Cloned Mice

August 11, 1998

Mice huddled together in a sawdust lined container in Honolulu prove once again that cloning a sheep was not a fluke. Researchers at the University of Hawaii announced they had cloned more than 50 female mice in three generations: the granddaughters are twin sisters of the grandmothers.

The procedure involves extracting the donor nucleus from an adult mouse cumulus cell, which adjoins egg cells within the ovary. After new genetic material is injected, the cells are bathed in chemicals that prompt division.

It would be impossible to downplay the significance of this development. Even after cloning Dolly the sheep, many researchers were skeptical that other mammals could easily be cloned. As one researcher said, "If sheep and mice can be cloned, then probably many other species can be cloned as well." And certainly that means that someday (perhaps sooner than anyone might think) human beings could be cloned.

But the relevant question is, should human beings be cloned? Usually the arguments for cloning involve replacing a child that died or providing spare parts for an existing human being from his cloned twin. Neither are very compelling arguments for pushing ahead with human cloning experiments.

While Congress debates the issue of cloning, theologians ask whether it is permissible for "the creature to become the Creator" by advancing the latest developments in genetics and artificial reproduction. Sociologists wonder if we are moving toward a Brave New World where sidewalk cloning clinics sit next to in vitro fertilization clinics. Meanwhile scientists keep moving the boundaries, making much of the debate irrelevant. The time to debate the morality of cloning is now.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.

© 1998 Probe Ministries International