Cloning and its social and economic impacts

Scientists tell us that human cloning is right around the corner. Genetic advancements are on the fast track. But inquiry into the social and economic repercussions of cloning has been much slower, even though the implications could be enormous.

Predictions of those who have devoted some thinking to the subject range from dire to benevolent.

  • Based on experiences with other reproductive technologies, some experts have predicted the cost of a human clone might be around $250,000.

  • Princeton University molecular biologist Lee M. Silver, in his book "Remaking Eden," predicts a two-class society will emerge – populated by well-off, genetically engineered individuals whose parents could afford genetic engineering and "Naturals" conceived the old fashioned way.

  • Gilles Saint-Paul of Toulouse University, in a paper entitled "The Economics of Human Cloning," predicts only the most talented people will be cloned initially – but eventually a classless society will emerge in which the demand for cloning disappears because everyone will have high-ability genes.

  • Another Princeton molecular biologist, Shirley Tilghman, says we are still in the Dark Ages when it comes to understanding the combination of genes that contribute to intelligence and personality.

    Still others point out that environmental factors play a role in human development – and we still have a considerable way to go in understanding just how those factors work.

    Source: Alan B. Krueger (Princeton University),
  • Economic Scene: When It Comes to Cloning, Social Science Has to Catch Up With Genetic Science, New York Times, March 1, 2001.

    For NYT text

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