Human Cloning

“Human cloning has grabbed people’s imagination, but that is merely a diversion – and one we personally regret, and find distasteful. We did not make Dolly for that… Commentators at large were right to observe that in principle, whatever can be done in sheep might be also done in people; but they did not for the most part perceive that cloning per se – mere replication – is only a fraction of what might in principle be done.”  Ian Wilmut, Scientist

‘Because cloning is so unsuccessful in other animals, it is likely that, even if the techniques are improved, attempts to clone humans would involve suffering and harm to the pregnant women and to any resulting babies. While many bioethicists oppose cloning on principle, some believe that if these safety questions could be overcome, then there is no objection to producing cloned babies, and, indeed, that it would be unethical to oppose it if it allowed some infertile couples to have a child genetically related to at least one parent.’ Genewatch, 2006

“Media interest in cloning is a sideshow. Although - for now - it is too dangerous for human use, it probably will not remain so. Within the decade someone will likely clone a baby, but so what? The procedure will almost certainly remain an expensive, niche technology appealing to a tiny minority of the population. The birth of a delayed identical twin may seem strange and a bit unnerving but it will hardly shake the foundations of society. The same goes for other sensational possibilities such as same-sex couples conceiving offspring.” Gregory Stock, Director, Program on Medicine, Technology, and Society, School of Medicine, UCLA, US

‘Scientists in the UK and South Korea, which are two of only seven countries worldwide that allow this type of research, have now produced cloned human embryos.’ Genewatch, 2006

‘The UN recently voted in favour of a ban on all human cloning, but this was non-binding which means the UK can continue to do therapeutic cloning.’ BBC, 2005

‘Two applications to produce cloned human embryos for research have now been approved. The first was granted in August 2004 to Newcastle University to understand embryo development and develop treatments for diseases such as diabetes and which has succeeded in producing cloned embryos. The second was granted in February 2005 to Ian Wilmut, one of the scientists who created Dolly the cloned sheep, at the Roslin Institute in Scotland, to study motor neuron disease. Inevitably, by improving the cloning technique to develop cloned human embryonic stem cells lines, knowledge and experience is gained that could be used to improve the likelihood of creating cloned humans if cloned embryos were implanted in a woman’s womb.’ Genewatch, 2006

Re-cycling Magic Genes

Re-printing from the same pattern - re-using,

re-cycling the magic genes - but what sparkle

might be lost from such particular mechanisms;

chemical stagnation affect identity, expression,

when systems, grid designed to be one and only

are reawakened. Is it like reaching into a tomb -

or into the womb; re-charging birth or death -

is it like love alive which should have passed.

The Genome is not a fixed entity

The Human Genome locked within the cell; coiled,

entwined, is not a fixed entity – rather, it sparkles -

switching on and off clusters of genes, patterns;

some ignited - others left comfortable and dark

just where we would want them – circumstance,

time, influence, chance, happenings, luck, stress,

all jostling to affect the whole Genome - highlighting

philosophical, psychological and biological problems

of consciousness, its root and residence, formation,

source, energy. Absolute duplication is impossible.

‘I fielded many of the telephone calls that flooded into Roslin Institute in the days after we went public with Dolly, and quickly came to dread the pleas from bereaved families, asking if we could clone their lost loved ones. I have two daughters and a son of my own and know that every parent’s nightmare is to lose a child, and what you would give to have them back, but I had and have no power to help. I suppose this was my first, sharp intimation of the effect that Dolly could have on people’s lives and perceptions. Such pleas are based on a misconception: that cloning of the kind that produced Dolly confers and instant, exact replication – a virtual resurrection. This simply is not the case. But the idea is pervasive, and was reflected in articles and cartoons around the world. The cover of Der Spiegel showed a regiment of Hitlers.’ Ian Wilmut, The Second Creation, Headline, 2001

If I could call you back into skin

If I could call you back into skin -

touch your lips, re-kindle from stars

those moving sequins in your eyes,

would I not.

If I could hear your voice again,

not just whispers in the grass,

leaves crying in the garden,

would I not.

If I could but curl your hand in mine again -

hear comfortable thudding from your heart,

timed against my own drumming blood;

would I not.

But you are not repeatable - your skin cloak

of signature flesh, signed glass of bright eye,

might make a warm, familiar, living ghost;

but I would not -

for you were once and only, are gone

back to dark molecules - never again

will your particular light shine here;

it could not.

“Many hated the idea, including President Clinton of the United States who called for a worldwide moratorium on all cloning research. But others welcomed human cloning and some – like Dr Richard Seed, who in fact is a physicist, not a physician – even offered to set up cloning clinics; though this is surely jumping the gun by several decades since very few scientists have the necessary expertise and, even in the best hands, human cloning would be absurdly risky…human cloning is very far from Keith’s and my own thoughts and ambitions, and we would rather that no one ever attempted it. If they do – and somebody, sometime surely will - it would be cruel not to wish good luck to everyone involved, but the prospect of human cloning causes us grave misgivings. It is physically too risky, it could have untoward effects on the psychology of the cloned child, and in the end we see no medical justification for it. For us, the technology that produced Dolly has far wider signficance.” Ian Wilmut, Scientist

‘The technical obstacles for breeding a transgenic or knockout human are becoming trivial… in a few years from now you could probably, in principle, take a complete cell from your own body, insert a gene into a particular location on a particular chromosome, transfer the nucleus to an egg cell from which the nucleus had been removed, and grow a new human being from the embryo. The person would be a transgenic clone of yourslef, identical in every way except say, having an altered versions of the gene that makes you grow bald…when human cloning is possible, will it be ethical? As a free individual, you own your own genome and no government can nationalise it, nor company purchase it, but does that give you the right to inflict it on another individual?...Cloning may well happen not because the majority approves, but because the minority acts.’ Matt Ridley, Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters, Fourth Estate, 2000

‘...through the 1970s and well into the 80s there were reasons to doubt whether mammals could be cloned by nuclear transfer at all. There were also diversions, including works of fiction. Most of these, like Ira Levin’s Boys from Brazil, which describes the cloning of Nazis deep in the jungle, were presented as conventional novels and led nobody astray. But David Rorvik wrote a work of fiction about the cloning of an eccentric millionaire which he claimed was fact, and it was published as such in 1978…with the title In His Image: The Cloning of a Man. For a time, some people – including some biologists – believed what Rorvik said…’ Ian Wilmut, Keith Campbell, Colin Tudge, The Path to Dolly, The Second Creation, Headline, 2001

‘So what exactly is a clone?… We do not seek to simply clone animals – to produce facsmilies of existing creatures. We are not concerned primarily to multiply elite livestock, and still less do we want to clone human beings. That was never on our agenda; it is just what other people thought was important. Cloning for us is and has always been an exercise in science – finding out how cells work – and a technology that enables the genetic transformation of animals.’ So what exactly is a clone?, Ian Wilmut and Keith Campbell, The Second Creation, Headline, 2001

Replication is a side-show

Replication is a side-show - Victorian freak-show -

mermaids, bearded ladies; fascination, repugnance.

How we like to horrify ourselves, shock, outrage.

Such a technology - knowledge to pervert life’s

ancient, dreaming ways into an ultimate nightmare;

imitate Nature’s practices, rehearsed long centuries,

fussing over brittle limb mechanisms of one ant,

petal hinge broken by autumn wind, apple-seed.

Making it seem that God, though often overlooked,

or discounted, has been replaced - usurped by men,

whom we do not know if we should trust. And

why should we know? Science never being free

of morals; her directors are not invicible - wise

beyond challenge as history lays bare, whispers

caution. This glorious tinkering, aping Nature’s

ancient magic, is more than just making people

who look exactly like one another, like twins;

that is the simplistic hullabulloo, side-track -

the magician’s sleight of hand showing hankies,

while his sly hand hides watches, up his sleeve.

‘Argument against cloning – “The public belief that science acts in the interest of society is in crisis, according to a recent report of the House of Lords committee on Science and Society. And this finding accurately reflects the publication of the report by the Donaldson committee, which sanctions the first stage of human cloning. Electing to speculate on the "quick fix" approach, the government has foregone cutting-edge research that has shown the efficiency and ethical viability of using adults as an alternative source of stem cells. Instead, they have adopted the grossly simplistic and unsubstantiated position that the ethical objections are "outweighed by the potential benefits". The Donaldson committee's approach can be explained in simple terms. First, it has escaped public notice that the government has co-ownership of the patents required to exploit therapeutic cloning in the marketplace. Human beings should never be treated as a means to an end. Secondly, that scientists are set to export their research elsewhere if the government refuses to legalise therapeutic cloning. The government is being held to ransom by what the expert in genetics Dr Patrick Dixon refers to as "institutions" that "have the power to dictate terms to governments". But this approach may already have backfired. The recent announcement by the Roslin Institute that it is to abandon a £12.5m research project into the cloning of pig organs for human transplantation indicates that there is a real fear of public backlash within the corridors of power. Creating human beings as tiny stem cell generators, only to destroy them once their utility has been served, tramples on the critical ethical principle that human beings should never be treated as a means to an end.’ Kevin Dillon, Movement Against the Cloning of Humans, BBC, UK

‘The argument for human cloning - “Cloning is one of those words that delivers a lot less than it promises. Cloning is simply reproduction without sex. You are a clone, and so am I, descended in the most chaste fashion from a single fertilised egg by simple cell division. Every one of the millions of King Edward potatoes is one too, grown without sex by dividing one plant into two. There is also, of course, Dolly the sheep. That amazing animal that was cloned by inserting the genes of one sheep into the emptied egg of another, to give a perfectly normal lamb with no father but two mothers. All this is cloning but most people see the word only in terms of making identical copies not of sheep, but of humans. The government has given the go-ahead for a very limited form of the process, for copying cells, not people. This therapeutic cloning just might be the breakthrough that means that transplants of kidneys or hearts become a standard treatment, rather than exceptional events that depend on a matching donor becoming available. Even if that is not possible, there is already hope that such engineered stem cells could be used to make skin for burns victims, or brain cells for those suffering from Parkinson's disease. Every day, thousands of early embryos are thrown away from fertility clinics because, to have any chance of success, many more eggs are fertilised than are in the end replaced in a potential mother. The new law allows these small groups of cells to be used in the hope of treating the sick, rather than simply being discarded. I would expect that the parents of those tiny pieces of material would feel happier that they are used in this way than simply seeing them as gone for ever. It is worth remembering that half a century ago, even transplants of the cornea of the eye from a corpse to a blind person were not allowed on ethical grounds. Organ transplants are now a standard part of medicine. My guess is that 50 years from now, we will look back in as much amazement at the days when therapeutic cloning was seen as unethical, as we now do at the time when the blind stayed blind because society was not willing to follow where science was leading them.” Professor Steve Jones, University of London, BBC, UK

The shock of the freaky - as magical processes seem

when first glimpsed with eyes still savage to Nature;

still young in her fabric, jewels, as the flower, peacock,

spun recently from the old tools, needles, pins, threads.

And both interpretations, wonders and dangers, are true,

in all probability, both evinced by future circumstance -

who will want to weigh the scales; deny the sufferers

this revolutionary treatment, explain at their bedside -

but who will keep the shining new technology from fools,

darker hands; selfish instigators of warped interpretations.

‘The claim by a controversial company linked to a UFO sect that it has produced the world's first human baby clone has prompted calls for cloning to be outlawed in the United States. The chair of a leading American bioethics committee told the BBC the US should "come down very hard on people who want to cross this boundary between procreation and manufacture". US-based company Clonaid says it has produced a healthy cloned baby girl, nicknamed Eve by scientists, born by Caesarean section on Thursday to a 31-year-old US mother. Chairman of the US president's council on bioethics Leon Kass said that the practice was unethical and should be outlawed. Although the House of Representatives passed a bill to ban all cloning last year, the bill has not passed through the Senate and has not become law. “There's a good chance that this particular event or non-event might prompt our Congress to move and get some sort of legislation passed in this session," Mr Kass said. "The arguments... go beyond questions of concerns about safety and really add up to a deep and permanent objection to what these Raelians claim to have done," he told the BBC. "If this is the wave of the future then I don't want it." Earlier, a White House spokesman said that US President George W Bush had found the news "deeply troubling", adding that the news underscored the need for legislation to ban all human cloning in the US. Clonaid is linked to a sect called the Raelians, whose founder, Claude Vorihon describes himself as a prophet and calls himself Rael. The Raelians believe humans are the result of a genetic engineering project run by super intelligent extra-terrestrials. "This is a good step, but it's not the goal. The goal is to give human beings eternal life," said Rael. "Step two will be through the discovery of accelerated growth process, to be able from a cell from your body, to make an adult clone of yourself in a few hours with a special technology. Ultimately, we will create life in the laboratory, like it was done for us, on other planets, and the people who we'll create will look at us as gods, so this is an infinite cycle, if you like," he said. Clonaid has been racing against the Italian fertility doctor Severino Antinori to produce the first baby clone. Dr Antinori has claimed that one of his patients will give birth to a baby clone in January. Clonaid's has not so far put forward any proof for its claim and the location of the alleged birth has been kept secret. The DNA to be cloned was taken from the mother's skin cell, Clonaid said. The company says that independent scrutiny and DNA testing of mother and child would be allowed in "eight or nine days". But BBC science correspondent Richard Black says most scientists doubt Clonaid's ability to clone a human and their motives, pointing to the company's intention to charge around $200,000 for each cloned child.’ BBC, 2002

‘Should human cloning be banned?...The group which claimed the first birth of a cloned human last week has said a second such baby was born to a Dutch lesbian couple on Friday. Brigitte Boisselier, Chief executive of the US-based Clonaid organisation told a French news agency the child, a girl, weighed 2.7 kilograms (six pounds), but would not specify in which country the natural birth had taken place. Sceptical international scientists are still awaiting DNA proof that the first baby - a girl named Eve - is indeed an exact genetic match of her 31-year-old American mother. US President George W Bush has called on Congress to outlaw human cloning while French President Jacques Chirac described the development as "criminal and contrary to human dignity”.’ BBC News, 2003

Eve rewound

Eve rewound, but not returning to the garden;

dragged into light - uncertain if she was here

before, or if she’s all hype - ordinary, cursed,

she just feels alive; her cell story silent under

fresh leaves. Is she new winter masquerading

as spring; is there chill and death in her fingers

at the bone? Come as autumn - turned already

her youth - golden as her hair this mellow light

of life, so soon streaked with salmon, as the age

of her blood matures; like old wine in new skin.

‘British scientists say they have cloned the country's first human embryo - The Newcastle University team took eggs from 11 women, removed the genetic material and replaced it with DNA from embryonic stem cells. The aim of this kind of work - the subject of fierce debate - is to make cloned embryos from which stem cells can be used to treat diseases. Meanwhile South Korean scientists say they have created stem cells to match individuals for the first time.’ BBC, 2005

In May 2005, scientists at Newcastle University in the UK announced that they had managed to clone human embryos from adult cells, but had not yet established cell lines. There have also been reports of cloned bovine and murine embryonic stem cell lines being produced, but the technique appears to be far from routine…Although the idea of cloning to produce a baby has been met with widespread revulsion and condemnation, it is not banned in all countries. The efforts of some bioethicists to argue against a ban if safety concerns can be addressed are worrying. The safety issues are unlikely ever to be fully resolved. Allowing people to reproduce themselves through cloning would be a significant further step in regarding babies as accessories designed to meet parents’ wishes. This is likely to be presented as ‘choice’, further reducing human lives and citizenship to nothing more than a sophisticated shopping trip.’ Genewatch, 2006

I know I have been here before but I cannot remember

I know have been here before but I cannot remember.

My molecules have looked upon sun - this apple tree,

a million times before, when I was me in this garden.

Why can’t I remember; see in this photo how I am

spun from the same materials - to the same pattern,

but I am an orphan, imposter - old woman, ghoul -

masquerading as a child. I have been dead already -

but I can no more remember death than shining life;

help me rejoice in my eyes, the ‘I’ of me - that light.

Influx of clones

Nature’s genetic fabric would be weakened

by an influx of clones - like inbred families

producing imbeciles - thick royals, yapping

pretty-dogs in bows, all weak and wheezing.

Diseases would take better root in this perverted

soil - for has not Nature taken centuries to work

the dreaming cells - craft her creatures carefully;

each one designed to be as one - expertly mixed,

and thus made stronger and wiser, yet more beautiful

to the species’ flexible future. Just one letter missed -

or added to a single gene - even among three billion,

can result in sickness and deformity – death - despite

all Nature’s efforts to protect the living – life.

See how we have twisted our long relationship

with her and sun; our skin that makes vitamins

like genetic memories of photosyntheis - now

sickened by the very rays that make Earth live;

breathe. We are like clumsy toddlers, let loose

in a master craftsman’s shop with no security -

time, experiment; knowledge has loosened all

the locks, hidden chains. Now we have the key,

template to ourselves, to replicate by imitation -

in cosmic equivalence of fast food; junk humans

to order - all dangers hidden behind appearances.

‘Trying to clone a person to gain immortality would be a pointless venture. This whole debate about cloning is much ado about nothing because while you may be able to, as with twins, have someone who looks similar to you, the chances of them having the same personality and the same outcome in life is close to zero. That's why you can't have Xerox copies of people; you can't have clones of people that will be the same.’ Craig Venter, Head of Celera, private US Human Genome project

Who should be cloned?

Who should be cloned? Not presidents

and scientists, great politicians, artists;

sportsmen and heroes. But in testimony

to what life has taught us slowly through

centuries, we would choose those whom

we have so loved; before deciding not to.

I wanted to write a clone poem

I wanted to write a clone poem,

literary joke - funny but clever;

showing how the art of a person

cannot be repeated - any more

than the blood of a poem –

which might be transfused

in the manner of conventional

human reproduction - could be

used to make an identical work

beat to the same tune; generate

the same emotion, reaction -

given that the circumstances,

heart state of the reader would vary -

print-size, poet’s temperament; even

if the same words in the exact same order.

See how on old handwritten manuscripts,

genomic variation shifts;

annotations, alterations -

genome of the poem forming -

now invisible in this computer

poem; all corrections, changes

of word, mistakes, obliterated,

somewhere inaccessible to most

in the computer’s plastic mind -

never to be agonised over,

zapped into verbal ether -

never to be spoken, except maybe

tripping words during a readings -

type-setter’s, or proof-reader’s, error

as repeated mutation, spawned virus.

Imagine the poem ghosts swirling

among stars - discarded versions

too beautiful to lose, kept by the Universe,

read by wind, illuminated by sun and time;

kept fresh, though imperfect - poignant,

imperfect clones; the embryonic poems.

The clone of the poem is the thing -

every copy of a book, twin volume,

clone on physical clone - perfectly

similar; artistic, acceptable clones;

but the poem’s genome shifts as every genome,

it can never be written again, the original, final

version cloned; as this working out here

will be cloned in ‘The Human Genome:

Poems on the Book of Life’, so forever

trying to work out what cloning means.

Cloned Poem

This is an experiment in cloning -

can a poem be cloned in the same

volume; rather than as the reproduced

clone in every printed book produced

from original mother manuscript?

Yes, but the meaning of cloning

in the biological concept would not be

illuminated, thus, because the context

of the clone would be just the same -

so all the influences affecting human

genomes would not apply here -

in the environment of the book,

the manuscript’s original air would

still pertain - even for this clone -

because it too would be cloned exactly.

Yet, look, feel - here is a paper version,

the true mother; already the typed

manuscript emailed to a publisher

is a clone - first clone to be cloned.

This in my hand; scribbled, altered

poem genome, cannot be cloned -

will never be written just the same

ever again. What you read here - now,

is already the clone; non identical twin.

Cloned Poem

This is an experiment in cloning;

can poems be cloned within one

volume - rather than those reproduced

clones read in every book then printed

from the original mother manuscript?

Yes, but cloning’s meaning, expressed

biological concept, would not thus

be illustrated, because the clone’s

own circumstance would be the same -

so all factors affecting complex human

genomes would not then apply -

in the context of the copied book,

the manuscript’s original environment

would still pertain, even for fresh clones,

because it too would be cloned exactly;

though, look, touch - this paper version

is a true mother - already the typescript

emailed on Mercury wings to publisher

is a clone, primary clone to be cloned.

This in my hand, scrawled, annotated

poem genome, cannot be replicated -

will never again be written the same,

identical - that which you read, here,

is already a clone; non identical twin.

‘Central to therapeutic cloning are the "master" cells that exist in a human embryo when it is just a few days old. These embryonic stem (ES) cells are capable of developing into almost any kind of tissue in the body, including nerves, muscle, blood and bone. If these cells can be directed in the lab to become selected types of tissue, they could be used to treat a host of degenerative diseases which at present are incurable. And producing the embryos through a cloning step similar to the one used to make Dolly would ensure the transplant tissue suffered no rejection problems - it would be a perfect match for the patient. Although exciting developments are also being made with many other types of stem cell that are extractable from adults, many scientists believe only the ES cells will offer the full range of benefits they seek. Professor Ian Wilmut, the scientist who led the team that developed the cloning technology used to create Dolly, said: "In the end, this research to produce stem cells for therapy will lead to novel treatments for some conditions - such as Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injury, stroke and diabetes - that reflect damage to cells that aren't repaired or replaced. "There isn't an effective treatment for any of these conditions at the present time." However, "pro-life" groups and some churches denounced the panel's recommendations, arguing that therapeutic cloning was totally unacceptable - whatever the potential benefits. They said experimentation on embryos was an affront to the sanctity of human life. Peter Garrett, of Life, said: "What is being proposed here is that we deliberately create and then deliberately destroy tiny human lives. That's bad medicine and we should move away from it." Opponents also believe the acceptance of therapeutic cloning sets a dangerous precedent that will inevitably lead to so-called reproductive cloning - the creation of identical babies.’ BBC Science

‘At the same time as Dolly, too, we cloned Cedric, Cecil, Cyril and Tuppence from cultured embryo cells… who are genetically identical to each other and yet are very different in size and temperament, showing emphatically that an animal’s genes do not ‘determine’ every detail of its physique and personality. This is one of several reasons why ‘resurrection’ of lost loved ones, human or otherwise, is not feasible…However, mammals do practise asexual replication in a minor way; sometimes it happens ‘by accident’ but, in one case at least, as a matter of course. Thus an embryo sometimes divides in the womb to produce identical twins. Identical twins together form a clone; each is a clone of the other (though they are not, in this case, clones of the parent!).’ So what exactly is a clone?, Ian Wilmut, The Second Creation, Headline, 2001

Twins are not the same person

Twins are not the same person,

no matter how spookily close -

psychic connection, synchronisity;

shared identity is only skin deep -

same informative genes building,

but influenced; shifting, differing

in outcome - we should be exclaiming

at why they are not the same, identical.

What silent moulding affects the patterns

of the Genome - shapes the new garment.

‘Experts support human cloning UK scientists should be allowed to carry out a limited form of human cloning, an expert panel told the British Government on Wednesday. A final decision on the issue will be left to a free vote of MPs, but ministers have endorsed the recommendations put forward by the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) in England, Professor Liam Donaldson, and his advisory group. Researchers believe they can revolutionise medicine if they are allowed to apply to humans some of the technology pioneered in Dolly the sheep. However, so-called therapeutic cloning, which could result in cures for diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, is highly controversial as it requires experiments on early-stage embryos. Professor Donaldson and his advisory group have been examining the issues surrounding therapeutic cloning for almost a year. They told the government that the technology was worthy of investigation but should be carefully controlled. Professor Donaldson said: "The committee looked very carefully at the ethical issues and decided the potential benefits outweighed some of the concerns and would be justified by the potential benefits for future generations of patients." The panel recommended that: Approval be given for the use of early embryos to investigate the potential of new medical treatments All research proposals be scrutinised by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority Permission is only granted where it can be shown there are no other ways of meeting an experiment's objectives. Any research should be constantly monitored, both by the authority and the newly created Human Genetics Commission. Some of the steps in cloning should be used to help women who are at risk of passing on certain rare disorders (mitochondrial diseases) because of problems with their eggs. No cloning technology should be permitted where cell materials of humans and other animals are mixed. Cloning for the purpose of making a baby (so-called reproductive cloning) should remain illegal.’ BBC News

Consciousness hatches each time anew

Consciousness hatches each time anew,

fresh from life’s genetic egg - inspiring

sparkling neural nets, internal stars;

informing the Genome’s dreaming

mechanisms, intimate interactions -

spirit and chemistry bound in flesh.

There can be no cloning of the soul -

spirit replication, whatever it may be;

recognised by peasant and philosopher,

atheist, believer - agnostic and doctor -

whether wiring - metaphysical entity;

some mirror of unknowable divinity -

product of complex thought -

sparkling silver illusion born

of art; creative thinking, wish,

desire - it is experienced, real;

can never be repeated - churned

on a body production line; holy,

or scientific and natural miracle -

the mystery would not be solved.

‘In nine-banded armadillos the embryos invariably divide when they reach the four-cell stage, to produce a set of identical quads. Why nine-banded armadillos have evolved to give birth to identical quads has not been convincingly explained.’ So what exactly is a clone?, The Second Creation, Headline, 2001

Nine-banded Armadillo’s Poem

‘The thing about being a Nine-banded Armadillo is -

it’s hard to find your own children; there’s that many

look the same, and I’m damned if I can tell the difference

among my own four… Or my previous four… or the four

before that - you get the idea. I heard a creature saying

in the forest it’s because we’re thick, that otherwise we

couldn’t recognise our own offspring at all; you know,

it strengthens the message, reinforces the clue - ha, ha.

I’ll tell you something; we may not know why but, hey,

look at us, if there wasn’t something extra special about

us, do you think Evolution would have let us remain

just as we were, looking so old fashioned: preserved?’

‘Creatures like us do not generally replicate by cloning but the development of all multicellular creatures – including us – involves cloning. That is, each of us began life as a single-celled embryo – a zygote, produced initially by the fusion of egg with sperm. Then the zygote divided, and divided and divided again by a process of cells division very similar to the asexual reproduction practiced by protozoans. Each of our body cells, then, is a clone of all the other cells, and of the original zygote. All the cells of our body collectively form a clone.’ Ian Wilmut, Keith Campbell, Colin Tudge, The Second Creation: The Age of Biological Control, by  the scientists who cloned Dolly, Headline, 2001

We begin with fusion

We begin with fusion, before division; cloning

our cells in the dark laboratory, the Motherlab -

remembering our sexless roots; and multiplying,

copying, casting our own materials - unspooling

the Genome that it might be read; scripted clones

moulded to the genetic destiny written before life.

Walking Clone

Hey, catch this, I’m a walking clone - you too!

No jokin - all clones - pretty much protozoans;

asexual. Sex is just the starting pistol, firing

us into action, then the cells run for the line -

the race is on to realise, protect, express -

they are making and re-making themselves

to form us – internal replication, division.

Many from the original one: root zygote.  

‘In general, living things can be very broadly divided into those that keep their DNA neatly enclosed within a nucleus – and these are called ‘eukaryotes’ – and those in which the DNA is not so neatly enclosed, but is simply packaged in various ways within the body of the cells – and these are called ‘prokaryotes’. Eukaryotes include protozoans, seaweeds, plants, fungi and animals; prokaryotes include the creatures commonly known as ‘microbes’, which are the bacteria and the archaea. Most groups of creatures, both prokaryotic and eukaryotic, practise both asexual and sexual reprodution. Among prokaryotes, asexual reproduction – cloning – is the normal way to replicate, although bacteria do practise various forms of rudimenatary sex as well. All eukaryotes must at one time have been sexual – it is impossible to see how they could have evolved otherwise – but many have abandoned sex altogether.’ So what exactly is a clone?, Ian Wilmut and Keith Campbell, The Second Creation, Headline, 2001

‘Rudimentary Bacterial Sex’

I’m sure I’ve had some of that:

‘Rudimentary Bacterial Sex’ -

from that first stinking boyfriend,

when I was an idealistic flower -

bringing filthy cystitis; it hurts,

fucking skewers when you pee,

from someone else’s girlfriend,

(thick, ugly tart - a total tramp).

And the pain of the physical -

as nothing to my heart agony;

chest attack - thumping names

marking hours, whole nights -

no wonder many species

have just abandoned sex.

‘Cloning humans: Can it really be done? Claims by a controversial company linked to a UFO sect that it has produced the world's first cloned human baby have been greeted with scepticism and calls for the process to be outlawed. Our science editor, Dr David Whitehouse, answers some questions about cloning and whether the technology can be made to work in humans: Q. How would it be done? A. The model is Dolly the sheep and although the technology has been applied to several animals, it is still highly underdeveloped and the mechanisms involved are poorly understood. The scientists would remove the DNA from the nucleus of an egg cell taken from the mother. This DNA would then be replaced by the genetic material taken from one of the father's cells (or as in this case, the mother herself) - perhaps a skin cell. A trigger would be applied to the egg cell that would then make it start to divide like any normal embryo. The mother would have it implanted in her womb in a procedure which is routinely performed in IVF clinics. Q. So, what are the dangers? A. Experience with the five mammal species that have been cloned so far indicates that there would be almost no chance of success. The vast majority of pregnancies involving clones have gone very badly. In most of them, the clone has died and in almost all of them the lives of the mother and clone have been put at risk. In many cases, the clone grows abnormally large, often threatening to tear the womb that can also become swollen with fluid. Almost all clone pregnancies spontaneously abort. Dolly the sheep, the first mammal clone, was the one success in 247 pregnancies. If a human clone is produced, the cost in human suffering and the trail of failures will be large. Q. What if a human clone is born? A. Of the small number (little more than 1%) of animal clones that make it to term, most have severe abnormalities: malfunctioning livers, abnormal blood vessels and heart problems, underdeveloped lungs, diabetes, immune system deficiencies and possibly hidden genetic defects. Several cow clones had head deformities - none survived very long. It would be fair to say that experts are amazed in the few instances that cloning has worked… Q. Would the child be an exact copy of the genetic parent? A. Not if the donor genetic material comes from a man or from another woman. On the genetic level, the clone would be 99.9% identical to its parent, but it would not be a complete copy because there are some important genes that would be contributed by the egg donor. These genes reside outside the nucleus. Also, the clone would be subject to different environmental factors and a different upbringing to his/her genetic parent. This could result in a changed appearance and personality. If the recent research on the human genome has taught us anything, it is that we are far more than just our genes…But remember, all of this is quite separate to therapeutic cloning. This is a more limited use of the Dolly technology to obtain important cells which could yield novel therapies for degenerative diseases.’ BBC Science, 2002

The printing press is altered

The printing press is altered; poems printed

with random faults, typos, syllables askew -

messages broken from their rightful shell -

something of the master’s hand, the author,

composer, lost; in the mysterious mechanisms,

chemistries, historical connections of X and Y,

sublime practise of Evolution’s art. Elaborate

principles of co-operation, opposition, identity,

de-grammared, stirred, agitated at the wrong time;

made incorrect - blue leaves filled with red blood.

Nature loves everything alive

The art of Nature does not love a cloned animal,

outside of her gallery, laboratory years, training;

but she herself - as symbol of life, force, energy -

will love anything that is, that comes alive, exists.

Will strive to make everything better for the creature -

part of her dutiful function, like the necessity of death.

My own poetry

I am not paper written with my spells and charms,

my own poetry from the book of life - that can be

photocopied, cloned; the poem is written once,

and read but once by life, out loud to the green

world. And if you took Keats’s shining poetic genes,

from his fingerprint on a manuscript, lock of his hair;

cloned his DNA, grew him, returned him with quill

and paper to his room - he would never again write

Ode to a Nighingale’; it can never be written again.

And if he wrote ‘Ode to a Skylark’ - Eagle, Curlew,

they would not be from the hand of John Keats, poet,

born 1795, but a new human being - perhaps without

the mysterious gift of words scientists are now guddling

for among the Genome’s dark, sparkling, fantastic water;

panning for consciousness, talent, genius, like children

after trout - finding nuggets and Fool’s Gold both. Still

hunting for beauty’s bright nucleus - her shining chemical

spores, particular energy; spun like effulgent silver threads

into the heart and words of John Keats - surviving centuries,

death of the host; like snatching at water, touching rainbows,

catching sunbeams basking in shifting sea, metamorphosing

agonisingly, over four billion years, into shoals of silver fish.

‘Designing babies: The future of genetics - The power to change the shape and destiny of the human species - to design babies to order - will be within the grasp of genetic scientists in just a couple of decades, the BBC's science programme Horizon predicts. The programme outlines how science, and the ethical laws constraining it, already permit human embryos to be scanned for a variety of recognised genetic disorders. This can then prevent seriously ill children being born into often short and painful lives…. But in the Brave New World predicted by Horizon, scientists will do more than screen for disease-free embryos. They will be able to add characteristics to a newly-fertilised embryo, eliminate 'undesirable' characteristics - or both. Genetic engineering is already being carried out successfully on non-human animals… If human babies are ever to be engineered, the process would have to become far more efficient as no technique which involves the birth of several severely defective human beings to create one 'super being' is ever likely to get the go-ahead. Cloning may well provide an answer to the problems presented by the inefficiency of injecting genes into embryos, say the scientists interviewed by Horizon.’ BBC, 2000

‘.. it would in principle be possible to make true clones even by nuclear transfer. We might, for example, transfer a body cell from a ewe into oocyte cytoplasm from the same ewe. That way, the offspring would contain a clone both of the ‘clone mother’s DNA and of her cytoplasm. This would be a form of artifical mammalian parthenogenesis – a method that could, if applied to humans, realise the ultra-feminist goal of the self-replicating female (although the ‘self’ would have to be aided by attendant scientits and clinicians). These are niceties, but they could be significant niceties.’ Ian Wilmut and Keith Campbell, The Second Creation, Headline, 2001

‘Q&A: Who wants to clone a human embryo and why? Professor Ian Wilmut, head of the team that created Dolly the sheep, and Professor Christopher Shaw, of the department of neurology at King's College London, have been granted a licence to clone human embryos for medical research into motor neurone disease (MND). Who gave them the permission? The application was approved by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. Britain does not allow reproductive cloning - creating a human baby with donor DNA - but is more sympathetic to the therapeutic cloning for medical purposes proposed by Prof Wilmut of the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh. In August last year, it gave scientists from the University of Newcastle the green light to clone human embryos. Their research - which aims to treat a host of incurable diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and diabetes - nevertheless provoked fury from anti-abortion groups. What are their concerns? From the anti-abortion viewpoint, an embryo is a human life from the first moment of its existence and it is unjustifiable to create a human life in order to experiment on it. Cloning is controversial in the United States, where the House of Representatives voted for a total ban. When the Pope visited George Bush in 2001, he told the US president that the scientific procedure was as evil as infanticide. Washington is pushing for a United Nations ban on all cloning, while other nations, led by Britain, are leading the call to allow cloning for medical experiments. Proponents argue such research will allow lives to be saved.’ Guardian newspaper, UK, 2005

‘What is happening? - Scientific progress on stem cell cloning - the manufacture of human "mother" cells that could be grown into nerves, muscles, bone and organs - is moving at a fast pace. In the latest developments, the first British team to be given a licence to conduct the research has produced Europe's first cloned embryo.’ Guardian Unlimited, 2005

Drawing the Line

Why we must think, contend, contemplate, try to learn,

is that there is no chart on the hospital - or laboratory -

wall with a line that says: ‘HERE’ is the point at which

life is not worth living; not this pain, mutation, disease,

disfigurement - and ‘HERE’, the ridiculous point where

interference is selfish - to make leaner stork-thighs, or a

more rounded butt, luxurious hair - like these grotesque

new operations on vaginal lips to get an airbrushed porn

star’s fanny - when children are dying or blind for want

of 20p - now natural bosoms swing, seeming like an old

fat sow’s compared to two absurd little blisters, perched,

unnatural perfect spheres, high and dry; such silly, living

cartoons, horrible parody of real breasts - one of Nature’s

most lovely, artful, pleasing; clever, erotic, beautiful, soft,

comforting, clever and maternal, best signature inventions.

When women inject poison into their faces - regardless

of the longer story; when smiling might become extinct.

When youth is hunted like rainbow gold - Atlantis, elixir,

Philosopher’s Stone; despite being given only once, ever,

to the young - never truly known, appreciated until gone -

that is its poignant, unalterable nature. And anyway, youth

is not all it’s cracked up to be, as you realise once older –

in fact, apart from the being young, being young is rubbish;

feeling insecure, pressurised, unconfident - so full of exams.

And who will guide us if not ourselves - who will decide,

in this messy scheme of things, if not us, all, collectively -

choose as well as we can from this particular viewpoint in

time; our perspective, circumstances. I don’t believe a great

divine hand comes down, points like the Lottery ad - Sistine

Chapel - can tell us what to do - for thus freedom would fall.

We are equipped - we think, discuss, decide, care for others;

have compassion, sympathy, empathy – so many intellectual

and emotional tools, so much experience – all terrible errors,

wrongs of history; all joys and progress. And change is now

upon us, is always with us, but now so charged - momentous,

full of such enormous implications; and big changes need big

thoughts. The Genome is a multiform key - to so many doors,

opportunities, consequences; opening such light and darkness.

‘However, the most dramatic development was in cloned human embryonic stem cells. In May, South Korean researchers had a paper published documenting how they had produced individualised human embryonic stem cell lines, raising hopes of new treatments for degenerative diseases. Later it was revealed that women researchers on the team had been paid to donate eggs and, in December, that the lead scientist, Woo-Suk Hwang, had fabricated the evidence, sending shock waves through the stem cell community.’ Genewatch, 2006

‘The leading scientific journal Nature argued yesterday for increased safeguards for future cloning papers, in response to the scandal surrounding Woo Suk Hwang's faked cloning research. Dr Hwang admitted last week he had faked much of his research on human cloning. The South Korean had been the world leader in the field, having cloned the first human embryo and established the first patient specific stem cell lines.’ Guardian newspaper, UK, 2006

Note from the author
exploring the project

    Gene Story
    Romantic Science
    Some Special Genes
        The Art of Cloning
        Hello Dolly
        The World’s First
        Celebrity Sheep
        Human Cloning
        Nature & Nurture
    X & Y

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