The Observer view on cloning | Observer editorial

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Pictures of the first two cloned primates have caused deep unease. But the idea of making exact copies of deceased humans remains a delusion

With their huge eyes and spindly limbs, the two cloned macaque monkeys, whose births in China were announced last week, made irresistible front page fodder. Created by scientists at the Institute of Neuroscience in Shanghai, the animals, Hua Hua and Zhong Zhong, certainly looked cute. Cuddled together, they displayed an almost human vulnerability, a connection that was not lost on headline writers: “One Step Closer to Human Clones,” claimed one front page.

It is only 21 years since the Observer revealed to the world that scientists in Scotland had created the world’s first mammalian clone, Dolly the sheep. Now this triumph has been followed up with a pair of cloned macaques, creatures that are much closer to Homo sapiens in genetic terms than sheep. The suggestion that a similar trick would soon be carried out on humans was therefore too tempting to ignore.

The Observer is the world’s oldest Sunday newspaper, founded in 1791. It is published by Guardian News & Media and is editorially independent.

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