NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Getting a Perspective on Clones

August 10, 2001

Human clones would be a lot more like identical human twins than they would be cookie-cutter replicas of people. So say experts on the subject. And twins -- although they look much alike because they share the same genes -- are known to be clearly different people with distinct points of view. That's because what makes us truly individual are our minds and thought processes.

  • A baby born through cloning would simply be a younger twin and would not be the "same" person as the one who donated genes.
  • Studies of twins find generally a 60 percent correlation in characteristics such as intelligence and temperament.
  • Clones -- who would be twins displaced in time -- and who will therefore have very different life experiences, would likely share even fewer similarities with their genetic forebears than identical twins do today.
  • The problem with cloning right now is that only 2 percent to 4 percent of mammalian clones are long-term survivors -- and even most of them are not healthy.

Given such an error rate, many experts think the time is not yet right for human cloning -- aside from the obvious ethical considerations. A good benchmark to decide when to proceed with human reproductive cloning might be when researchers are reasonably sure that clones would suffer no more likelihood of birth defects than would children produced by sexual reproduction. The current likelihood of such defects now stands at about 2 percent.

Source: Ronald Bailey (Reason magazine), "There'll Never Be Another You," Wall Street Journal, August 10, 2001.

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