RE: human cloning [Serious Response]

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From: Antoun Nabhan (
Date: Thu Sep 28 2000 - 17:53:08 PDT

At 06:06 PM 9/27/00 -0700, Jim Whitehead wrote:

> > Anybody here *actually* think cloning (not for use as parts, just as an
> > alternative reproductive mechanism) is a bad idea?
>Well, with so many people on this planet unable to real their full potential
>due to lack of access to resources, it seems like a bad idea to start
>blowing $100-$200k per cloned baby. These resources seem like they would be
>better spent on, say, educating the people already alive.

Something occurs to me, which is that this may be a more efficient and
compassionate way of having multiple children when the parents both carry a
particularly dangerous, but foetally non-fatal, dominant gene. (e.g.,
Huntington's chorea, which typically doesn't manifest until well into your
adult years, if memory serves.) Then odds are 75/25 against the baby being
healthy. If you have one healthy foetus, luck was on your side - but you
don't know you'll be so lucky with your second child. So, if you still want
a second/third/fourth child, cloning might make sense.

As for reproducing clones for spare parts as so many science fiction
authors have predicted, it seems awfully inefficient, like ordering a whole
cow when you only wanted a steak. There's a lot of biomass that you're not
likely to need replaced. Easier to just grow what you need on an
organ-by-organ basis. See, e.g., Anastasia Toufexis, "Science: An Early
Tale: A Bizarre Creature Shows A New Way To Replace Organs", Time,
11/06/1995, p. 60. The semi-famous picture is available at
<> Of course those
are from early cloning experiments that generated their own ethics-based
backlash because of the use of foetal stem cells, but there's evidence you
can get the same results without killing embryos, or anything else:

If you do need a whole body full of spare parts at once, it's because so
much of your body is deteriorated/traumatized/diseased that nothing is
really salvageable, except your brain. Your brain is so dependent
on/integrated with your other organs that this doesn't seem likely. Now, if
your brain could be downloaded...

Dammit, who stole my brain?! I left the Zip disk right here on my desk, and
it seems to have walked away!

Antoun Nabhan * You may come out of each grueling bout
Berkman Center for * all broken and beaten and scarred.
     Internet & Society * Just have one more try. It's dead easy to
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