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[Opinion] Human Cloning

Posted December. 27, 2002 22:33,   


More twins are born today than before. According a recent survey conducted by a general hospital, the rate of twin birth has doubled compared to 10 years ago. There might be more than a single factor, but doctors agree that the ovulation stimulator, a drug used to boost the chances of success for a test-tube baby has greatly contributed to the increase. The drug helps produce a number of eggs, effectively raising the chance of having twins. Apart from the fact that they end up having one more baby than they expected, the fact that they have babies is a blessing for infertile couples. Some 2,000 test tube babies are born every year in this country, out of about 5,000 trials.

▷Although the operation is now widely adopted across the world, there was controversy on the issue when it was first introduced 20 years ago. Likewise, advocates of human cloning argue, the law that bans human cloning will soon be abolished. From bioethics’ perspective, people first vehemently opposed having test tube babies, but now there are about 250,000 born in this way. Then, will the world allow cloning of human beings eventually? Not likely. Cloned humans are different from test tube babies. While the latter is created through the due process of conception – sperm, eggs and fertilization, the former skips the process. A replica of a parent can be born after cultivating the parent’s stem cell such as blood. Can we call this baby a child?

▷Biotechnology is developing at an astounding speed. It has been only six years since the world’ first cloned animal Dolly the sheep was born in a laboratory in Britain in 1996. Since then, scientists have successfully cloned mice, cows, goats, pigs and cats, and it seemed to be just a matter of time to clone human beings. The problem, however, is that the chances of success is very low with humans. Throughout the trials, scientists could create abnormalities like a monster appearing in Shelly’s science fiction story `Frankenstein.` It’s scary.

▷Unfortunately or fortunately to some, the world is about to enter a new era when people could live with their clones. Despite government-led effort to ban cloning across the world, we are now seeing the first cloning of a human being as some scientists advocating cloning predicted. It is a girl, said the French-born female researcher at Clonaid, a company run by members of `Raelian Movement.` The group believe that extraterrestrials came to the earth in spaceship and created mankind some 25,000 years ago. It is like telling that a new religious sect will emerge in line with an age of human cloning. The thought of the first cloned human, however, makes us shiver.

Park Young-gyu, Editorial Writer, parkyk@donga.com