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The real reason that we’ve never cloned a human, according to George Annas, a bioethicist at Boston University, is that there’s no point.

In most countries there are laws or agreements against artificially creating a genetic duplicate of another person, both because of ethical concerns and technical difficulties. Cloning is still far from a perfect science, and creating an imperfect clone would likely mean making a person with potentially devastating genetic abnormalities.

But even if we knew that we could successfully copy the exact genetic code of another person, Annas asks: “Why would you want to duplicate a human?”

“Nobody’s got a perfect genome,” he explains, and there’s no reason to make a copy of all of someone’s imperfections and disorders.

Making a genetically modified human — not a clone of an existing one — could be a different story. But the questions of how and why raise tricky ethical issues we’ve only begun to grapple with. It’s long past time to face those questions head on — and figure out where we really stand.

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