Since the human existence began, humans never get tired of entertaining their curiosity. There are so many questions that pop up in their minds and ever longed for an answer. Through time, many a scientist and philosopher existed and studied extensively all about humans, nature, world, the existence of God, diseases, medicine and knowledge among others. At present, we acknowledge the results of their studies and apply it in our daily lives. It is even taught in schools which makes us accept and learn it almost like law. However, humans were never contented.
Continued learning and discoveries are being done. Many questions are still remain unanswered because of the changes that happens in the world. Moreover, the values, faith and the spiritual being of man is being questioned. Studies have been done before are being challenged. Even now the creation of God is being experimented and debated upon by intelligent people of the society. These even led to more confusions and has divided the people into believers and unbelievers.
In every area of life, changes happens swiftly. Shattering news and researches made the world shiver and happy. Most memorable of these developments was the creation of Dolly. In 1997, the world was blasted with the news that a sheep was successfully born in an unnatural way through the efforts of the Scottish scientist, Ian Wilmut (Humber and Almeder 3).
Many raised their eyebrows while many clapped their hands. Many issues dealing with morality, legality, and ethics of the creation of Dolly were raised. In addition, the world was divided into pro and con sides. Many conservatives staged demonstrations to ban further cloning, while many wealthy individuals ran after the scientists hoping for solutions of their frustrations. As expected, cloning was the strong subject of debate and the world was quite confused on which to side, on the advantages or on disadvantages, to line up on.
Proponents of science, liberals and class most favored by cloning argue that this development in science will cure the imperfections in the world. According to Oliver Morton in his “Overcoming Yuk”, that in due time, these changes will soon be accepted by all.
On the other hand, I propose that these major change, if accepted, will never make the world perfect.
Definition of Cloning
The word “clone” is derived from the Greek word “twig”, which is derived from the Ancient practices of taking a twig or cutting from one plant and either drafting it on another or rooting it produce new plants or shrubs (Cohen 10). Furthermore, a clone is a group of organisms descended from a single individual through asexual reproduction (Harris, 2).
Cloning can mean many ways depending on how it is used (Cohen 10). Generally, cloning is the process of creating a single gene, cell, or organ which is identical to the contributor of the gene, cell, or organ (MSN Encarta, 2008).
History of Cloning
Cloning has always been part of nature’s activity, since the creation of the world began. This is visible in most plants and some bacteria. Thousand years ago, farmers used this method by way of cutting a plant and letting it root then wait for it grow into a new plant (MSN Encarta, 2008). Then breeding techniques were adopted which is done by combining it with cloning to produce a more desirable plant (MSN Encarta, 2008). Water hyacinths, for example, produce seeds but reproduce mainly by sending out underwater stems which grow into hundreds of thousands of new plants (Cohen 15). Other fruits, such as strawberries and grapes, have potentials of reproducing through their stems that grow and lays on the soil forming into a new plant. Through time, scientific advancement was promoted in the development of plants and creating different breeds and varieties of plants.
Scientists furthered their studies in animals by generating genetically modified animals with new traits, such as the ability to resist diseases, and used cloning techniques to to reproduce more genetically modified animals (MSN Encarta, 2008). In 1934, scientists from the University of Michigan found a population of fish which are all females in Northern Mexico and were known as Amazon molly which can be cultured in home aquariums (Cohen 10). Since then, the discovery of cloning ability of animals invited more scientific studies and applied to animals with backbones.
Cloning technology was also utilized in the industry by feeding bacteria with toxic substances to possess an ability to clean up environmental contamination (MSN Encarta, 2008). In 1962, a British biologist John Gurdon, cloned tadpoles but never survived adulthood (MSN Encarta, 2008). In 1977, German biologist Karl Illmensee cloned mice from cells derived from early embryos but was discredited because of his questionable laboratory techniques (MSN Encarta, 2008). He was followed by Danish biologist Steen Willadsen who created the first cloned mammal, a sheep, by using nuclear transfer with deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA (MSN Encarta, 2008). DNA or deoxyribonucleic acid is the hereditary material in humans and almost all other organisms which are located in the cell nucleus and some can found in the mitochondria (Genetics Home Reference, 2008). Willadsen opened an avenue for more possible cloning of animals by scientists. Then in 1997, after many attempts, scientist Ian Wilmut, successfully cloned Dolly, a humble sheep (Cohen 19).
These historical and scientific developments made many scientist thought of the possibility of cloning a human being.
Process of Cloning
Cloning can be done in several ways. Generally there are three types of cloning which are embryo cloning, reproductive cloning and therapeutic cloning. Embryo cloning duplicates the process that nature uses to produce twins and triplets (Jenkins 139). It is done by removing one or more cells from a fertilized embryo and allowing it to duplicate to produce twins (Jenkins 139). The embryos that are duplicated will possess identical DNA structures. Moreover, this method was applied to different animals, like cattle, and later done to humans.
The second type was the method used to Dolly. Reproductive cloning, simply put, is making a duplicate of another animal. The process is done by taking the DNA from an ovum of the animal and replace it with the DNA from a cell removed from an adult animal (Jenkins 139). Then the fertilized ovum, called the pre- embryo, is implanted into a womb of an adult animal and allowed it to develop into new animal (Jenkins 139). This process was found effective through Dolly. However, this type was not permitted in Britain and in any other European countries citing that it is illegal to put any cloned embryo into another animals’ womb.
The third controversial type is the therapeutic cloning. This type has similarity with reproductive cloning and can be applied to human being. The process involves, removing of the pre- embryo with the intent of producing tissue or a whole organ for transplant back into the person who supplied the DNA (Jenkins 139). The goal of this process is to produce a healthy copy of a sick person’s tissue or organ for transplant (Jerkins 139). In other words, this process is like creating an adult clone except that the pre- embryo is killed after 14 days so that the stem cells be harvested and allowing it to grow human organs such as kidney, liver, among others (Spreadinglight, 2008).
Benefits of Cloning
Cloning has played a very important role in science. It did not only widen the knowledge of the scientist but it also improved the study of science. Many students are more challenged with the discoveries of new species and improving the lives of the people.
The very common advantage of cloning is the advancement of science and the widening of opportunity for scientists. Through cloning, possibilities of creating a perfect world was prospected. It is also through cloning that scientist become more known and recognized in the society. Notably, after the great scientist like Frankenstein and others, there were no popular names known by students who contributed in the field of science. In addition, through cloning the importance of these scientist were needed by wealthy people who hoped for cures or solutions of their problems.
Another benefit that can be derived from cloning is the alleviation of food shortage. At present, there are varieties of plants that grows slow and sometimes extinct due to environmental changes. However, through cloning, many plants can be produced faster and better. Scientist can create plants or fruits that are filled with nutrients and can satisfy the hunger of people. The problem in Africa and in other poor countries will be resolved through cloning.
Cloning can also prevent the extinction of endangered animals (MSN Encarta, 2008). Many animals are no longer capable of surviving because of the environmental changes and industrialization. However, through cloning, scientist can produce a duplicate of endangered species as many as they can. This has already been tried by successfully cloning a gaur, an endangered ox that lives in Southeast Asia by inserting the genetic material from the skin cell of a dead male gaur into a cow’s egg cells in replace of the latter’s nucleus (MSN Encarta, 2008). Then, in 2001 scientist cloned mouflon, an endangered sheep from Sardinia, Corsica and Cyprus and scientist are hoping to clone more endangered animals like the African bongo antelope, Sumatran tiger, and giant panda (MSN Encarta, 2008).
Cloning is also hoped to be answer of the prayers of the childless parents who cannot bear a child because of infertility. Meanwhile, after the news about Dolly, many couples rushed to the office of the scientist hoping that they can help them bear a child of their own. A woman can have a baby of her own by injecting an embryo into her womb without sexual contact. Many techniques has also been suggested which made many childless couples hopeful. Furthermore, parents who avail themselves of this procedure can have children possessing the traits that they wanted the child to have. They can make the child perfect in their eyes.
Moreover, through cloning, a parent can have a child possessing the character traits that the parents wants. A child can be made intelligent and beautiful through cloning. A dead person can also be brought to life can be possibly done as long as the cells or genes of the dead person are still alive.
Many diseases can be cured also through cloning. Many medical, therapeutic and pharmaceutical industries have benefited from cloning. For example, a sheep having the ability to produce milk containing a protein that helps in the treatment of hemophilia has been cloned in Scotland (MSN Encarta, 2008). This possibilities of generating animals producing milk rich in nutrients can be possibly done. The cure for cancer, Alzheimers, and other incurable diseases can be developed through cloning.
Through cloning, the imperfections of the world can be improved.
Disadvantages of cloning
Despite the many benefits that cloning can be provide, the government and the world as a whole have difficulty in accepting cloning. Disadvantages can be cited in relation to the questions raised in cloning.
Primarily, the morality of cloning was first asked especially by the Church and the conservatives. It has been raised that man was created in the image and likeness of God and that alone cannot be altered by any science (Cohen 59). God has also created man to reproduce in a natural way which is through sexual reproduction. Through which, the child will bear the DNA and traits of the mother and father by joining their egg cells and sperm cells, respectively. However, through cloning, a child can be born even without the father.
Furthermore, the church believes that life begins at conception (Cohen 59). Through cloning, an embryo is killed after 14 days. This process can then be said as murderous.
This claim has also been supported by some biochemist like Dianne N. Irving when she said that a single cell embryo or zygote is not a “potential or possible human being” but has already existed as a human being to simply grow and develop (Cohen 60). However, this was contradicted by Ian Wilmut stating that “although it is a potential human, I don’t think in many important aspects it really is a human” (Cohen 60).
Another disadvantage is the legal issue. No nation has yet legally approved human cloning. In August 2001, President George W. Bush used his executive powers to ban the use of federal funds for research on new stem cells derived from human embryo (MSN Encarta, 2008). Another bills were passed banning the cloning per se because cloning may still continue through private funds but the bills were not approved by the majority.
The ethical value of cloning is questioned because many scientists may abuse their authority and knowledge to produce species that can put the world in danger. It has been also argued that many cloning attempts were not successful which, if legalized, will put numbers of animal and human cells in danger. Furthermore, many negates cloning because of the possibility of transferring diseases and virus because cells will be taken from one animal and be transferred to another animal’s or humans womb.
With all that has been cited, a man can really be caught in the middle of heaven and earth because weighing the advantages and disadvantages is difficult to do.
It is true that cloning can, in a way, heal the imperfections of the world, but can never make the world perfect. The very first reason is the detrimental fading of social justice. If cloning will be allowed, it is expected that it requires a great amount of money for a person to have his favorite animal or child to be cloned. In addition, the world is divided into rich and poor, and the poor far outnumber the rich.
It would then be unfair because only the affluent can afford and can have access to cloning. Difficulties in taking a highly paid job would be the first problem of the humans because the clones created intelligently and beautifully done will be most preferred. Through this injustices will most likely occur in the community.
In addition, the individuality and personality of the cloned will be questioned. It is undeniable that human born of their parents the natural way will be different with those cloned because of reasons that cannot be explained by science but can be felt by the mother and the child. It would also confuse the state whether these clones be considered human that are entitled to rights bestowed by the laws.
All said, nothing in this world is perfect and nothing, including science, can make the world perfect.
Cohen, Daniel. Cloning. Connecticut: Twenty- First Century Books, 2002.
“Cloning.” (2008). MSN Encarta. 19 May 2008 ;http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761567589_1____2/cloning.html;
Harris, John. On Cloning. New York: Routledge, 2004.
Humber, James M. and Almeder, Robert F. Human Cloning. New Jersey: Humana Press, 1998.
Jenkins, Joe. Ethics and Religion. Heinemann, 2003.
“Overcoming Yuk by Oliver Morton”. (2008). Get Wired. 19 May 2008 ;http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/6.01/morton.html;
Rantala, M. L. and Milgram, Arthur J. Cloning: For and Against. Open Court Publishing, 1999.
“What is DNA?” 2008. Genetics Home Reference. 19 May 2008 ;http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/handbook/basics/dna;.