CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 17 February 2018

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Will cloning make a monkey out of humanity?

BEIJING (AsiaNews): A group of Chinese scientists have cloned two macaques monkeys using the same process that led to the birth of Dolly the sheep 20 years ago. 
 
The two, named Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua (Zhong Hua means the Chinese homeland), were born at the Neuroscience Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shanghai and are the result of years of research on a technique called somatic cell nuclear transfer.
 
Pu Muming, director of the institute, said that the technique could also be used to clone humans, although the monkeys were cloned for medical research.
 
The cloning has met with a great deal of criticism. British scientist Robin Lovell-Badge, of the Francis Crick Institute, points out that the process used is “a very inefficient and hazardous procedure. “ In fact, only two clones were born from a group of 79 embryos. 
 
Lovell-Badge, said that thinking of applying the technique to human cloning is a “crazy…too inefficient, too insecure and useless.”
 
Other scientists recalled that Dolly the sheep was a half failure: she had to be put down because of premature aging so it was not possible to test if cloning is harmless and whether it is really necessary.
 
Elio Cardinal Sgreccia, president emeritus of the Pontifical Academy for Life, condemned the experiment, calling it “a threat to the future of man,” Vatican Radio reported.
 
“There is no doubt that the transition from the first sheep, Dolly, to other animals and now even the monkey, or a primate so close to man, represents a genuine attack on the future of humanity,” he said.
 
“Behind the desire to clone a monkey we can hide a tendency that has already emerged in other areas of research: that of leading man to the monkey and the monkey to man and finally to consider the monkey the same as man,” the cardinal said.

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