When people who don’t understand the process of cloning think of it, they imagine a mad scientist slowly creating an army of like-minded, almost robotic clones that think, act, and behave in the same way. Cloning is actually a much gentler and safer procedure than the imagined scenario. To simplify it, cloning just takes a cell from the donor and an egg from the user and combines it together. As a result, these cells multiply as they would normally, except this is more like asexual reproduction. The resulting offspring has the same genetic makeup of the donor, but they don’t necessarily have to look like them. Here are 10 other things you may not have known about cloning.
Cloning is a Copy Machine
As mentioned before, cloning doesn’t guarantee a carbon copy of either the egg provider or the donor. The genetic makeup is the same, but the phenotype, or observable physical traits, are not. So, the donor may have been very muscular and strong, but the same can’t be expected from the offspring. Other details, like hair and eye color, are likely to match, but it’s still far from cloning.
Clones are Lesser Humans
Although there has been no known case of human cloning as of yet, people speculate that if that were to become a reality, these humans would be treated with less respect because that’s what they deserve. This kind of argument has no legal or ethical basis, as it’s just a repeat of the prejudice humans have witnessed and partaken in in the past. Looking at it from an animal’s perspective, cloned animals display no defect or reason for them to be considered lesser than their biologically produced counterparts. Human clones would be no different.
Clones Reduce Genetic Diversity
Those against cloning claim that cloning reduces genetic diversity for the human race. If you take a look at the actual possibility of cloned humans becoming a majority, it’s easy to understand how this isn’t a feasible scenario. The number of in-vitro births in the US was a little over 61,000 in 2018. That means that 1-2% of babies are born from untraditional methods. These types of “cloning” treatments for couples struggling with getting pregnant don’t reduce their genetic diversity for their offspring, nor does this really affect the population as a whole.
Clones are Just Spare Organs
Cloned animals function and behave just as well as biologically produced animals do. The only difference is what it took to reach their conception. To think that clones are going to be used solely for their organs is farfetched. If someone needed an organ, they could use therapeutic cloning, which produces nearly the same tissue as the recipient and reduces the chances of rejection. There have already been breakthroughs in using therapeutic cloning to generate stem cells, so why would scientists rely on regular clones?
Cloning is Genetic Engineering
Cloning and genetic engineering are two different processes. Cloning relies on asexual reproduction to create offspring. On the other hand, genetic engineering is changing the genes and traits for optimization. Cloning is basically a take-it-or-leave-it method for reproduction, while genetic engineering changes the actual makeup.
Clones are Made by Mad Scientists
This is another stereotype brought on by a misunderstanding of the uses of cloning. Cloning is used to either reduce the chances of a congenital disability or help couples achieve their own biological child. The scientists behind cloning aren’t looking to create legions of clones; they’re just trying to help people. For that, it’s hardly fair to call them mad scientists.
Cloning is Selfish
People think that others are going to use cloning for selfish reasons, like recreating a lost loved one. However, the very sources that allow you to clone won’t accept that as a reason to supply their services. People who use cloning practices are those who are deemed medically infertile, so it’s selfish in a small sense. Adoption is still a great option for these couples, but some prefer a genetic connection, which cloning and in-vitro treatments provide.
Clones are Magical
Another misconception people have about cloning is that there’s an element of magic in them. They believe that clones are exactly like the originals down to the age of the original. If James was 32-years old when he was cloned, his clone is going to be 32-years old as well. Again, clones look similar to the original, but they’re not free from other biological constraints and processes. They’re going to get sick, age, and even die like biologically produced humans are.
Clones have Early Deaths
This misconception is something that was even supported by the scientific community. It was thought that the life span of the cloned cells would be shorter than that of the original. This was due to the original cells already having lived and recreated other cells. With the transfer of this genetic makeup to the clone, the clone should live for a shorter time than the original. However, after several successful cloning processes of animals who’ve lived longer than their originals, this statement is no longer supported.
Cloning is Against Nature
Lastly, people believe that cloning goes against nature. People think that scientists are trying to play the god card with each new clone. However, cloning occurs in nature as well. Bacteria and trees create their own clones naturally, and no one can deny that twins are essentially clones of each other. These naturally occurring cloning instances prove that cloning isn’t a man-made process. This science was actually found in and inspired by nature, only to be tweaked a little by man.