Cloning
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Cloning, quite simply, is the process of creating a genetically identical copy of an individual life form. Although there are other factors which may affect the clone's physical appearance or phenotype, in general a clone will be identical on a genetic level to the organism it was cloned from, as well as any subsequent clones derieved from either its parent organism or itself. Naturally, cloning is regarded as a biotechnology.

History

As a human technology, cloning on a significant scale only really came out of its experimental stages in the late 27th century. However, humanity has been experimenting with cloning on a genetic level as far back as the 21st century, although these experiments were incredibly crude and ineffcient forms of modern cloning technologies. Many other species have experimented with cloning technologies, several doing so long before humanity. Given the variable gestation periods of the galaxy's many species, cloning became a far more useful technology early on for some species. Regardless, both in modern times, and historically, cloning can be split into two distinct methods:

In Vivo Cloning: For complex organisms, early cloning typically required clones to be placed in a living female to gestate, or within a viable egg for oviparous species, and had an extremely low success rate. Understandably, this process was impractical for cloning anything on a large scale, and was largely considered somewhat unethical in the case of human cloning for several centuries. This cloning technology is still in use to a small degree in modern times in conjunction with genetic manipulation. For species with short gestation periods or oviparous reproduction, this technology presents more use than it does to viviparous species with long gestation periods.

In Vitro/Vat Cloning: Vat cloning was the single largest step forward in cloning in history, and came into play around the 2970s for humanity, but was discovered independently by several other species. It has been used ever since with the only improvements focusing on increasing the success rate and speed of the process. In basic terms, vat cloning involves the growth of clones in vitro, i.e. in an artificial environment, often with a greatly accelerated gestation period and growth rate. The obvious benefit of this method is that it allows the production of vast numbers of clones all taken from only handful of genetic progenitors, while affording an unprecedented level of control over development. There are many stigmas regarding this technology, and while some races make heavy use of it, an equally large number condemn its use on ethical grounds.

Cloning and Humanity

Cloning is a technology heavily associated with humanity. Although, they are not the only race to make use of it, they do make use of it much more heavily than some other races; perhaps due to the relatively slow breeding rate and gestation period of humans compared to other species. A notable example would be the Confederation of Outlying Systems which makes heavy use of vat cloning and the artificial gestation technologies associated with it.

Views on clones in society vary depending on location in the Terran Sphere. Some factions may outlaw cloning completely, some may make heavy use of clones in the military, while others may completely embrace vat cloning, prefering the extensive genetic modification opportunities that it offers.