Cloning offers the possibility of making exact copies of ourselves. Should this be allowed? What benefits and dangers may cloning bring?
A Clone Is Born
1 On July 5, 1996, at 5:00 p.m., the most famous lamb in history entered the world. She was born in a shed, just down the road from the Roslin Institute in Roslin, Scotland, where she was created. And yet her creator, Ian Wilmut, a quiet, balding fifty-two-year-old embryologist, does not remember where he was when he heard that the lamb, named Dolly, was born. He does not even recall getting a telephone call from John Bracken, a scientist who had monitored the pregnancy of the sheep that gave birth to Dolly, saying that Dolly was alive and healthy and weighed 6.6 kilograms.
2 No one broke open champagne. No one took pictures. Only a few staff members from the institute and a local veterinarian who attended the birth were present. Yet Dolly, who looked for all the world like hundreds of other lambs that dot the rolling hills of Scotland, was soon to change the world.
3 When the time comes to write the history of our age, this quiet birth, the creation of this little lamb, will stand out. The world is a different place now that she is born.
4 Dolly is a clone. She was created not out of the union of a sperm and an egg but out of the genetic material from an udder cell of a six-year-old sheep. Wilmut fused the udder cell with an egg from another sheep, after first removing all genetic material from the egg. The udder cell's genes took up residence in the egg and directed it to grow and develop. The result was Dolly, the identical twin of the original sheep that provided the udder cells, but an identical twin born six years later.
5 Until Dolly entered the world, cloning was the stuff of science fiction. It had been raised as a possibility decades ago, then dismissed, something that serious scientists thought was simply not going to happen anytime soon. Now it is not fantasy to think that someday, perhaps decades from now, but someday, you could clone yourself and make tens, dozens, hundreds of genetically identical twins. Nor is it science fiction to think that your cells could be improved beforehand, genetically engineered to add some genes and remove others. 在多利羊问世之前，克隆技术不过是科学幻想的故事。几十年前有人提出这种可能性，后来遭到摒弃，严肃的科学家那时认为克隆在近期根本不可能实现。现在这已不再是幻想，几十年之后，或许有朝一日你可以克隆自己，造出数十个，数百个，上千个基因完全相同的孪生的兄弟。事先改进你的细胞，运用基因工程注入某些基因，剔除某些基因，这样的事也不再是科学幻想。
6 True, it was a sheep that was cloned, not a human being. But there was nothing exceptional about sheep. Even Wilmut, who made it clear that he was opposed to the very idea of cloning people, said that there was no longer any theoretical reason why humans could not clone themselves, using the same methods he had used to clone Dolly. "There is no reason in principle why you couldn't do it." But, he added, "All of us would find that offensive."
7 We live in a time when we argue about pragmatism and compromises in our quest to be morally right. But cloning forces us back to the most basic questions that have plagued humanity since the dawn of recorded time: What is good and what is evil? And how much potential for evil can we tolerate to obtain something that might be good? Cloning, with its possibilities for creating our own identical twins, brings us back to the ancient sins of vanity and pride; the sins of Narcissus, who so loved himself, and of Prometheus, who, in stealing fire, sought the powers of God. So before we can ask why we are so fascinated by cloning, we have to examine our souls and ask, What exactly so bothers many of us about trying to make an exact copy of our genetic selves? Or, if we are not bothered, why aren't we?
8 We want children who resemble us. Even couples who use donor eggs or donor sperm, search catalogs of donors to find people who resemble themselves. Several years ago, a poem by Linda Pastan, called "To a Daughter Leaving Home," was displayed on the walls of New York subways. It read:
Is it my own image
I love so
in your face?
I lean over your sleep,
his clear pool,
ready to fall in --
to drown for you
Yet if we so love ourselves, reflected in our children, why is it so terrifying to so many of us to think of seeing our exact genetic replicas born again, identical twins years younger than we? Is it one thing for nature to form us through a genetic lottery, and another for us to take complete control, abandoning all thoughts of somehow, through the mixing of genes, having a child who is like us, but better? Normally, when a man and a woman have a child together, the child is an unpredictable mixture of the two. We recognize that, of course, in the old joke in which a beautiful but dumb woman suggests to an ugly but brilliant man that the two have a child. Just think of how wonderful the baby would be, the woman says, with my looks and your brains. Aha, says the man. But what if the child inherited my looks and your brains?