A Californian research team at the Stemagen Corporation Lab in La Jolla announced on January 17th that in an effort to create individual stem cells lines they have cloned a volunteer using nuclear transfer a technique that involves the removal of the nucleus from an adult cell and transferring it into a donated egg cell. After mild coaxing the embryo will begin to develop and stem cells with an exact DNA match to the person needing them can be harvested. Stem cells without genetic differences to their recipients are intended to have the benefit of increased efficiency of stem cell therapy, and far less chance of rejection of the cells. However no stem cell lines have been able to be derived through this method as of yet. This is the first documented cloning of a human embryo from nuclear transfer according to the researchers. This method of creating stem cells is controversial because it involves the creation and destruction of human embryo's. The issue of human cloning is likely to bring up more ethical issues. The cloned embryo created by this research team were destroyed in the process of verifying that it was indeed a true clone.
Personally, I am tired of subjectivities playing such a large role in the ethics of research. Certainly carefully examining the ethical questions surrounding research is of vital importance. However in cases like these where ethics is almost purely derived from personal subjectivities, it can be incredibly harmful to the research process.
Many see the creation and destruction of embryo's as "playing god." However one must pose the question whether we are "playing god" whenever we choose to not clone a human. Potentially we could be cloning individuals everyday, but we choose not to. All of those lives that could have been are now never going to see the light of day because of the decision that we make to not continually clone.
A human embryo is no more "human" than a seed of an oak tree. At the early stages of embryo it can be more easily compared to a collection of organic molecules being manipulated by a genetic code.