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Why a Clone is Not a Clone

A clone is not an exact replica of the person or animal being cloned, but more like an identical twin one or two generations removed. "Even in identical twins, where the DNA is identical, they are different people because of the influence of environment," says Janet Rowley, professor of medicine at the University of Chicago.

Nature or nurture?how much input genes and the environment have on our makeup?is a scientific debate that's not yet settled. "Hitler was the way he was not just because of genes," says philosopher Bonnie Steinbock. "If you tried to clone Hitler, you might instead get the personality of Thomas Jefferson." Human clones will finally answer this question.

Cloning has not yet been perfected in animals. Many clones are born with defects and a great many of them die shortly after birth. "It's very difficult to imagine that we'll understand what's involved any time soon, so to do this in humans is insanity," says biologist Barry Zirkin.

The clone born with the help of Clonaid on December 27 is meant to replace a daughter who died young. "(Cloning) won't replace a dead child," says Zirkin. "It would be terribly burdensome for a child to have to grow up thinking that he or she is a replacement for someone who died."

Clonaid says a South Korean woman who is pregnant with a clone left the country for an unknown destination in July. South Korea is investigating whether cloning violates existing laws that ban unlicensed, unethical medical activities or practices. Clonaid also say that three other women, including another from Asia, will give birth to clones by early February. The clone born in December, who has American parents, returned to the U.S. Monday. It?s not known exactly where the family will live.

The idea of producing babies with?or without?specific traits is a Pandora?s box that has already been opened. Amniocentesis gives pregnant women the opportunity to abort defective fetuses. Parents try various methods to choose the sex of their children. New evidence that homosexuality is genetic may cause parents to eventually choose abortion rather than raise a gay child.

While eliminating genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis may be a worthy goal, the ability to choose a child?s sex could seriously affect the future generation, if it skews the ratio between males and females. China will face this problem in the future, since its one-child policy has caused many people to kill female infants. Since we do not yet understand the biological role homosexuals play in our culture, we may be heading for trouble if we produce fewer of them.

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