Dr. John Fletcher of the University of Virginia answers your questions on the ethics of cloning.
Dr. Neal First
of the University of Wisconsin answers your scientific process questions.
February 24, 1997:
report on the cloning of sheep in Scotland.
February 24, 1997:
discussion on the science of genetic engineering.
February 24, 1997:
on the ethics of genetic engineering and cloning mammals.
April 3, 1996:
Fred De Sam Lazaro reports on
scientific advances in genetic research and the ethical questions they
The American Association for the Advancement of
Science news brief
on the Scottish cloning experiment.
Genetics and Public Issues Program at The National Center for Genome
Resources (NCGR) discusses cloning.
Discussion of Ethics
and Social Issues in Gene Research at the Human Genome Project.
Browse the University
of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics home page.
|Dolly looks like the thousands of other sheep
in Scotland, which is why she has drawn international attention.
is the first animal to be "cloned" from an average cell of an
adult mammal, in this case a cell taken from a sheep's udder. In other
words, Dolly's DNA, the genetic blueprint that directed her development,
is an exact copy of the donor animal's DNA; genetically she is no different
from the animal she was cloned from. And there's more. Using an electrical
charge, the Scottish scientists created the embryo that became Dolly by
fusing a normal, adult cell and an unfertilized egg with no nucleus --
a far cry from the usual way an embryo is created by the joining of egg
The announcement of Dolly's existence has shocked many of the world's
leading geneticists and embryologists; many experts had declared the cloning
of mammals to be impossible. Now, geneticists and bioethicists are exploring
what Dolly means to the future of genetics and society.
Animals have been bred for centuries, of course, to produce more
meat, wool or milk, but this has been an imprecise mixing of a mother's
and father's traits.
Now the potential exists to create hundreds, if not thousands, of genetically-identical
animals that can be created in the lab.
But while Dolly represents a coup for scientists, her existence troubles
many. Will super-animals created in the lab to meet human goals push aside
animals in the wild, thus destroying the genetic diversity needed for a
healthy environment? Others wonder if humans have the right to intrude
into an area once governed by the rules of nature. Resonding to these concerns,
President Clinton announced a ban on the use of federal funds for human
cloning research and asked private research centers to refrain from attempting
to clone humans.
And the possibility that humans could be cloned came even more likely
with the recent announcement by scientists at the Oregon
Regional Primate Research Center that they had produced two monkeys
in a similar fashion to how Dolly was produced. The monkeys are not genetically
identical, but researchers say the technique could be used to produce up
to eight genetically-identical monkeys. Biologists greeted the announcement
with interest because monkeys are a close cousin to humans, and Dr. Ian
Wilmut first cloned sheep from embryos before producing a clone from an
Our forum asks: Will cloning techniques be used only for positive,
scientific advancement? Is it likely humans will not be "cloned"
as the Scottish scientists are promising? Do we really understand the many
ethical and psychological ramifications that come with cloning?
Your ethical questions
have been answered by Dr. John Fletcher, a University
of Virginia Bioethicist. Scientific process questions have been answered by Dr. Neal First, of the University of Wisconsin's Department of Meat and Animal Science.