The Cloning Dilemma

The Cloning Dilemma

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The Cloning Dilemma



Cloning is one of the most widely talked about topics in this world. It is one topic that evokes a great public response worldwide. The defenders of cloning believe that cloning and genetic engineering will be the answer to most of the diseases in the future. On the other hand, the people against cloning view it as ‘ playing God ’. Cloning is unethical because people will lose their identities if their clones come into this world. We are taking nature into our own hands by cloning animals or humans.

Cloning is the process of creating a cell, tissue line or even a complete organism from a single cell. The concept of cloning was introduced in 1903, and plants were the first living organisms to be cloned. Other examples of clones are trees sending up runners, worms dividing into smaller worms, populations of genetically identical bacteria and cells dividing into tissue. The word clone actually comes from the Greek root for “ twig ” ( klon ).

Human cloning is a prospect no longer left to the fantastic realm of science fiction novels; rather it is a modern possibility. In 1997, embryologists in Scotland cloned the first mammal, a sheep named Dolly. Shortly thereafter, scientists in the United States cloned a set of monkeys.

There are many advantages and disadvantages of cloning and a lot of ethical issues related to it. The entire realm of biotechnology is fraught with dangers and problems that require careful study and democratic debate of key ethical issues. In an era where everything depends on technology and where life can be created and redesigned in a Petri dish and genetic codes can be edited like a digital text, the distinction between ‘ natural ’ and ‘ artificial ’ have become very complex.

The defenders of biotechnology extol its potential to increase food production and quality and to cure diseases and prolong human life. Its critics, on the other hand, claim that genetic engineering of food would produce “ Frankenfoods ” (Best and Kellner 440) that would pollute

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the food supply with potentially harmful products; that biotechnology-out-of-control could devastate the environment, biodiversity and human life itself; that animal and human cloning would breed monstrosities; that a dangerous new eugenics is on the horizon; and that the manipulation of embryonic stem cells would violate the principle of respect for life and would destroy a bona fide ‘human being’.

Animals are already exploited enough in slaughter houses, laboratories and factory farms and they should be spared cloning and other experiments used in genetic engineering. Also some of these experiments have introduced new diseases in the human population.

In the article, “ Biotechnology, Ethics and the Politics of Cloning ”, Best and Kellner talk about the increase in the number of cloned animals. “ With the number of cloned animals increasing, human beings, knowingly or unknowingly, are eating a lot of these cloned animals. The future to come seems to be one of cloned humans eating cloned animals ” ( Best and Kellner 445 ).

The pain and sufferings of animals are not cared about and they are made the scapegoats of many experiments. Potential physical concerns of cloning animals are low success rates, problems with gestation and delivery, concerns about fetal anomalies, and worries over increased vulnerability of clones to aging, disease, or disability. Deeper philosophical issues require consideration, such as the acceptability and implications of altering the genetic makeup of animals, especially in a world dominated by humans, as do practical concerns that efforts to create "ideal" animals will diminish genetic diversity ( with implications for hardiness and disease resistance ), more rapidly, than will the selective breeding practices already in use .

The risks that surround animal cloning suddenly seem to take on greater significance when human reproductive cloning is suggested. The potential that human cloning also might result in low success rates, gestational problems, and long-term health concerns or shortened life spans for the cloned offspring are troubling to many. Objections to research or reproductive efforts using cloned cells may assert that human life begins at the moment of conception (by whatever means that occurs), is worthy of respect, and should not be used in ways that contain the potential for waste, destruction, or unnecessary creation of, or harm to, cells with human potential. Other ethical or theological issues involve objections to changing the fundamental nature of the human race, viewed by some as God's creation; opposition to separating the creation of persons from the procreative relationship; misgivings about furthering the sense that children may be designed for our own purposes, rather than received as gifts born for their own purposes; concerns about the potential loss of individuality or the clone-born person's inability to live an authentic life or to have an open future; worries about preventing cloning of persons without their consent; the potential for discriminatory treatment or overly explicit expectations of clone-born persons ( or animals ); and the need either to establish or to prevent limits on reproductive freedom.

These scientific advancements and the ethical dilemmas they pose quickly grabbed the attention of the President, Congress and the American public. In the article, “ US Deliberates On Embryonic Stem Cells, Cloning ”, Fox quotes President Bush with his views on cloning. President Bush says that he strongly opposes cloning. He also supports the view that human cloning be banned. In yet another statement on cloning, he also pointed out that he " strongly approves of the development of cell- and tissue-based therapies based on research involving the use of nuclear transfer or other cloning techniques to produce molecules, DNA, cells other than human embryos, tissues, organs, plants, or animals other than humans " ( Fox 791 ).

Reproductive cloning is expensive and highly inefficient. More than ninety percent of cloning attempts fail to produce viable offspring. It can take more than hundred nuclear transfer procedures to produce one viable clone. In addition to the low success rates, cloned animals tend to have more compromised immune function and higher rates of infection, tumor growth, and other disorders. Japanese studies have shown that cloned mice live in poor health and die early. About a third of the cloned calves born alive have died young, and many of them were abnormally large. Of those animals that have been cloned, many have not lived long enough to generate good data about the aging process in clones. Appearing healthy at a young age, unfortunately, is not a good indicator for long term survival. Clones have been known to die mysteriously. For example, Australia's first cloned sheep appeared healthy and energetic on the day she died, and yet the results from her autopsy failed to determine a cause of death.

In 2002, researchers at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, reported that the genomes of cloned mice are compromised. By analyzing more than ten thousand liver and placenta cells of cloned mice, they determined that about four percent of the genes function abnormally. They found that there appear to be a handful of genes that do not function normally in clones. The abnormalities do not arise from mutations in the genes, but from changes in the normal activation or expression of certain genes.

Problems may also result from errors in the programming of genetic material from a donor cell. When an embryo is created from the union of a sperm and an egg, the embryo receives copies of most genes from both parents. A process called "imprinting" chemically marks the DNA from the mother and the father so that only one copy of a gene (either the maternal gene or the paternal gene) is turned on. Defects in the genetic imprint of DNA from a single donor cell may lead to some of the developmental abnormalities of cloned embryos.

The future of cloning could be very destructive for mankind. The military uses of biotechnology could pose a threat comparable to nuclear war. Genetically selective weapons may be developed to target particular ethnic groups. Long-acting toxins may be devised that can devastate populations many years after being disseminated. Further ahead, reproductive cloning may be used to mass-manufacture soldiers more immune to emotions of sympathy and self-preservation than even today's suicide bombers. The development and spread of new weapons of mass destruction is a side effect of the growth of knowledge interacting with primordial human needs. That is why, finally, it is unstoppable. The same is true of genetic engineering. If people try, during the coming century, to redesign human beings, they will not do so on the basis of an enlightened international consensus. It will occur haphazardly, as part of competition and conflict among states, business corporations and criminal networks. The new, post-human creatures that may emerge from these murky rivalries will not be ideal types embodying the best human ideals; they will reproduce some of the worst features of unregenerate humanity. If the advance of reproductive cloning produces a new breed of post-humans, it will come about from the interplay of all-too-human forces and motives such as war, profit and the vanity of leaders. The post-human future will not be the moment when humanity takes charge of its future. It will be just another blind turn in human history.

As an individual person and human being, we are raised with family values. We are taught about the value of marriage, parenthood and respect. Cloning will bring the demise of those values. With today's technology these values are rapidly diminishing. Hence, it is very important to put an end to cloning.

Works Cited

Best, Steven ; Douglas Kellner. “ Biotechnology, Ethics and the Politics of Cloning. ” Democracy & Nature 8.3 ( 2002 ) : 439 – 465.

Fox, Jeffrey L. “ US Deliberates On Embryonic Stem Cells, Cloning. ” Nature 19.9 ( 2001 ) : 791.


Bibliography

Best, Steven ; Douglas Kellner. “ Biotechnology, Ethics and the Politics of Cloning. ” Democracy & Nature 8.3 ( 2002 ) : 439 – 465.

Cannon, Jennifer ; Michelle Haas. “ The Human Cloning Prohibition Act: Did Congress Go Too Far ? ” Harvard Journal on Legislation 35 ( 1998 ) : 637 – 645.

Charo Alta R. “ Cloning Debates. ” Nature 32.4 ( 2002 ) : 567.

Fox, Jeffrey L. “ US Deliberates On Embryonic Stem Cells, Cloning. ” Nature 19.9 ( 2001 ) : 791.

Gray, John. “ The Unstoppable March of the Clones. ” New Statesman 131 ( 2002 ) : 27 – 29.

Gurdon, J.B. ; Alan Colman. “ The Future of Cloning. ” Nature 402 ( 1999 ) : 743 – 746.

Lanza Robert P. ; Jose Cibelli ; Michael West “ Prospects for the use of Nuclear Transfer in Human Transplantation. ” Nature 17.12 ( 1999 ) : 1171-1174.

Maienschein, Jane. “On Cloning : Advocating History of Biology in the Public Interest*” Journal of the History of Biology 34 ( 2001 ) : 423 – 432.

Poland, Susan Cartier ; Laura Bishop. “ Bioethics and Cloning, Part I. ” Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 12.3 ( 2002 ) : 305-323

Poon, Peter N., JD, MA. “ Evolution of the Clonal Man : Inventing Science Unfiction. ” Journal of Medical Humanities 21.3 ( 2000 ) : 159 – 173.
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