What are Some Disadvantages of Cloning?

Margo Upson

Cloning is defined as using the cells of one living subject, plant or animal, to create another duplicate subject. A cloned subject will be identical to its parent. Cloning has become the center of a huge debate over the advantages and disadvantages of producing clones, especially of animals and humans. While this technology could be useful for laboratory studies and for creating desirable livestock, there are several disadvantages of cloning that should be considered.

Some debates have suggested cloning can create more desirable livestock.
Some debates have suggested cloning can create more desirable livestock.

One of the biggest disadvantages of cloning is that the technology is still so uncertain. Dolly the sheep, the first mammalian clone, was born in 1996. While she was initially successful, she died young of a disease not normally seen in sheep of her age. Scientists are still unsure of any genetic mutations that might occur when an animal is cloned. Also, while Dolly was a successful clone, there were hundreds of failed clones before she was made, including several dead fetuses. Other cloned animals have turned out horribly deformed.

Some people believe that cloning is unnatural.
Some people believe that cloning is unnatural.

Losing gene diversity is another of the disadvantages of cloning. Gene diversity is what keeps an entire species from being wiped out by a singular virus if none of them have natural immunities. This is due to the lack of gene diversity. Gene mutations happen naturally, and help to explain why some people naturally are taller, shorter, or more athletic than others. Some people and animals naturally have a stronger immune system. If gene diversity is lost due to excessive cloning, there are no mutations to allow some of the cloned group to survive a newly introduced disease.

Ethical concerns have been raised about cloning.
Ethical concerns have been raised about cloning.

Another of the disadvantages of cloning is that there are a lot of ethical considerations that would cause most people to protest. One of these ethical concerns is that cloning is unnatural, and considered “playing God.” Another concern is the treatment of clones. Clones would have the same needs as non-clones of their species. Humane treatment guidelines would still apply.

There is always a risk of cloning technology being abused. One of the main disadvantages of cloning is that the technology would have to be kept closely monitored. For example, imagine what a corrupt dictator could do with cloning. There will always be someone looking to use cloning for their own personal use, and many feel that the best way to prevent this is to not pursue cloning at all.

There are many advantages to cloning, such as the chance of curing certain diseases and being able to breed ideal stock for research and consumption. However, the disadvantages of cloning are seen by many to far outweigh any benefits that might be seen. Because of the risk taking involved in cloning, it is a technology that many experts say may be better left alone, at least until it is better understood.

Losing diversity is one disadvantage to cloning.
Losing diversity is one disadvantage to cloning.

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Discussion Comments


Cloning is very interesting but I think if it is used properly and for the good of people - such as replacing organs and finding cures for diseases - it will be okay and ethics will not be in question because it benefits everyone. Cloning could help restore important, keystone species in an ecosystem that have gone extinct.


I think cloning is good and other people hate it because honestly, if there were a survey for 100 people it asked is life good, then 99 people would say yes and 1 person would say no. Even if it is a lie. Humans. Always defying always questioning. That's good. Defy the norm.


A big problem is that the population of the globe is increasing day by day, so in this increasing population, what is the need, what is the value of a clone in our society? If a person is infertile, they should adopt a child. There is a lot of children who have no guardians.


Tampering with human and animal genetics is like playing God by altering "His matrix he created for us" It's like copyright infringement.

C'mon, take me on, atheists. Yeah, yeah, big bang, blah blah blah. But, the materials that reacted on each other that resulted in the big bang had to originate from a source! It wasn't just there! Don't fool yourself.

Our world is about two perspectives: Good/Evil, Positive/Negative, 1/0.

The Greatest lie the devil told man was the lie that he does not exist.


Does anyone know if the military has done cloning research?

There are a lot of sophisticated arguments against cloning. But does anyone really believe that scientific ethics are enough to restrain the scientific community, one that is often controlled by a profit motive, from moving closer and closer to cloning? It seems like in spite of our best intentions, cloning is inevitable.

Has anyone seen that movie Gattaca? It is not directly about cloning but it does involve human engineering and the pursuit of a perfect individual.

It is one of my favorite movies and one I can return to over and over because the issues it raises are so complex and so relevant.


@clintflint - I guess it depends on what you're hoping for from cloning. What I'm hoping for is that they can eventually clone body organs so we can all live longer.

That's just about happening now and there's no need to completely clone a whole human to get those benefits.

@browncoat - Yeah, one of the main things people want to use cloning for now is to recreate beloved pets who have passed away. I can see families deciding that grandpa was just too wonderful to be allowed to disappear from the world completely.

But grandpa's clone is a different person, with different parents, different experiences and so forth. Is it ethical to treat him as though he's the same person?

That's definitely one of the disadvantages of human cloning. We'll never quite get what we're hoping for.

@SarahGen - I assume if we get to the point where we can clone a person completely, it wouldn't be done without a reason, so there wouldn't be random clones walking around without anyone to care for them. They would, most likely, start life as a baby (a very expensive baby) and be adopted by whoever wanted them cloned in the first place.

That's the main ethical issue here. I don't think it likely that people will ever be able to clone someone cheaply or easily. Each cloned baby would be cherished, but why? If the reasons aren't ethical, then you've got a problem.


@burcidi-- The problem with cell cloning is that it requires the use of an embryo. The embryo forms and then dies. Many religious folks see this as the equivalent of abortion or murder.

When we say cloning, it doesn't necessarily mean cloning an entire person. Most of the current research on cloning is the cloning of tissues that can be used to treat various diseases and organ damage. The other name for this is stem cell research.

I think this is really exciting and beneficial for society. I have diabetes and if one day, my diabetes can be treated with the cloning of cells and tissues, that would be a miracle for me. Or if I have kidney dysfunction and the doctors can replace the tissues in my kidney with cloning, it would save my life.

@TimeTheorist-- You make a really good point about clones not having families and pre-determined roles in society. That hadn't occurred to me before as disadvantage of human cloning but it's true. Clones wouldn't have parents or family. How would they shape their personality and what would be their identity?

I think as humans, they would be depressed and miserable living as clones. What right do we have to do that to anyone?


This helped me some. My teacher gave us a project. I wanted to do it on cloning.


@TimeTheorist - I don't think we as a society should discount cloning technology altogether. In fact, I think there are a number of medical applications for cloning and stem cell technology that only stand to benefit humanity. The ability to reproduce missing limbs and other organs allows people a second chance at living a fully productive and functional life. Imagine a blind man being able to see 20/20 again. Doesn't that seem like a line of technological advances we should pursue?


It's always funny to me when people call things unnatural or accuse others of "playing God". Humans have been doing unnatural things and playing God since before written history. If doing unnatural things is so bad, then I guess cutting your hair, clipping your nails, and taking showers are all in this same category. Humans play God every day. The human mind is capable of understanding things on a level that animals aren't, and it is actually quite common for humans to use that information to manipulate things found in nature to our benefit.

That said however, I don't think cloning is a bad idea because it is unnatural or for some contrived, religious moral reason. It is bad because the fact is, overpopulation is becoming a huge problem, and already is in many regions of the world. Cloning would lead to more people that don't really have families or a pre-destined role in society. This makes them the ideal candidates for distinctly inhumane roles, as this articles discusses. If Star Wars taught me anything, it's that we as a society must not allow people in power to begin cloning operations at their whim, if the ability to do so ever does become a reality.


thank you so much. you have helped me a lot. the teacher asked us to write something about cloning and say our opinion and this article was very rich with information. thanks again.

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