Close-up of a young monkey

Remember the human cloning controversies of the early 2000s? One reason they faded was that scientists were unable to clone non-human primates. Now that researchers have produced two cloned monkeys, we should brace ourselves for a rerun of arguments in favour of human clones. But human reproductive cloning would be every bit as misguided and dangerous now as it was then.

As long ago as 1971, James Watson of double helix fame warned in The Atlantic about the prospect of “Moving Toward the Clonal Man”. He later changed his mind and began promoting human reproductive cloning, as well as suggesting that human germline modification could tackle stupidity and ensure all women are “pretty”.

In 1997, headlines announced that scientists in the UK had created what had long been considered biologically impossible: a cloned mammal, a sheep dubbed “Dolly”. Debate about creating human clones immediately followed. Time, for example, put Dolly on its cover the following month and posed the question: “Will There Ever Be Another You?”

A few mavericks claimed to be on the verge... see more