Back in the 80s and 90s, the futuristic concept of human cloning sounded like a dream out of The Jetsons. However, in the late 1990s, some scientists began to spook the world with their advancements… and some terrified European countries worked to shut any potential human cloning down.

Ah, the terrifying science of the 90s

Ah, the scientific advancements of the 1990s. Nothing not to love about the World Wide Web, The Hubble Space Telescope, and the first batch of crummy cell phones, right? Well, there was one breakthrough that didn’t quite sit right with many, and it certainly created a divide in the scientific community. Roslin Institute/Creative Commons

The concept of duplicating animals became a reality in 1996 when Dolly the sheep was born in Scotland at The Roslin Institute via an adult somatic cell. In other words, Dolly was an artificial sheep-clone. Pretty cool, huh? Well, not everyone thought so, especially when doctors and scientists began to entertain the idea of cloning entire human babies. While this may sound sort of epic in terms of evolution, most questioned the morals in duplicating human beings.

So, what about the ethics?

When Harvard Physicist Richard Seed riled up a conversation about starting a baby-cloning clinic (and bragged about it to everyone), the U.S. was quick to hop on the operation and shut it down. In fact, President Bill Clinton announced a five-year ban on any human cloning experiments, pissing off dr. Seed, yet settling the minds of many Americans. But what was the uproar all about?

Fine Art America/Bluestone/Science Photo Library

Well, a ton of scientists agreed that the ethics surrounding artificially cloning humans was pretty skewed. Besides screwing with natural biology, it would strip away the dignity of individual human beings. Also, it was a definite safety issue. Cloning wasn’t a perfected science, and clones could come out genetically mutated and half-baked. Taking all this into consideration (as well as their creepy, prize sheep Dolly), a number of European countries in the 1990s worked to ban cloning.

Yeah, let’s go ahead and ban this crap

On January 12th, 1998, 19 out of 40 states in the Council of Europe sent representatives to Paris to sign a major ban against human cloning. Surprisingly, Britain sat the ceremony out, deciding that it might be kind of awesome to give the spooky, futuristic practice a try. But while the UK was down to experiment, a number of other concerned countries decided to put a stop to it, including Finland, Greece, Norway, Spain, and Switzerland.


This ban also included patching up any loopholes that curious scientists might find to practice cloning anyway, such as crushing the possibility of using the cells of deceased individuals for experiments. I mean, resurrecting the dead to make clones is pretty creepy anyway, right? And while other countries continued to mess with cloning science, hey… at least those 19 countries didn’t have it on their conscience!