Imagine it is the year 2008. As you pick up yourdaily issue of the New York Times, you begin toread some of the interesting articles on the frontpage.
The top story of the paper reads, “GermanyWins All Gold Medals at the Olympic Games: IsCloning in Competitive Events Fair?” Otherinteresting articles reported on the front pageinclude: “Rock Star Stacy Levesque and Lover’sNuclear Transplanted Child is Born” and “FormerPresident George Bush’s Cloned Heart TransplantA Success.” These articles are examples of howmuch of an influence cloning can be in the future.Although these articles would have seemedscience fiction several years ago, the idea ofcloning became a reality in 1997. On February 27,1997, it was reported that scientist produced thefirst clone of an adult sheep, attracting internationalattention and raising questions of whether cloningshould take place. Within days, the public calledfor ethics inquires and new laws to ban cloning.The potential effects of cloning are unimaginable.What would life be like with women who are ableto give birth to themselves, cloned humans whoare used for “spare parts”, and genetically superiorcloned humans? Based on the positive advancesof cloning versus the negative effects, one mustask his/herself whether cloning humans should bebanned entirely.
According to the American Heritage CollegeDictionary, cloning is “to reproduce or propagateasexually.” This definition means that cloningenables the creation of offspring without anysexual action or sexual contact. There are severalmethods for cloning: separating the embryo andmaking twins with the same genetic make-up,taking a cell from a fertilized ovum when the cellbegins to split and replace it in another female’sovum, or nuclear transplantation. In the 10 March1998 issue of Time, J. Madeleine Nash explainsone example of how a clone of an adult ewe is”born” from nuclear transplantation. First, a cell istaken from the udder of an adult ewe and placedin a culture with very low concentrations ofnutrients. As the cells starve, they stop dividingand switch off their active genes, and go intohibernation.
An unfertilized egg is then taken fromanother adult ewe and the egg’s nucleus, alongwith its DNA, is sucked out, leaving an empty eggcell that still has the cellular machinery to producean embryo. The empty egg and the culture ofstarved cells are then placed next to each other.Then an electronic pulse causes the egg and thecells to fuse together and a second burst is givento jump-start the cell division. Six days later, theembryo is implanted in the uterus of another ewe.The result of this process will be the birth of ababy sheep, having identical genes as the firstsheep from which the cells were extracted fromthe udder. Although scientist understand howcloning is possible and what the cloning methodsare, exactly how the adult DNA changes onceinside the egg still remains a question.
Whichevermethod is used to create a clone, the outcomeremains the same – cloning is duplicating an exactcopy of another life form. The term “cloning” was first introduced in 1903 byHerbert John Webber as a new horticultural termand was first applied to manmade populations ofcultivated plants. In the early 1980’s, scientistsdeveloped a procedure called nuclear transfer thatenabled scientists to replace the DNA-containingnucleus of an egg cell with a nucleus from anothercell. At Allegheny University of the HealthSciences, scientists raised a crop of tadpoles fromthe red blood cells of adult frogs; however, thisexperiment failed when the tadpoles died halfwaythrough metamorphosis. Last year in the 27February issue of Nature, Mr. Wilmut and hiscolleagues at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh,Scotland successfully created a clone of an adultewe and named her Dolly. Dolly was “born” bytaking genetic material from cells in the mammaryglands of a 6 year-old ewe and putting theacquired cells into an unfertilized ovum. Out of277 tries, researchers eventually produced only 29embryos that survived longer than 6 days, of these29, all died before birth except Dolly.
Since Dollywas born, scientists have made additionaladvances in cloning, and now harbor the conceptof cloning humans.Those who support cloning argue that cloning canbenefit the human race and society by contributingto medical and psychological studies, allowinginfertile mothers to have biological children, andcloning animals or humans to attain needed organs.Many medical researchers can utilize cloned genesto diagnosis many genetic diseases. By cloninggenes, scientists can create hundreds of identicalgenes and diagnose mutations that result in thedisease. By being able to work with identicalgenes, it would allow scientists to experiment withtrial and error and compare the results of theirexperiments. By using cloned genes for medicalresearch purposes, it is possible to find cures toAIDS, cancer, and other biological diseases muchmore quickly. Other researchers who couldbenefit from cloning are psychologists.
Last year,in my high school Psychology class, we debatedwhether a person’s personality was predeterminedby his genetic makeup, or if his/her environmentshaped his/her personality. This debate couldeasily be solved with the help of clones. Forexample, psychologists could take severalgenetically identical clones and raise them invarious families with varied social statuses andlifestyles.
As these clones grow in their respectiveenvironments, psychologist would be able tomonitor their respective personalities and drawconclusions to answer the debate. Another groupof people who would benefit from cloning isinfertile women. Many woman throughout theworld cannot become pregnant because they areinfertile. Although these women have the option toadopt, the fact remains that their adopted child isnot biologically their own.
However, by cloningthe infertile woman’s DNA and transplanting theDNA into another woman’s ovum, the baby willbe born as the biological child of the infertilemother. Another fact that I found in my researchwas the fact that there are approximately 50,000people on the National Waiting List for an organtransplant and out of these 50,000 people, only20,000 will actually receive a transplant. Ifscientists could clone human organs, thousands ofpeople who are awaiting an organ transplant couldbe saved. By cloning humans, surgeons could reapthe organs of cloned individuals, without actuallykilling a human being.
This process of growinghuman life as material is called “organ farming.”Through my research I have found that themajority of people who support the applications ofcloning have been from the medical or sciencecommunities. However, there are also manyindividuals outside of science and medicine whoalso support cloning. For example, NicholasCoote, assistant general secretary of the RomanCatholic Bishops Conference in England, defendscloning humans by stating, “If I have a clone of me,I am still unique as my clone has a consciousnessthat is not mine.” On the other side of the debate, those whoadvocate the ban on cloning argue that cloning isimmoral and against God’s will.
Many people feelthat scientist should not have the power to “playGod’ under any circumstances. In many religiousarticles, the authors were appalled with the notionthat scientists were creating life. For thousands ofyears, religion has taught that the only humancreations were Adam and Eve, and that only Godand heterosexual reproduction could create life.Advocates of the ban on cloning believe thatcloning is immoral and sinful.
Another viewpointagainst cloning, as E. V. Kontorovich said in hisNational Review article, “Cloning would take thehumanity out of human reproduction.” Gary Bauer,President of the Family Research Council alsostated, “Human cloning should be banned becauseit transforms procreation into production wherehuman children are the customized products.
“Kontorovich and Bauer both imply that cloninghumans would destroy the concept of humanity.Many people who support the ban on cloning feelthat cloning is manufacturing human lives as if theywere objects and not living beings. Anotherconsequence of cloning humans is the fact that ifoffspring are identical to their parents, they cannotevolve to adapt to their environment. E. V.Kontorovich pointed this out in his NationalReview article by stating, “It is necessary forspecies to respond to environmental changes sothat the human species can evolve.
” Althoughscientist would be able to create geneticallysuperior humans at the moment, in the long runhumans may become less diverse and unable toadapt to changing climates or other changes intheir environment. Also, many supporters of theban on cloning are worried that cloning couldreplace the “average human” with geneticallysuperior clones, thus making the human raceobsolete. If Adolf Hitler would have had today’scloning technology he might have been able toclone an army of genetically superior clones andhave taken over the world. Today, if a scientist,who is capable of cloning humans, joins terroristorganizations and clones a massive army ofmilitary Generals, these organizations couldsucceed where Hitler failed.
To begin my research to answer my thesis, Ivisited the United States Military AcademyLibrary and looked through reference books toget facts about human cloning and its possibleeffects of society. My next step was to lookthrough scientific magazines to find publishedarticles concerning cloning. These articlesprovided much information about cloning and theprocess of cloning. To find as much information asI could, I searched through articles on the library’scatalog online, through scientific magazines, andeven though magazines on microfilm. When I feltthat I understood the facts concerning cloning, Ibegan to look through general magazines, articleson the Internet, and Internet web pages. Thesearticles provided mostly opinions of thecontroversial issue of cloning and I was able tounderstand how different people viewed the issueof cloning and why they felt the way they did.After I gathered all of my information fromphotocopying articles and taking notes, Iorganized my information to match my outline andbegan writing my research paper.
Cloning has become a very important issue that isaffecting our world. What would the world be likewith a superior race, such as the hypotheticalGerman Olympic teams of 2008 or with armies ofcloned humans conquering every continent onEarth? Even if cloning is limited to medicalresearch, there will always be scientists who willfind ways to use cloning to their own personalbenefit. Consequently, even if cloning is limited tomedical research, there is still the risk of cloninghumans. We simply cannot play God and createlife because it is morally wrong and sinful, andmost importantly, dangerous. The only answer tothe cloning issue is to sacrifice the medical andbiological gains of cloning and put an absolute banon all cloning. SourcesHansen, Kristin.
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