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Ian Wilmut: Human Cloner

Wesley J. Smith

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How the man who created Dolly the sheep slid down the slippery slope to human reproductive cloning.

IAN WILMUT, the co-creator of Dolly the Sheep, now intends to clone human life. This is quite a shift for Wilmut. When he and Keith Campbell entered the science pantheon with their announcement of the birth of Dolly, they forced the world to grapple with the question of whether it is moral to clone human life. But Wilmut claimed not to be interested in cloning humans. As described in his book, /The Second Creation: Dolly and the Age of Biological Control/, Wilmut wanted to use cloning technology to create genetically altered animals for use in deriving human medicines.

Thus, Dolly was a mere precursor to Polly, a "transgenic" sheep bio-engineered to possess a human gene. The hope for Polly was that she would lead to the creation of a herd whose milk could be "pharmed" for use in the manufacture of human medicines.

But Wilmut's institute went broke. So now, he has changed his tune about pursuing human cloning research. True, he won't be attempting reproductive cloning. But if he succeeds in creating cloned human embryos, his work could result directly in the birth of the first cloned baby. Here's why:

It is often stated that there are two different types of cloning--reproductive cloning, that is, cloning that results in the birth of a baby, and "therapeutic cloning," e.g., the creation of cloned human embryos for use and destruction in medical research. But this is a misnomer. Cloning is cloning is cloning. Once cloning creates a new embryo, there are no further acts of cloning. At that point, all that remains is deciding what to do with the new human life that has been created.

Read the entire article on the Weekly Standard website (new window will open).

Posted: 19-Feb-05



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