Scientists Disagree on Length of Time Until Human Cloning

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 22, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Scientists Disagree on Length of Time Until Human Cloning Email this article
Printer friendly page

by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 22, 2005

Seoul, South Korea ( — Scientists have already cloned human embryos to destroys for their stem cells, but researchers disagree about how long until the day comes that human beings will be cloned for reproductive purposes.

Park Se-pill, head of the Seoul-based stem cell research institute Maria Biotech, yesterday told The Korea Times that human cloning could only be a year away.

"Give me your somatic cell today and I will give you a clone in a year, given there are no ethical concerns," he said.

Park, who removed stem cells from human embryos in 2000 in his research, disagrees with human cloning scientist Hwang Woo-suk, a Seoul National University professor.

Hwang, who made headlines by becoming the first to clone and kill days old unborn children for stem cells, said at a scientific conference earlier this month that "I don’t think we will have any chance to meet a cloned human being within the next 100 years, at least."

"Cloning a human being is nonsense. Briefly, it is not ethical, it is not safe at all, and it’s technically impossible," Hwang said.

"Even if some rogue scientists attempt it (reproductive cloning research), we will not be able to produce a human clone for at least another century," he added.

Park told the Korean newspaper that Hwang only made the comment to draw opposition away from his cloning-based research.

"As an individual, I respect Hwang very much. But as a scientist, I should be frank. Reproductive human cloning is definitely possible at the moment," Park told the Korean newspaper.

University of Ulsan professor Koo Young-mo agreed with Park that Hwang’s statement is misleading.

"Hwang misinformed the people on the issue. He should not rationalize his research under the name of science," he told the Times.

Other scientists are divided on whether human cloning is possible anytime soon.

Suncheon National University professor Kong Il-keun, who cloned six cats last summer, said making a human clone will be difficult but said it would not take 100 years.

"I can guess why Hwang said that. He wants to continue his therapeutic cloning research without criticism, and to do so he had to exaggerate," he said.

But, Jinju (Chinju) National University professor Park Hee-sung, who cloned a goat this month, agreed with Hwang that it could take "longer than 100 years" to clone a human being.