. Fifty years of medical research couldn’t come close to success in creating an artificial womb. If they could create one, they could save premature babies. Unfortunately, they can’t. Fact stays that there is no surrogate of mother’s womb.

3. Human cloning reduces biological diversity.

Population genetics say otherwise, as cloning requires the expensive and inefficient in vitro fertilization. Following the Law of Regression to the Mean, creation of a superior race by cloning would fail, because the cloned being would have children with non-cloned people, and the resulting genetic hybrids would be normalized.

4.Cloned humans could be used for spare organs for normal human beings.

Sorry! Every human has rights. And a cloned human would be just like any other and would share the same rights as you or I.

5.Clones =  Sub human creatures

Be it in vitro fertilization, mixed race parents, surrogate motherhood or sperm donation, any deviation from normal parenthood has faced this fear of a lesser ‘en-souled’ creatures’ birth. But as it has been proven that the origins of a human is not determinate to her/his personhood. Thus, having gestated for nine months in a woman’s womb, a cloned human would feel, talk, speak and be like any other.

Due credits to the media, that today to most people, cloning is inherently evil, supported only by crazy scientists and selfish parents, for it leads to ‘commodification’ of children and a possible creation of batches of humans sharing secret empathy or communication. Such postulations are linked to horrendous sci-fi portrayal where the humane society has been smashed and where mechanized machines have taken over human reproduction. Rightly says Prof. Gregory E Pence, School of Medicine, University of Alabama, it’s better to call cloning – ‘somatic cell nuclear transplantation’ even though it’s a scientific tongue twister. A person created by cloning is not a “clone”, He or She is a person!

Oh well then, can cloning be a firearm bought into play? Look, one can employ a knife to hatchet appetizing kiwis and apples and make a lip smacking food salad or one can suicide with the same knife. Cloning too is subject to use and abuse. But that doesn’t mean we stop researching and give up the idea. That only means that we need to be cautious and lay down strict guidelines for such research. Any technology can just be postponed, it can’t be banned. And anyway, Cloning is a gift to the infertile for whom current options are excruciating, expensive, and tear-jerking with a success rate of merely 20%  and a hope of cure for debilitating diseases like cancer, HIV, Alzheimer’s. Thus, the moral weight of the maimed and infirm will undeniably shout down the arguments of the healthy, who have never been aggravated by suffering to look hysterically for a cure.

Divyanshi Chugh