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The Issue of Human Cloning The recent news of the successful cloning of an adult sheep-in which the sheeps DNA was inserted into an unfertilized sheep egg to produce a lamb with identical DNA-has generated an outpouring of ethical concerns These concerns are not about Dolly the now famous sheep nor even about the considerable impact cloning may have on the animal breeding industry but rather about the possibility of cloning humans For the most part however the ethical concerns being raised are exaggerated and misplaced because they are based on erroneous views about what genes are and what they can do The danger therefore lies not in the power of the technology but in the misunderstanding of its significance Producing a clone of a human being would not amount to creating a carbon copy-an automaton of the sort familiar from science fiction It would be more like producing a delayed identical twin And just as identical twins are two separate people-biologically psychologically morally and legally though not genetically-so a clone is a separate person from his or hernon-contemporaneous twin To think otherwise is to embrace a belief in genetic determinism-the view that genes determine everything about us and that environmental factors or the random events in human development are utterly insignificant The overwhelming consensus among geneticists is that genetic determinism is false As geneticists have come to understand the ways in which genes operate they have also become aware of the myriad ways in which the environment affects their expression The genetic contribution to the simplest physical traits such as height and hair color is significantly mediated by environmental factors And the genetic contribution to the traits we value most deeply from intelligence to compassion is conceded by even the most enthusiastic genetic researchers to be limited and indirect Indeed we need only appeal to our ordinary experience with identical twins-that they are different people despite their
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