A Chinese scientist named Xu Xiaochun claims he already has technology advanced enough for cloning humans, but he has chosen not to do it yet for fear that society isn’t ready.
According to RT, Xiaochun was a lead developer in the world’s very first factory cloning facility, which is slated to start replicating organisms within the next seven months. With plans to clone a million cows by the year 2020, Xiaochun claims cloning humans is equally possible. However, cloning humans comes with a broad scope of ethical and moral dilemmas that modern society may not yet be willing to face.
“Everything in the supermarket looks good – it’s almost all shiny, good-looking, and uniformly shaped,” the scientist told AFP. “For animals, we weren’t able to do that in the past. But with our cloning factory, we choose to do so now.”
The cloning factory is located at the northern Chinese port of Tianjin and is a result of a collaboration between the Boyalife group and a South Korean company called Sooam Biotech Research Foundation. Xiaochun is the chief executive of Boyalife and has major ambitions for the facility, ranging from cloning livestock to thoroughbred racehorses, and even specially bred police dogs. The Sooam company is involved in cloning woolly mammoths to bring the extinct species back to life and “reviving” family pets with identical clones.
However, cloning humans does not appear to be on the horizon, solely due to the societal restrictions and moral taboos of what some call “playing God.” Xiaochun and his team are afraid that cloning humans could result in a major backlash, including protests and possibly even legal ramifications.
“The technology [for cloning humans] is already there,” said Xiaochun. “If this is allowed, I don’t think there are other companies better than Boyalife that make better technology. Hampering such a project are ethical issues so we must practice self-restrained to avoid a possible public backlash.”
Reports suggest that Boyalife has not attempted tests or experiments involving cloning humans, but that company is confident enough in the technology to think humans could be cloned effectively. According to Hong Kong Free Press, the founder of Sooam specifically chose to pursue the project in China instead of South Korea “because of South Korea’s bioethics law that prohibits the use of human eggs.” This suggests that the two companies have every intention of cloning humans in the future.
Xu Xiaochun does hope that society will eventually change its view on cloning humans, according to the Independent. Like cloning animals, the scientists believe cloning humans can have practical benefits, especially for reproduction.
“Unfortunately, currently, the only way to have a child is to have it be half its mum, half its dad. Maybe in the future you have three choices instead of one. You either have fifty-fifty, or you have a choice of having the genetics 100 percent from Daddy or 100 percent from Mummy. This is only a choice.”
Approximately €28 million has been spent on the project’s construction and development; and while the factory has not begun operations yet, the world is only months away from the grand opening of the first commercial cloning facility. Xiaochun and his team could make a large profit off of cloning dogs, especially. Offers have already come in from people who are considering paying as much as $100,000 to clone a family pet.
Many have discussed the moral dilemma of cloning humans in various essays and articles around the web. As ReligiousTolerance.org says, one problem with cloning humans is the possibility that the first trials will yield humans who are not completely normal (or healthy). Cloning humans could also “deplete ethnic diversity,” and challenge many religious doctrines.
Do you think cloning humans is unethical? Do you think cloning humans should be legally allowed if scientists already have the technology?
[Photo courtesy of Boyalife Group and RNL Bio Co. Ltd. via Getty Images]