Opinion on Ethical Aspects of Cloning Techniques, Group of Advisers of the Ethical Implications of Biotechnology of the European Commission, Opinion No. 9 (May 28, 1997), reprinted in 49 International Digest of Health Legislation 406 (1998).

Requested by the Commission in February 1997.

Rapporteur: Dr Anne McLaren


Cloning is the process of producing genetically identical organisms, through the division of a single embryo or through nuclear transfer (transfer of a foreign nucleus to an egg from which the nucleus has been removed). The first successful cloning in vertebrate animals was reported in 1952, in frogs. In February 1997, the birth of a cloned lamb (named 'Dolly'), by transfer of a nucleus issued from an adult lamb, casts a new light on the ethical questions involved. The use of cloning on animals raises the question of animal welfare as well as, from a general point of view, the question of people's responsibility in relation to nature, especially with regard to genetic diversity.

The use of cloning on humans resurrects the controversy about embryo research. It brings into play the ethical principles of respect of human dignity and non-instrumentalization of the human body. It also creates concerns regarding its potential use for eugenics objectives.


'... Research on cloning on animals ... is ethically only accept-able if carried out with strict regard to animal welfare, under the supervision of licensing bodies ... . Cloning of farm animals ... is acceptable only when the aims and methods are ethically justified and when it is carried out under ethical conditions, as outlined in the GAEIB's Opinion No 7 on the genetic modification of animals ... . Particular attention should be paid to the need to preserve genetic diversity ... any attempt to produce a genetically identical human individual by nuclear substitution from a human adult or child cell ('reproductive cloning') should be prohibited ... for those countries in which non-therapeutic research on human embryos is allowed under strict licence, a research project involving nuclear substitution should have the objective either to throw light on the cause of human disease or to contribute to the alleviation of suffering, and should not include replacement of the manipulated embryo in a uterus ... . The European Community should clearly express its condemnation of human reproductive cloning ... in the relevant texts and regulations in preparation.'

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