View all news

Cloning or sex - which is best?

Press release issued: 27 March 2002

Cloning or sex - which is best?

Should decisions on cloning be based on what we know of animal evolution rather than on value judgements?

The British Section of the Society of Protozoologists is exploring the topic of the evolution of sex for its annual conference next week - and it could not be more timely, says one of the organisers, Dr Harriet Jones, of the University of East Anglia's School of Biological Sciences.

"Single-celled creatures - protozoa - hold the key to the discussion of whether or not we should allow cloning. They were the first and simplest animals, capable of cloning themselves or having sex," she said.

"But we have to ask ourselves why sex evolved and why they didn't all just continue to clone themselves. One answer is because of the dangers of replicating genes when there are mutations or damage."

We should not be simply making a value judgement on whether cloning was 'good' or 'bad', but should look at the scientific reasons why sex evolved and why beings adopted this different means of reproduction, she added.

The conference, at the University of Bristol, will also be discussing diseases such as malaria and sleeping sickness - both caused by parasitic protozoa.

"In order to know how best to control these diseases, we need to understand that these protozoan parasites can reproduce sexually and so, for example, transfer genes for resistance to commonly used drugs. This means that drug resistance can spread rapidly between different strains. Effective control strategies need to take this on board."

The annual meeting of the British Section of the Society of Protozoologists is at the University of Bristol from April 4-6.

Back to archive

Copyright: 2001 The University of Bristol, UK
Updated: Wednesday, 27-Mar-2002 13:20:17 GMT

Edit this page