Cloning has been highly successful in cats, dogs, monkeys, mice, horse, sheep, cattle, and an extinct Pyrenean Ibex (which only lived for seven minutes). Human cloning is another story. Because it is illegal in many countries, research opportunities and funding have been limited. There is even a non-binding United Nations Declaration on Human Cloning, which shows how seriously this issue is taken, and how widely held the view is that human cloning is abhorrent.
However there are some reproductive scientists who continue to work towards cloning a human. Of particular note is Dr. Panayiotis Zavos and the Zavos Organisation. Zavos claims that he has no shortage of people wishing to overcome fertility obstacles by cloning themselves, or a partner, but the outlay is steep. This still experimental therapy costs around US$80,000.
Several claims of the birth of cloned babies remain unproven. The recent Discovery Channel documentary Cloning People revealed that Zavos and colleagues have transferred cloned embryos into a woman’s womb on more than one occasion, however to date none have been viable. As early IVF attempts showed, success is now only a matter of refining technique, and perseverance.
But this is only the public face of cloning technologies – what about the places where the camera is forbidden to go?
A far bigger leap involves accelerated growth. Cloning results in an identical DNA copy, but the copy is born as a baby. The baby must then move through interminable childhood before becoming a functioning adult. Which renders the cloning process near to useless for any kind of mass manufacturing purposes such as clone armies, or armies of cheap workers. Current research into stem cells shows that accelerated cell growth is possible. It is only when this is perfected that we need fear where human cloning will lead.
This is the leap we make with Evangeline, where a jilted lover may have his girlfriend cloned, and wait only one year for her ‘reproduction’ to be functional; six months for growing her, six months for socialising her, and he will have her by his side again, this time never to leave.