Human Exceptionalism

Dolly’s Tenth Birthday

Dolly was born ten years ago (last July). Many think she was the first cloned mammal. Not true. She was the first mammal cloned with an adult cell. But that is neither here nor there. The point is that Dolly’s birth changed everything.

The Scotsman reports about how a party is planned to commemorate the tenth anniversary of her unveiling at the museum where she is now on display after being put down in 2003. It also mentions that cloning is controversial without mentioning the human element. If mammalian cloning were only about recreating endangered species or making copies of prized animals, there would be little stir caused at all. It is the prospect of human cloning that turns the hair white.

So a belated happy birthday, Dolly, and pardon me if I don’t celebrate. I think it would have been better for humankind if you had never been born because I believe human cloning, if it can be reliably done, will prove a disaster for humankind. But there is no unringing a bell once it has rung. So, now we have to strive to prevent human cloning legally. If that proves impossible, we have to prevent our treasure from being sunk into this immoral (in my view) approach to human procreation. We need to strive to protect poor women from being reduced to so many egg farms in the drive by scientists and Big Biotech to make billions manufacturing biotechnological human “products.” And perhaps most importantly, we need to contain the moral damage posed by a technology that in the name of science and finding cures, threatens to dehumanize and commoditize humankind.