Numerous science fiction movies have examined the idea of cloning humans. Some of them take an approach that suggests it’s a way to save the world, like in The Fifth Element, when Leeloo is a clone of what must be combined with four other elements to save the world. In The Island, two clones escape from a research facility after learning that their fate is to be surrogates and organ suppliers.
Even a campy comedy like Twins shows us that there are dangers to consider when cloning humans. You might be able to take cells from a guy like Arnold Schwarzenegger, but scientists might end up with a result closer to Danny DeVito.
The advantages and disadvantages of cloning humans often look at the concept from a spiritual or ethical standpoint. We must also examine the scientific risks that occur when undertaking this procedure. It is also notable to point out that several countries have formally banned this practice, and many more have passed laws that prohibit human reproductive cloning.
List of the Advantages of Cloning Humans
1. Cloning humans could help us find new ways to recover from trauma.
Interventional orthopedics is a non-surgical possibility that uses a patient’s cells to help fix an injury that occurs during a traumatic event. Strains or sprains to ligaments typically heal in 6 weeks or less with rest. When a tear happens then the primary treatment option is to apply a tissue graft – especially with ACL injuries. Doctors place the new ligament at a steeper angle to support the healing process.
The current method increases a patient’s risk of cartilage damage and osteoarthritis later in life. Through the practices of human cloning, the cells could begin to repair themselves. This science imagines an opportunity for a speedier recovery because doctors can duplicate the exact cells that the body requires.
2. It could help couples resolve problems with fertility.
Couples who are unable to conceive naturally could create children through human cloning to have an authentic genetic relative. Infertility could become a problem of the past because physicians could take the hereditary portrait of each parent, introduce it into an embryo outside of the body, and conceivably grow the fetus in a laboratory setting.
This method could help countries like Japan who are struggling with low birth rates. The Japanese culture could see a reduction of up to 40 million people by the year 2060 without the introduction of cloning measures.
3. Cloning humans could lead to new advances in medical science.
The human cloning process could help to generate new advances in medical science. The possibility of sharing genetic material could help to prevent or cure diseases that may harm that person’s life by creating a duplicated individual. It could also create a new line of research that is equal to what we see now with embryonic stem cell therapies.
4. Cloning humans would allow us to explore the potential benefits of modifying genes.
Nazi Germany took the approach of euthanasia and forced sterilization as a way to improve their genetic profile. Scientists could look at gene modification without causing harm to others because of the science of cloning.
Human cloning requires a precise form of genetic engineering. Using our current technologies, we would implement enzymes from bacteria to locate genes within our DNA to create the necessary modifications for duplication. This technology has been in place since 2015, which means it is not something from which we are entirely unfamiliar.
5. Cloning humans could reduce the impact of diseases in ways that vaccinations cannot.
Human cloning could help us to begin curing genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis or thalassemia. Genetic modification could also help us deal with complicated maladies such as heart disease or schizophrenia. This scientific process could help us to discover new ways to combat the natural aging process, including possible opportunities to stop it.
Babies would no longer need to go through a genetic lottery before birth to know what their human potentiality would be during their lifetime. Human cloning could even begin to reduce the overall cost of disease treatments around the world.
6. Cloning humans could help us correct today’s conditions for tomorrow’s generation.
Human cloning processes would help the medical community discover and correct the reasons for many of today’s physical and mental conditions. About 1 in 10 children in the United States and Europe currently take a medication like Adderall to help with attention-deficit disorders. Their poor self-control decisions can lead to educational deficits that can impact them throughout their lives. It creates a natural inequality that can set their children back because they are not in the same socioeconomic groups as “normal” people.
7. Cloning humans would help us to eliminate defective chromosomes and genetic profiles.
If a person has an extra chromosome or one is missing, then that condition is called “aneuploidy.” There is an increased risk of a genetic disorder when women have children later in life. Several different conditions can result from this outcome, such as Patau and Edwards syndrome, where there is an extra chromosome on the 13 or 18. Most children born with Trisomy 13 or 18 die within the first year of life, and severe congenital disabilities may result in a stillbirth.
Human cloning would provide us with technologies that could prevent these outcomes from occurring. It could also help when something like Turner syndrome appears, which happens when a damaged or missing X chromosome affects girls.
8. Cloning humans would allow us to create stem cells ethically.
Many of today’s stem cell lines were created over 20 years ago for research purposes. Although there is no degradation in the quality of the work, more scientists could look for breakthroughs if there were more strands available. Human cloning would allow us to replicate the existing cells into multiple lines without the need to impact the potentiality of life. Cloning is a way to create genetically identical cells that could help to create better health outcomes for people, especially if they suffer from a rare genetic disease.
9. Cloning humans could make people more resilient to disease.
Human cloning processes could help to replicate a natural resistance to illnesses, ailments, and conditions when discovered in the general population. There have been a select group of people who have a natural resistance to specific diseases for as long as diseases have impacted humanity. When the CCR5 gene mutates, it creates a natural resistance to HIV.
Researchers have found a group of women in West Africa had a natural immunity to the Ebola virus despite repetitive exposures to it. Cloning humans allows us to take advantage of these natural immunities to create a new level of resiliency against the diseases that affect us each year.
10. Cloning humans could help us to be ready for global warming.
Evolutionary processes allow us to begin adapting to the changing circumstances on our planet, including global warming issues. Future generations could benefit from human cloning because it would speed up the developmental cycles as natural selection attempts to give humanity more strength. We could take the genetic profile from the most resilient people, apply it to new births, and build a civilization that is ready for the potential challenges ahead.
11. Cloning humans would allow our best and brightest to continue impacting the world.
Imagine a world where the smartest, most influential people in every category of research could continue working because of human cloning. What would we know if Albert Einstein were still alive today? How would our civilization change if Leonardo da Vinci could work with modern tools instead of what was available in his time?
Art, science, literature, manufacturing, and every other industry could see massive gains in innovation if human cloning were allowed. It wouldn’t allow for immortality, but this process could help us to guarantee more outcomes instead of relying on chance.
12. Cloning humans could lead us toward organ development or regeneration.
About 10,000 people on any given day in the United States are waiting on a list to receive a critical organ. Many of them will stay in that position for several months. The waiting time can even be years in some situations. Through the processes of human cloning, we could learn how to duplicate organ tissues from existing resources to help provide more positive outcomes in this area. Instead of waiting for a random donation, doctors could proceed with cells taken from each patient.
List of the Disadvantages of Cloning Humans
1. Cloning humans might always be an imperfect science.
When we look at the success rate of animal cloning, a successful embryo gets created about 1% of the time in the best of circumstances. Scientists have tried to bring back species from extinction using harvested cells without much success, with most offspring dying minutes after they are born – if they even reach that stage in the first place. Dolly the Sheep might be a success story, but this disadvantage is the reason why several governments around the world have made it illegal to try this approach with human cells.
2. Cloning humans would be a technology initially priced only for the wealthy.
Human cloning would create more classism in our societies instead of equality, especially in the early days of this technology’s release. Our socio-economic divides would still be in place because those with money could afford more characteristics, add-ons, or processes for their clones than those who are fighting to put groceries on their table. Even if everyone could afford to make clones one day to support their families, the people who could adopt this tech early would still have significant advantages over those who did not.
3. Cloning humans might create a rapidly aging population.
The information that cells obtain as they age gets designated within their material structures. When a child begins to grow, they create genetic data that their genome keeps. We know that cloning is possible, but what we do not understand yet is how the information contained in our DNA would change through this process.
If age imprinting happens on a genetic level, then providing embryos with mature cells could create concerns with unanticipated aging. This process could lead to new genetic syndromes and an increase in the risk of premature death.
4. Cloning humans could alter our perceptions of individuality.
Cloning humans would create at least two individuals with the same genetic profile. Each person would have their brains and bodies so that they would be like any other person with a genome profile. Each person would develop uniquely based on their circumstances, but there would also be concerns with individuality due to the physical similarities involved.
The people who do not embrace the idea of cloning humans could start to treat those who do differently. This outcome would end up creating a world that’s potentially similar to what the movie Gattaca portrayed.
5. Cloning humans would reduce the diversity of our genetic makeup.
When there are only a handful of unique genetic specimens remaining in a species, then this creates a “bottleneck” where their survival is greatly endangered. We need diversity within our genome to reduce the risk of disorders forming due to our close relationships with one another. The health needs of people in the Ashkenazi Jewish population is evidence of this potential disadvantage.
Several conditions are more likely to occur when humans stay within the same genetic profile. Spinal muscular atrophy, Tay-Sachs disease, cystic fibrosis, and other long-term conditions can arise at a risk rate of 10% when a genetic bottleneck occurs in humans.
6. Cloning humans would lead to the exploitation of women.
The only way that we can begin to clone humans is to have enough viable embryos available for scientists to use. IVF centers have over 400,000 of them in storage in the United States, but the need would be much higher than this. Scientists would need to produce enough cloned fetuses to create a sufficient quantity of viable stem cell lines. Women would receive medication injections that would help them to ovulate rapidly. Then there would be a requirement to undergo an invasive procedure to extract eggs to begin the embryo-making process.
Even under today’s best practices circumstances, up to 5% of women experience hyperstimulation when they begin IVF treatments. It is a side effect that leads to ongoing abdominal pain, reproductive health concerns, and infertility in rare cases.
7. Cloning humans would turn people into potential commodities.
Even individuals who support the advancement of stem cell and embryonic research are against the idea of creating embryos specifically for research purposes. The danger we have when looking at the science of cloning humans is that society might try to produce medical outcomes for others.
Activated cells are still part of the human experience. Therapeutic human cloning might contribute to medical information that we can use in the future, but the costs may be too high to notice any benefits happening from this approach.
8. Cloning humans would change how we approach grief and unexpected loss.
We live in a world where about 15,000 children under the age of 5 die every day. This figure has dropped dramatically since the 1990s when it topped 34,000, but it is still way too high. One child under 15 dies at an average of every five seconds, and the rate is 60 times higher in the highest mortality countries compared to those with the lowest rates. The idea of cloning humans would change how these parents approach grief because science could provide them with an exact duplicate.
It wouldn’t be the same child, but the new offspring would look and possibly act in the same way. If the parents give this clone the same name, it might feel like that initial loss never happened. This approach to life could eventually devalue it to the point where we shrug apathetically if something terrible happens. You can just go make a replacement.
Cloning humans often creates a “Sixth Day” debate about ethics. Many of our creation stories suggest that a deity produced two humans to begin populating our planet. This scientific process would change that process so that natural reproduction wouldn’t be the only way to have children. Anyone could potentially copy themselves with some cell collection and a laboratory setting that can grow a fetus.
When we examine the advantages and disadvantages of cloning humans, we’re asking ourselves the deeper theological questions that may not have answers. Would each copy have a soul? Does consciousness transfer into the new body?
Does a human clone age faster than offspring that are produced from more natural methods?
These are questions we might not need to answer just yet, but the science of cloning is advancing. We may need to address these critical points soon.
Keith Miller has over 25 years of experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.