Multiple Source Essay Cloning: What is the Right thing to do? Cloning offers many applications, especially in medicine, however, in spite of the many advantages, many people still consider the idea of , and the practice of cloning all together to be immoral. This opinion is rarely based on a careful analysis of facts, often only a spontaneous reaction. Cloning technology has potential for doing much good, research in human cloning should continue, although some applications of it may need to be restricted. Cloning is the process of extracting the DNA out of a donor’s cell and implanting this genetic code in another cell in order to grow a being with identical genes, thus virtually duplicating the donor. The term clone refers to the new being that has identical genes to the donor.
There are three types of cloning, when the media reports on cloning they are generally referring to reproductive cloning. There is also recombinant DNA Technology, and therapeutic cloning (McGee, Human Cloning Debate). Reproductive cloning is a technology used to generate an animal that has the same nuclear DNA as another. Scientist transfer genetic materials from the nucleus of a donor adult cell to an egg whose nucleus has been removed.
This reconstructed egg containing the DNA must be treated with chemicals or electric current to stimulate cell division. Once the cloned embryo reaches a suitable stage it is transferred to the uterus of a female host where it develops until birth (Paul Lauritzen, Cloning). The most notable example of reproductive cloning was dolly the sheep. Another type of reproduction is “recombinant DNA technology,” or “gene cloning.” To clone a gene, a DNA fragment containing the desired gene must be obtained from the chromosomal DNA using restriction enzymes and then united with a plasmid that has been cut with the same restriction enzymes. When the fragment of chromosomal DNA is joined with its cloning vector in the lab it is called a recombination DNA molecule (Paul Lauritzen, Cloning). The most controversial type of cloning is therapeutic cloning.
The goal of this process is not to create cloned humans, but to harvest stem cells that can be used to study human development and to treat disease. Stem cells are important to biomedical researchers because they can be used to generate any type of specialized cell in the human body. Therapeutic cloning has many medical opportunities that will continue to be investigated for years into the future (Nash, Age of Cloning). Research in cloning began as early as 1952 when researchers in Pennsylvania attempted to clone a frog from an embryonic cell. This practice is called embryo twinning and is commonly used in the cattle industry (Nash, Age of Cloning).
Despite these early successes, advances in cloning slowed because it is much more difficult to extend the full DNA from adult cells that from cells in an embryonic stage. In the 1980’s biologists at the Allegheny university of Health Sciences came very close. The team tried to clone frogs from adult red blood cells, and healthy tadpoles developed, but halfway through the experiment the tadpoles died while trying to change into frogs (Nash, Age of Cloning). As recently as 1997 a group of British researchers succeeded in “unfolding” the whole DNA from the udder Cell of a grown sheep, and subsequently cloned the ewe. Cloning is still far from being perfected, before that one sheep was successfully cloned two hundred and seventy-seven tries failed (Nash, Age of Cloning). Cloning is a very controversial subject, many believe it is morally wrong.
Cloning does have some advantages though. Areas that will certainly profit from cloning are medicine and medical research. With cloning it might be possible to provide patients having terminal illnesses with replacement organs that match them perfectly. This is where things get controversial.
It would be possible to use stem cell research to grow a new organ for a dying person, you would be able to give the recipient a perfect match without having to worry about rejection of the organ, which is fatal in most cases. In medical research cloning could give deep insights into problems concerning spinal chords, heart muscles, or brain tissue that will not regenerate after an injury. Finally, it may help us understand some cancer cells that return to an embryonic stage and grow uncontrolled, we may find a way of stopping this uncontrolled growth. Cloning can also be of great value when helping infertile couples to have a child because the procedure of gathering the zygotes becomes much easier and shorter. Lisa Geller, a neuro biologist from Harvard University, states that cloning is so similar to in vito technology, which has been used for nearly two decades now, that there should be no moral objections (Pence, The Right Thing To Do). There are many other applications that cloning can be used for such as in agriculture.
A farmer could duplicate his best cows or sheep and drastically increase the value of the livestock on his farm. Scientists can also investigate the use of cloning for an artificial increase of endangered species of animals. There have already been attempts to clone the Asian Guar, a nearly extinct Ox like animal (Reaves, Bring Back the Dodo). Nevertheless, it is possible to imagine abuses of cloning.
A common fear is that of clone armies or thousands of clones working in labor camps. This, however, is almost impossible to do since cloning still requires surrogate mothers. It is unlikely enough women will be willing to undergo a procedure for this kind of purpose. There are downsides to cloning, reproductive cloning is expensive and highly ineffective. Many cloning attempts are required before a single living offspring is produced. This increases costs.
In addition to costs and low success rates cloned animal tend to have more physical problems, and are prone to shorter life spans (Reaves, Bring Back the Dodo). Whether human cloning is ethically justifiable or not has long been a question. In the 1970’s, scientists seriously believed that cloning using adult cells was impossible and the discussion of adult cloning virtually stopped. The successful cloning of Dolly the sheep has started this discussion again, and because the technology is extremely close to human applications it is even more intense that ever (Pence, The Right Thing to Do). The result of a recent Gallup telephone poll was that more than 70 percent of the people asked seem to oppose human cloning, and the reaction ranges from uncertainty to total rejection. Many religious groups have a negative attitude towards the cloning of humans because “it is morally wrong” (Smith, The Benefits of Human Cloning).
Another widespread opinion is that cloning creates a perfect copy of the cell donor, thus pre-determining the life and all the characteristics of the clone. This idea is considered to violate diversity, a fundamental characteristic of humans. This idea is incorrect. The clone and the cloned would be genetically no closer than twins, their genes being almost identical but both twins being emotionally different (Lauritzen, Cloning).
Like organ transplants, the technology of cloning applied to humans will certainly improve the standards of living, simplify existing procedures, and possibly save lives. Since the common arguments against cloning can easily be refuted, the only reason why some people might oppose cloning is because they are afraid of a new technology, as stated before. Since the time Dolly the sheep was cloned there still have been few major advancements, once we are able to make a major medical breakthrough I believe that the minds of the unbelievers will change. Just like we cannot un invent the atom bomb, we cannot forget about the technology of cloning. We have the technology now, so we should use it in a way that is most appropriate, and that will benefit the world in the best way. Works CitedLauritzen, Paul.
The Basics of Cloning. web McGee, Glen. The Human Cloning Debate. New York: Berkley Hills Books, 2000 Nash, Madeleine J. “The Age of Cloning,” Time, 10 March, 1997 Pence, Gregory E. and Rachel’s, James.
The Right Thing to Do, “Will Cloning Harm People,” New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003 Reaves, Jessica. “Bring Back the Dodo, Brave New Strides in Animal Cloning.” Time 09 October, 2000 Smith, Simon. The Benefits of Human Cloning. web.