Date: April 1st, 2003
Many of you have probably heard much of the dialogue in the cloning controversy. Between the opinion articles in your local paper and the national news that a religious sect claimed to have successfully cloned a human, cloning technology is often in the news.
Unfortunately, much of this sort of news draws attention to reproductive cloning, which is widely and sensibly opposed, and thus fuels public uncertainty over the use of a science that holds great promise for curing deadly diseases.
Groups and individuals such as the Raelians' that make such sensational announcements turn the spotlight on themselves at the expense of very real and potentially life-saving research. The moral and ethical controversy surrounding reproductive cloning skews public perception toward the idea that cloning is about creating people. The dubious nature of the claim creates a kind of science-fiction mystique around a technology that is already being used safely and responsibly. In the meantime, additional valuable research is being delayed by continued debate and threats to ban it altogether. Ethical concerns about therapeutic cloning stem from fears that humans are being created, or that allowing therapeutic research will eventually lead in this direction. These fears are unfounded.
It is important to understand that cloning technology is a significant source of hope for a number of diseases, including multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and even some types of cancer. By using cloning technology, researchers have been able to grow new, healthy cells to replace diseased ones. When they use a patient's own DNA to create these new cells, doctors can provide treatment that the patient's body does not reject.