Serious concerns as primates cloned for the first time

The Scottish Council on Human Bioethics (SCHB) has expressed concerns about the possibility of human cloning after a macaque monkey was cloned in Shanghai.

It is the first ever primate clone and it was made by somatic cell nuclear transfer, the same technique used for Dolly the sheep.

Dr Calum MacKellar, Director of Research at the SCHB, said: “Though the Chinese scientists should be congratulated for their scientific achievement, the cloning of human beings should never take place. There is indeed a very serious risk that such human clones would just be created to fulfil the desires of their creators.”

The cloning of human beings is prohibited in the UK by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990. It is also prohibited under international law, including the EU Charter on Fundamental Human Rights which states that: “in the fields of medicine and biology, the following must be respected in particular: … the prohibition of the reproductive cloning of human beings.”

The Church teaches that the cloning of human beings is ‘contrary to the dignity of human procreation because it takes place in total absence of an act of personal love between spouses’. It also ‘represents a form of total domination over the reproduced individual by the producer’.