Cloning is getting too many people upset.
Reincarnating a cow, a cat or Catholic priest is possible--but what you get, in the latter two, may be very costly and disappointing. The biology and psychology of cloning needs to be objectively examined.
Cloning of higher life forms, mammals, has recently become possible. It is a major scientific accomplishment, but the clone itself has been overlooked as we react to the economic, moral and religious issues.
"Gene" was the first cloned calf. He was not a new life created, he was an existing life extended. The benefit of this technology with regard to the livestock industry is a superior individual that can be moved forward indefinitely by cloning. Frozen semen can extend a bull's line by 50 years, so cloning cows is more likely to be the means by which a superior individual can mother more calves to improve the breed.
The next two levels up are pets and people. Here is where we cross the line from economics to emotion. Cloning a pet or a human also means we have extended the identical genetics by a generation, but pets and some people have personalities. We can't clone personality traits. They have to develop by exposure to the environment.
Since cloning clinics can't resist the money offered by rich pet owners, we soon will find out how much of a dog's personality is genetically predisposed. I suspect that quite a lot of the donor's instinctive behavior and intelligence will be exhibited by the clone. The owner probably will duplicate the surroundings, teaching and care, so they finally can have a dog that never dies.
Since fertility clinics can't resist the money offered by rich people wishing to recreate themselves, we will get the chance to see if a cloned human parallels the original. I doubt that very little of the previous individual will come through in the personality of the clone, because of man's unique quality of "self determination," or in the vernacular of the teenager: "rebellion against the institution.
"If we try to duplicate the teachings and personalities of the donor's parent(s) and recreate the social structure of a donor's formative years, the devious intellect of the child probably will spiral the clone into social situations that will change him rapidly and irreversibly from his predecessor.
Let's say we clone former President John F. Kennedy. Put JFK2 into the uterus of a Hispanic woman and let him be raised in the resulting surroundings until he reaches age 21. What will he be then and what will he become?
It is unknown, but barring physical injury or malnutrition, he will be the spittin' image of the dead President, yet likely be an entirely different person. He will be Catholic, but won't have any inborn desire to run for Congress or put a man on the moon. He might have the desire to advance the cause of minorities, but only because of his upbringing. I thought of cloning Jane Fonda and having Rush Limbaugh and his wife raise her!
Cloning farm animals makes sense, because breeders only care about genetic traits that translate into more meat or more milk. It is even possible to remove DNA from the carcass of a steer on the packing plant rail and back it up to a bull walking the pasture. The cloning of pigs may lead to a 5-month-old boar becoming the donor of your next heart. A herd of genetically altered and cloned cows and goats could produce pharmaceuticals for improving human or animal health.
I think cloning pets is the ultimate manifestation of a rich person's stupidity. The attachment to a pet is strictly emotional and those people who take Fluffy to the cloning clinic should stop by the people psychologist on the way.
Unless you are a breeder trying to develop a super dog to improve the quality of our lives, don't fork over $50,000 for a duplicate. Cloning an extinct species, same story. The wooly mammoth elephant would be a sight to see, but serve no purpose other than setting back evolution.
As far as cloning people goes, from extending a childless individual to immortalizing a President, scientist or athlete, I say this: There is no moral reason for which we should oppose human cloning and there is no emotional reason for which we should attempt it. Science brought us here and science will take us forward.