This article deals with ‘Cloning – UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘Science and Technology’, an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.

What is Clone?

  • A clone is either an organism or a cell produced asexually from an ancestor.
  • A cloned cell is genetically & physically identical to its ancestor.
  • British biologist JBD Haldane in 1963, theorized for the first time that it would be possible to produce genetic duplicates from all living organisms if a living cell from any part of the organism is available. 

Dolly Sheep Cloning Experiment

  • In 1997, Ian Wilmut and his team at Scotland’s Roslin Institute successfully cloned a sheep from the mammary glands of an adult female.
  • In the process, Scientists chose three sheep: Molly, Polly and Holly
Polly (Black face) They removed genetic material from her egg cell. Hence, the egg was acting as an empty vessel.
Molly (White face) Genetic material was extracted out of Molly’s cells and planted in Polly’s empty egg cell, creating an embryo. 
Holly The embryo was planted in Holly’s womb. Thus, Holly became a surrogate mother.


White-faced sheep named Dolly was born from the womb of Holly. But Dolly was a clone of Molly as its DNA was exactly the same as that of Molly. 


Type of Cloning

1. Molecular Cloning

  • It is the process of making multiple molecules.
  • It is widely used in biological experiments & practical applications ranging from genetic fingerprinting to large-scale protein production.

2. Animal Cloning

  • Discussed above

3. Human Cloning

Human cloning is further of two types

3.1 Reproductive Cloning

  • It involves delivering a baby by transferring the nucleus of an adult human cell to an enucleated human egg cell & allowing the manipulated egg cell to grow normally in the uterus of a surrogate mother.

3.2 Therapeutic Cloning

  • It involves using stem cells from the cloned human embryo to produce human organs & replacement tissues for medical purposes.
  • The organ thus produced contains the DNA of a sick person. Hence chances of organ rejection, in this case, are almost none. Along with that, the patient does not require to take immunosuppressant drugs for the remaining life, which is currently required during transplants.
  • Apart from that, it can help to understand the cause of genetic diseases and the process of cancer formation.

Positive effects of Cloning

  • Cloning can help as a backup system for human beings as vital organs like the heart, liver, kidneys etc., can be cloned.
  • It can help to produce plants and cells with favorable traits to be produced at a mass scale. 
  • It also aids in stem cell research.
  • Animal cloning has an application in saving endangered species. E.g., Chinese scientists successfully cloned Wild Arctic Fox, an endangered species native to Canada’s Queen Elizabeth Island, in an effort to save it from getting extinct.

Ethical Issues

  • Reproductive cloning can undermine respect for human life.
  • It may destroy social institutions like family, marriage etc.
  • It may lead to the loss of genetic diversity among humans.
  • Nations can raise cloned armies to fight against their enemies.
  • Clones may be used for slavery, which may constitute the sub-human race. 
  • Religious bodies also object to human cloning as interference in godly affairs.

Current Law

India Human cloning for reproductive purposes is banned.
UK In 2001, the UK became the first country to legalise Therapeutic Cloning.
United Nations UNGA has adopted a non-binding UN declaration on human cloning, calling for a ban on all forms of human cloning contrary to human dignity in March 2005.
USA Currently, there is no federal law to ban cloning completely. But 12 states have banned reproductive cloning & 3 states prohibit the use of public funds for this purpose.

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