Human cloning has always been a touchy issue for many, with its multitude of ethical implications. Sir John Gurdon, however, believes that people will be able to overcome their worries about this technology in the near future if the technique (whether therapeutic cloning to create tissues and organs or reproductive cloning to produce offspring) becomes medically useful, with human cloning becoming a reality within 50 years.
In the 60s, Gurdon worked on cloning frogs and his research helped in the successful cloning of Dolly the sheep in 1996. In 2012, he was awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.
With animals, there is less resistance to the idea of making clones. Usually, though, successful cloning is achieved with animals that have well-understood biology, such as cats, dogs, sheep, and cows. Several endangered animals have also been cloned successfully, as well as some extinct ones such as the wild ox (gaur), wild cattle (banteng), and mountain goat (Pyrenean ibex). Brazil is also planning to clone several of the country’s endangered species while researchers have taken and cryogenically frozen tissues from Lonesome George, the last Pinta Island Giant Tortoise, soon after his death, in the hopes of cloning him in the future.
In his interview with BBC Radio 4, Gurdon compared the stigma about human cloning with how people reacted about in-vitro fertilization and how perception changed after the birth of the first test tube baby Louise Brown. In the past, people looked at IVF negatively but nowadays it is already widely accepted.
You can listen to the whole interview with BBC Radio 4 here.