The main reason to clone plants or animals is to mass produce organisms with desired qualities, such as a prize-winning orchid or a genetically engineered animal -- for instance, sheep have been engineered to produce human insulin. If you had to rely on sexual reproduction (breeding) alone to mass produce these animals, then you would run the risk of breeding out the desired traits because sexual reproduction reshuffles the genetic deck of cards.
Other reasons for cloning might include replacing lost or deceased family pets and repopulating endangered or even extinct species. Whatever the reasons, the new cloning technologies have sparked many ethical debates among scientists, politicians and the general public. Several governments have considered or enacted legislation to slow down, limit or ban cloning experiments outright. It is clear that cloning will be a part of our lives in the future, but the course of this technology has yet to be determined.
For more information on cloning and related topics, check out the links below.
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More Great Links
- New Scientist: Rare pig cloned in single cycle - April 2002
- BBC: Cloning humans: Can it really be done? - March 2001
- British Medical Journal: Cloned Calves are Grown from Cultured Cells - January 2000
- Applied Genetics: Cloning: Bringing Back Endangered Species - October 2000
- Applied Genetics: Cloning: Pigs Cloned for the First Time - April 2000
- Discover: A Sheep in Sheep's Clothing: Genetic cloning not necessarily unethical - January 1998