Cloning: Opening a Pandora's Box

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Cloning: Opening a Pandora's Box

What Dolly is to biology can be likened to what nuclear bomb is to physics. And just like the latter, Dolly brings with it a host of controversies. Dolly redefined nature the same way Fat Man and Little Boy redefined warfare in 1945. The impact to the human civilisation is what makes both Dolly and nuclear physics so great, and controversial. It needs not take long for everyone to realise the Pandora's box that Dolly has pried open, even for someone who knows nothing about biology like myself.

Suddenly, terms like clones, DNA, biotech, life sciences and genes amongst many other similar, once alien, terminologies seemed to appear everywhere; in books, magazines, newspapers and television programmes. Soon thereafter, there were protests, debates and even legislations passed to restrict scientists/biologists/geneticists in their researches. Just what are the reasons behind the world's infatuation over a sheep?

Dolly would not be conceived in nature-it is man-made, it is artificial and yet, it is real. Man had just promoted himself to be Dolly's God. And being a mammal, Dolly opens up questions faster than anyone could possibly answer. The ability to create genetically identical mammals, including humans, is the crux of the controversy revolving Dolly. Like nuclear physics, Dolly is a double-edged sword. We have heard often enough the pros and cons of genetic-engineering techniques that are improved over time. But really, what are all these talks about ethics, rights and law going to amount to?

The fact is that man is an inquisitive animal, an intelligent one at that. We have come to understand the change from day to night, we have sent man onto the moon, we have created enough nuclear bombs to blow up the very planet we live in 20 times over and we are inching towards unravelling and deciphering God's instructions manual in the very near future. In my humble opinion, nothing is going to stop the force of man's curious mind, not laws and definitely not ethical considerations. Already, one Italian scientist, Dr. Severino Antinori, had openly claimed that he had successfully implanted a cloned human embryo into a human surrogate mother(1) .

The implications of Dolly's success are way beyond the medical realm. Commercially, Dolly sparked an explosion of new frontiers for those with an entrepreneurial mind. You want to slim down? We can take out your "fatty genes." You want to have blond hair?

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