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Let’s Not Distort Debates about Human Cloning and Heritable Gene Editing

Cloning is back in the headlines. Researchers managed to create two macaque monkeys by cloning, and immediately there was talk about using the Dolly-the-sheep technique to create human clones. Which leads straightaway to the claim that public concerns about human reproductive cloning “echo many of the earlier objections to IVF.”

That is historically inaccurate. It’s also a notion that promotes, either deliberately or inadvertently, an extreme technological agenda that would lead to the production of not just human clones but also genetically engineered people.

The specter of human cloning was raised in the widely syndicated Associated Press article about the cloned monkeys entitled: “Scientists Successfully Clone Monkeys: Are Humans Up Next?” It was also featured in Reuters, (picked up by NBC and many others), The GuardianNational Review, and the London Daily Telegraphfor instance; most of them had “human” in the headline as well as the body text. Almost all the coverage opposed human reproductive cloning, but only on safety grounds:...