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Following the successful cloning of a lamb to produce Dolly, a genetically identical twin of its mother lamb, controversy has arose over the frightening prospects of cloning technology. Although undeniable that the ability to clone livestock and even humans is a leap in medical advancement, such technology must be utilized with careful considerations to the issue of ethics.
There are many obvious advantages of cloning technology which comes to mind with the successful cloning of Dolly. Of most immediate concern will be the ability to clone a variety of animal species for food, research and medical uses. For instance, farmers can now opt to farm only genetically cloned, top quality animals. Another possibility can be the mass cloning of animals with genetic defects that mimic human diseases. This will facilitate large-scale scientific research of such diseases. Cloning also raises the possibility of producing transgenic animals, which can help alleviate human organ shortage by providing organs for transplant. There are still many more opportunities resulting from cloning that cannot be discussed here due to the brevity of this essay.
Judging by the many advantages of cloning, should we then jump into this new technology without further hesitation? There are ethical issues that must be carefully considered. For instance, is it right for us to turn to human farming to provide suitable organs for transplants? Are we not infringing on the rights of these human clones? Or do we not even consider them to be in the same class as us? What about the possibility of having designer babies? Would not it be perfect if we are able to select babies the way we buy our groceries, selecting those without inherent flaws? What about those who cannot afford to have their babies made to order? Will their children be subject to discrimination simply because they are less than perfect? Other than ethic issues alone, there are medical issues to take into consideration as well. Cloning technology is still in its infancy and as yet, long term effects of cloning are still unpredictable. Should we then go ahead with mass cloning when we are still groping in the dark as to its future consequences?
There is a need for us to view cloning research in the right perspective. As with any other medical research, it can be a double-edged sword if exploited in the wrong manner.
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