Noun: The process of creating an exact copy of a biological unit (e.g. a DNA sequence, cell, or organism) from which it was derived, especially by way of biotechnological methods


Cloning can be natural or artificial. Examples of cloning that occur naturally are as follows:

  • vegetative reproduction in plants, e.g. water hyacinth producing multiple copies of genetically-identical plants through apomixis
  • binary fission in bacteria
  • parthenogenesis in certain animals

Making multiple copies by manipulation procedures or biotechnology is an artificial cloning. It can be:

  • molecular cloning, where copies of specific gene fragment are produced
  • cellular cloning, where single-celled organisms with the exact genetic content of the original cell are produced in cell cultures
  • organism cloning, or reproductive cloning, where a multicellular clone is created generally through somatic cell nuclear transfer

Stomatic Cell Nuclear Transfer

So you want to clone your son and give him an identical twin brother? Here’s how to do it in theory. You take an unfertilized ripe ovum from a woman, and remove and discard its nucleus. Take a skin cell from your son and remove its nucleus.

Now, insert this nucleus into the empty shell of the ovum. Give it a few tiny jolts of electricity and with luck, he will grow and develop just like a naturally fertilized egg. If he is planted in a womb and all goes well, in nine months she will deliver your son’s identical twin.

A number of large animals have been cloned, starting with Dolly the sheep. Typically, in each case there have been hundreds of failures before each success.

These have included miscarriages, multiple deformities, sudden deaths, gigantism and more. Because of these problems, it is so far almost universally agreed that a cloned human should not be brought to term and delivered.

Human Cloning

Because of the above, two terms have been given to human cloning even though there is really only one type.

  • The term “reproductive” cloning has been used to describe when a human clone is implanted and delivered as a full term pregnancy. As noted, there is almost complete condemnation of this.
  • Research, experimental or “therapeutic” cloning have been the terms used for the other “type”. In this, the procedure is identical to the above except that this new cloned human is experimented upon in his or her first few weeks of life and then killed.

This is accurately termed research or experimental cloning. However, many scientists, eager to perform destructive research experiments, have coined the name “therapeutic” cloning for this. This is a classic example of semantic gymnastics using a false name to fool the public. There is nothing therapeutic about such lethal research. Accordingly, the very descriptive term “clone and kill” is commonly used.

United States

The Patients First Act of 2017 (HR 2918, 115th Congress) aims to promote stem cell research, using cells that are “ethically obtained,” that could contribute to a better understanding of diseases and therapies, and promote the “derivation of pluripotent stem cell lines without the creation of human embryos…”.

In 1998, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2009, the US Congress voted whether to ban all human cloning, both reproductive and therapeutic (see Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act). Each time, divisions in the Senate, or an eventual veto from the sitting President (President George W. Bush in 2005 and 2007), over therapeutic cloning prevented either competing proposal (a ban on both forms or on reproductive cloning only) from being passed into law. On March 10, 2010 a bill (HR 4808) was introduced with a section banning federal funding for human cloning.[64] Such a law, if passed, would not have prevented research from occurring in private institutions (such as universities) that have both private and federal funding. However, the 2010 law was not passed.

There are currently no federal laws in the United States which ban cloning completely. Fifteen American states (Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Iowa, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, North Dakota, New Jersey, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Florida, Georgia, and Virginia) ban reproductive cloning and three states (Arizona, Maryland, and Missouri) prohibit use of public funds for such activities.