Nobel Laureate John Gurdon not a fan of idea of human cloning

John GurdonHuman cloning is an important issue at both scientific and societal levels. Earlier I included a guest post from bioethicist, Arthur Caplan, on human cloning.

Today I am posting a short Q&A with Nobel Laureate John Gurdon.

I asked Gurdon three specific questions and below each I have listed his answer. My sense is that he is not very enthusiastic about the idea of human reproductive cloning.

1.) Assuming technological issues are overcome, do you see human cloning (and by this I mean reproductive cloning) becoming an accepted, relatively normal element of human society in say about 50 years?

Gurdon: I do not see any prospect of human (reproductive) cloning becoming an accepted element of society.  This is because all cloning experiments generate a fairly large number of abnormalities as well as some normal products.

2.) Would you be comfortable with human cloning? In part I ask because this article ( ) seems to suggest that you would indeed be OK with the idea.

Gurdon: I would only be comfortable with human cloning if it could be shown that it works more efficiently than normal reproductive cloning.

3.) What do you see as the potential positives and negatives, such as certain ethical issues, of human cloning for society?

Gurdon: I see no significant positive outcome of human cloning unless, as I said above, it turned out to be so well developed that it gave a smaller proportion of abnormalities than normal reproduction.


3 thoughts on “Nobel Laureate John Gurdon not a fan of idea of human cloning”

  1. It’s an interesting perspective to make the answer contingent upon “achieving fewer abnormalities”. But that would presuppose a willingness to undertake an experimental program where human reproductive cloning was done/attempted in spite of the risk of significant abnormalities. I take it that this might be acceptable in the same sense that the FDA proclaims a stem cell to be a drug? (So just follow the protocol for developing/manufacturing a drug.) It all seems highly “abnormal” to me. But, then, so did quantum mechanics seem abnormal when first I studied it (actually, it still is), so perhaps “abnormal” is just a limitation of my mind… I can envision scenarios where there could be a blurred line between regenerative medicine and reproduction.

    I wouldn’t take definitive positions on such things…

    1. Failure to take a “definitive” position may leave the decision(s) for others to make. I agree with your comment regarding acceptance contingent on improvement over nature: viz. it would appear to require research where the risks are unknown at best.

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