The ethics of mammalian cloning
March 24, 1997: Although there are possibilities for the abuse of mammalian cloning techniques, this is no reason to condemn future development in the field. With every new advancement in science, both positive and negative applications emerge. The splitting of the atom gave us a powerful tool for the production of energy without huge costs to the environment. Yet it also led to the atomic bomb. Few, however, would ban all nuclear technologies because of their potential for destructive use.
By analogy, genetic cloning of adult cells has the potential to benefit humanity in various ways, for example, by aiding the search for the cause and cure of genetic diseases. But the technology can also be used for reasons that are purely superficial, or selfish. If we try to use cloning technology to control nature without fully understanding the consequences of our actions, then abuse of the technology begins.
I believe that research on the cloning of adult mammalian cells should be supported. I also believe, however, that we should be watchful for medical researchers who lose sight of the larger picture and fail to ask themselves about the social implications of their work and why they are doing it.