Artificial Cloning


Ron Unz
Reason Online
Friday, October 26, 2001

The general debate: http://www.reason.com/bioresearch/bioresearch.html

First, we should realize that a "clone" is simply the scientific name for an identical twin, which has been a rare though perfectly natural part of humanity since long before civilization began. I am not aware of any nation in history that has ever denied such twins their equal rights under the law. Therefore, I assume that the authors of the statement are actually condemning "artificial cloning" while remaining completely in favor of the "natural cloning" that has already produced many millions of fellow Americans.

As for application of artificial cloning to people, I have very mixed feelings about its huge potential implications for our society, which are certainly at least as enormous as was the development of nuclear technology in the 1930s and 1940s. Like nuclear technology, artificial cloning might simultaneously produce enormous benefits and enormous dangers for humanity. Like nuclear technology, the eventual implications, both moral and practical, are difficult to fully comprehend at this early stage.

But even if the eventual consequences of artificial cloning were overwhelmingly negative, I very much doubt that legislative attempts to ban such research within the United States will prevent or much delay its advancement elsewhere in the world. Just as German ideological doubts about the nature of nuclear physics and the Jewish background of many of its leading practitioners drove those individuals to America, American prohibitions against artificial cloning would likely cause leading researchers and laboratories merely to relocate to Europe, China, or wherever else in the world restrictions were fewer. I suspect that many countries around the world would be only too eager to lure away many of our foremost experts on artificial cloning.

An outright ban on artificial cloning in America will lead it to develop overseas subject to no American regulation. On the other hand, a congressional proposal to properly regulate but not ban artificial cloning might have greater impact, since leading researchers and laboratories would probably prefer to remain in America and operate subject to such regulation.

I seriously doubt the wisdom of completely banning American development of artificial cloning and thereby ensuring that Europe or China become the world leaders in that enormously important and powerful future technology.

Ron Unz, a theoretical physicist by training, is founder and chairman of Wall Street Analytics Inc. and English for the Children.