Health

Scientist Warns Of Black Market For Human Cloning

| by Michael Allen
Cloned MiceCloned Mice

Most countries do not allow human cloning, but a British scientist is warning there could eventually be a black market.

Currently, the U.K.'s Human Fertilization and Embryology Act 2008 permits scientists to study the effects of therapeutic cloning.

Dr. Charles Foster of the University of Oxford recently told the Express, "I expect that there will be a black market [around therapeutic cloning]."

"The appropriate caution of the regulators when faced with potentially new uses of therapeutic cloning is likely to be seen by desperate patients and relatives as inappropriately restrictive," Foster added.

In other words, some patients and relatives may become so desperate for therapeutic cloning that they will turn to the black market.

In theory, a human being could someday have cells taken out of his or her body to create a clone, and then the clone's organs would be harvested to help cure the disease of the original human.

"If therapeutic cloning were used to produce individuals from whom organs or tissues could be harvested, there would be concerns about instrumentalization: the person would not have been created because she was wanted for herself, but because a particular type of tissue or organ was wanted," Foster stated.

"We simply don’t know what that would do to the psyche of the cloned person, or to the network of relationships that would be produced by her birth."

Foster predicted that this "would produce a whole new set of relationships between humans."

He says he doubts "that human reproductive cloning will ever be common."

"There is an almost universal visceral distaste for reproductive cloning. Although that might diminish, I doubt it will disappear," Foster added.

When it comes to animals, Foster said: “I think -- and fear -- that [cloning of animals could become more common than natural reproduction]."

He noted, “The commercial pressures to produce carefully engineered meat are strong. Cloned meat could therefore become cheaper than normally produced meat, and I’m not convinced that consumers will be prepared to pay the price difference for meat produced by natural reproduction."

BBC News reported in 2013 that scientists in the U.S. were cloning human embryos to create a new source of stem cells.

The stem cells could in theory make new organs, tissue and bone for an existing human body that has, for example, suffered a heart attack or a severed spinal cord.

The big advantage to cloning stem cells from one's body is that there would be no risk of rejection of a replacement organ.

Sources: Express, BBC News / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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