The biological definition of a clone is an organism that has the same genetic information as another organism or organisms (Cloning, 1997). Is cloning the gateway to the future or the door to disaster? From this definition and from information about the science behind cloning on cloning, it seems ethical. This statement ignores information about how we can misuse cloning and what consequences occur when the procedure is unsuccessful. Cloning should not be used until it is perfected. It is doubtful however that we will allow cloning to be misused, and most people probably have this same opinion on cloning, but their lack of knowledge on cloning, or their beliefs that cloning would be misused, is the reason for the differences of opinion. Thus, an elaboration on the history, techniques, ethics, and reasons for researching the technology of cloning is necessary.
The first thing that must be cleared up is what is cloning, and what is a clone. A clone is an organism derived asexually from a single individual by cutting, bulbs, tubers, fission, or parthenogenesis reproduction (Cloning 1997). Parthenogenesis unfertilized ovum, seed or spore (Parthenogenesis, 1997). Hence, cloning, biologically speaking, is any process in which production of a clone is successful. Thus, the biological term is the production of a genetically identical duplicate of an organism. However, people can use the term cloning to intend other meanings. For instance, we generalize many older and new techniques as cloning. This is not a good practice because these techniques are different and impose unique concerns and issues.
In the world of scientific technology, cloning is the artificial production of organism with the same genetic material. Scientists actually call the transferring of a nucleus from the cell of one organism to an enucleated egg cell nuclear transfer (Cloning 1997). This will produce an organism that has the exact genetic material as that of the donor cell. Scientists are using current techniques exceedingly more, and with a variety of species. Astonishingly, more clones are present in the world than one would think.
In nature, and even in the lives of humans, clones are present. As stated earlier, a clone is an organism that has the same genetic information as another organism. From this we can say that cloning occurs with all plants, some insects, algae, unicellular organisms that conduct mitosis or binary fission, and occasionally by all multicellular organisms, including humans. Monozygotic twins, or identical twins, are clones of each other. They have the same exact genetic information due to the division of an embryo early in development, which produces two identical embryos (Economist, 1997). About eight million identical twins are alive in the world; thus, already eight million human clones inhabit the earth. In unicellular organisms, a cell will produce two daughter cells that only have the same genetic material.
Cloning of humans in a biological sense already has and is occurring. Scientists are researching by splitting embryos to execute experiments to find data relating cell differentiation, the use of stem cell, and genetic screening. Amazingly, genetic screening is occurring in Britain quite often. Fertility clinics aim this service toward couples where the mother or father has a genetic disorder. A fertility clinic will clone an embryo, then test it for genetic disorders. If the embryo tests negative for genetic disorders, then the fertility clinic implants a clone of that embryo. This should guarantee that the child would not have genetic disorders.
That is the current work with cloning. It is becoming a part of our society already. Cloning is currently a technology that many people could use. It is believed that it will become more popular as prices for the technique decrease, and as the use of cloning becomes increasingly popular. That is if we humans consider cloning acceptable technology, and that we would like to use for the twenty- first century. Cloning has progressed so quickly, few of us know if we should be even fooling with this once the pros outweigh the cons. A good place for us to find that information is to look at the past and current research results with cloning and why scientists research it.
Amazingly, the first attempts at artificial cloning were as early as the beginning of this century. The most well known clone arrived on July 5 at 4:00 P.M. lamb number 6LL3 (Economist 1997), or Dolly, was born. She weighed in at 14 pounds and was healthy. Scientists accomplished this by using frozen mammary cells taken from a six-year-old pregnant ewe and fusing them with an enucleated egg. The trick to fusing the cells is giving a small electric current to the petri dish on which the egg cell is. This stimulates the egg much like a sperm would, and usually takes the genetic material from the cell and becomes a zygote. The fertilized zygote was then placed in another ewe acting as a surrogate mother. The experiment was a success and Dolly became the first successfully cloned mammal.
Scientists also foresee the cloning of pigs to produce organs that humans will not reject (Wills, 1998). Cloning also provides better research capabilities for finding cures to many diseases. There are also possibilities that nuclear transfer could provide benefits to those who would like children. For instance, couples who are infertile, or have genetic disorders, could use cloning to produce a child. Equally important, women who are single could have a child using cloning instead of in-vitro fertilization.
Cloning does offer some negative affects it could have to life. The biggest problem with asexual reproduction is that genetic diversity becomes limited. If a population of organisms has the same genetic information, then the disease would wipe out the population. This is because not one organism has an advantage of fighting the disease over the other. The technique of nuclear transfer is also early in its developmental stages. Thus, errors are occurring when scientists carry out the procedure. For instance, it took 277 tries to produce Dolly. This is the main reason science is holding out on cloning humans. It is also believed that we should not attempt nuclear transfer until the technique is perfected.
Other arguments for cloning include if we are taking nature into our own hands by cloning. Religious groups claim that cloning defies the rule or the belief that humans have souls. They also consider cloning unnatural, and say we are taking the work of God into our own hands. People question when we will draw the line for getting involved in natural events (Bruce, 1998). They say cloning would deprive an individual of uniqueness. They argue that identical twins are not unique from each other. However, they are new in genetic variation and unique from anything that they came from. People also wonder what mental and emotional problems would result if a clone were to find out that he or she was cloned.
Scientists even say identical twins are not identical as we thought. Scientists also predict that dizygotic twins, or fraternal twins, would maintain more similarities than clones. The reason seems that fraternal twins grow a bond grow a bond during their first nine months (Wills, 1998). This is an example that genetics does not fully contribute to the personality of a person. Time spent intrauterine for nine months has a greater effect than genetics is a good example.
So anyone who argues that cloning disregards the laws of God and the souls of humans, they should reconsider their views. Cloning does not artificially produce copies of adult humans. Nuclear transfer is the artificial making of an embryo that will develop into an identical twin. No machine that can produce carbon-copy humans when performing nuclear transfer is involved.
At this point it is believed that human cloning should not be used. However, if we are to venture into cloning we must make many precautions. I think the best way to do this is to research the consequences. Yet, the cloning of animals is not acceptable. In summary, cloning is ethical, unless there is a lack of respect for the lives of animals and humans, and for the ongoing inhabitation of life on earth.
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