Academic journal article The George Washington International Law Review

The World after Dolly: International Regulation of Human Cloning

Academic journal article The George Washington International Law Review

The World after Dolly: International Regulation of Human Cloning

Article excerpt


On February 22, 1997 the line between reality and science fiction blurred when the world discovered that a clone-a genetic twin of an organism-had been created from the single cell of an adult sheep.1 The clone, Dolly, made society realize that human cloning was now within mankind's grasp.2 Ethicists, researchers, and legislators across the globe scrambled to identify the ramifications of the cloning experiment.3 Most of the world's religious groups took stances on the issue.4 The Catholic Church opposed the possibility of human cloning.5 Other religions hailed the achievement as the next step in humankind's physical and spiritual evolution.6 Nations attempted to separate fact from fiction and decide what regulatory precautions, if any, were required.

It has now been more than four years since Dolly made headlines. Subsequent experiments have shown that Dolly was not a fluke, and new techniques have made cloning more efficient.7 If science is left unchecked, it is simply a matter of time until the first human clone is created. An entrepreneur already made headlines when he attempted to gather funds so that he could conduct the first human cloning experiments.8

This Note evaluates national and international responses to human cloning research and argue the need for a global treaty and regulatory structure. The discussion section explains how some nations passed temporary moratoria or legislation and others IMAGE FORMULA72

ignored the issue entirely.9 Some nations banded together; others stood alone.10 The discussion also compares differing national approaches to the regulation of human cloning. The analysis section explains the need for an international agency to regulate human cloning research, outline its structure, and define its jurisdiction. Finally, the analysis advocates United States involvement in the creation of such a regulatory body.


A. The Science of Cloning

1. Cloning: Separating Fact from Fiction

Many popular myths exist about human cloning. When people imagine clones they think of images out of science fiction movies and books, such as Huxley's Brave New World.11 People may picture colonies of identical humans, alike in image, thought, and action. Some people imagine armies of genetically identical and superior soldiers. These fantastic notions have little grounding in scientific fact. The American Heritage Dictionary defines a clone as "a replica of a DNA sequence, such as a gene, produced by genetic engineering."12 When this definition is applied on the human level, clones are people with identical genetic blueprints.13 Clones may be genetically alike, but it is arguable that they are still two unique and distinct individuals. The proof of this argument lies in identical twins, nature's long-standing version of human clones. Identical twins tend to be raised in similar environments, yet show distinct personality, and sometimes physical, traits. The existence of identical twins should dispel one popular misconception regarding human clones: genetically identical individuals are not novel and they project distinct personalities.14 IMAGE FORMULA75

Recent cloning developments, however, have allowed the replication of an adult cell.15 This development would allow the creation of genetically identical individuals that are a generation apart. A father and son, for example, could have the same genome (the term that refers to the entire collection of genes). Cloning from an adult cell is different from the natural occurrence of identical twins and has only recently been attempted with mammals.16

Many people fear that such a technology could lead to a quest for immortality among individuals.17 This notion is scientifically flawed. Identical twins are distinct individuals with recognizably different personality and physical traits even when they are raised in the same environment. …

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