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Cloning is a biological term that explains the act of copying genes and other related chromosomes to generate identical materials that usually occur when such organisms like bacteria or plants reproduce asexually. This essay will examine the controversies that surround cloning. We will examine the pros and cons of cloning.
Cloning in biology is a term that describes the number of processes that are used to genetically produce identical individuals. The identical individuals have the same genetic make-up as the original and they are referred to as the clone. Clones also occur naturally in nature. Some plants and single-celled organisms like bacteria produce genetically identical offspring through asexual reproduction. In humans and other higher animals, natural clones (identical twins) also occur. This happens when a fertilized egg splits into two creating another embryo that carries almost identical DNA such that the twins have nearly the same genetic make-up although genetically different from each other.
There are three types of cloning; gene cloning, reproductive cloning and therapeutic cloning. Gene cloning produces copies of genes of DNA, reproductive cloning produces copies of whole animals while therapeutic cloning produces embryonic stem cells usually used for experiments that creates tissues.
Cloning has become a widespread controversy with the general public, scientists and religious communities. The central concern among a wide array of concerns is when life actually begins. This brings out the uncertainty as to whether benefits of cloning outweigh its moral ratifications.
Advantages of cloning
Since the first cloning of Dolly the sheep in 1996, cloning has generated a lot of buzz especially in the scientific field. From a staple of science fiction to a reality, cloning has entered the public consciousness and as a result has generated a lot of controversy from both quarters. Ethical considerations are being put forward by religious organizations opposed to cloning. But despite this, they are advantages to the practice of cloning as listed below;
Helping infertile couples
Some couples have problems with having a child of their own. Cloning helps such kind of infertile couples to have children of their own by using available techniques currently available thus providing an efficient solution to infertility. Women who cannot have babies of their own can with the help of this technique have kids of their own by implanting the cloned embryos into their bodies. Although also a controversial point, lesbians can have babies of their own by the cloning technique where one partner can provide the egg and the other the genes and for guys they will do the same as and only look for a surrogate mother (The advantages and disadvantages of cloning).
Protect endangered species
Some species in the world today are about to be extinct despite the best efforts by conservations worldwide to protect this kind of species. Through cloning like that of Dolly, represents the first step to protect endangered species (Beckett B and Gallagher R. 2001).
Provide treatment for variety of diseases
Treatment of variety diseases by cloning of stem cells is a possibility. This is due to the fact that stem cells are able to turn into many other cell types with the right prompting enabling doctors to replace damaged tissues and organs and replace them to restore a healthy functioning. Through therapeutic applications of stem cells, such diseases like diabetes, stroke, heart diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, blood, bone and marrow ailments, severe burns can be treated by providing skin grafts. This is also used in treating cancer patients and people with spinal cord injuries who have lost cells and tissues to radiation chemotherapy. In addition, stem cells could be harnessed and packaged to deliver gene therapies to the specific body targets in the body and treat genetic problems. (Oracle think quest. Advantages of cloning).
Some researchers believe that stem cells will change the face of medicine. Cloning offers hope to people who need organ transplants. People who need transplants to survive an illness wait for some years for a suitable donor. But unfortunately, these people may die waiting for this suitable donor. But through cloning, this could be eliminated by producing more animals that can act as the donors. Pig livers have been successfully cloned to humans as they wait for a human liver (The advantages and disadvantages of cloning)
Improving food supply
By cloning, plants that are stronger and more resistant to diseases are produced. This ensures that there is improved food supply as plants that survive these harsh conditions are cultivated. The same is possible to livestock as diseases like foot and mouth could be eradicated. Also, genetically modified cattle produces more milk than the average animals. Hence cloning may be touted as the solution to food security in the world and possibly eradicate starvation (The advantages and disadvantages of cloning).
Cloning gives parents a chance to choose the characteristics they want in their children. For example it is possible to choose Albert Einstein’s IQ or the athleticism of Michael Jackson. Hence to some people, cloning is a good matter because human can control how they are evolved to enhance human achievement by creating more athletes or scientists.
Cloning can also eliminate a child’s bad health. By altering the genes, scientists can ensure that a healthy child is born. For example, if a mother gave birth to two kids suffering from Down’s syndrome, doctors can then change and balance the number of chromosomes in the embryo to give the mother a normal and healthy child.
Other cloning benefits include
- Cloning can be done to mimic animal’s genetic code to include human proteins. An example is a cloned cow that produces human proteins and medicines in their milk – the human alpha-lactalbumin. This amino-acid contains almost all the amino acids needed by newborns and could greatly assist premature infants who are not able to nurse.
- Genetic conservation. Only a few selected animals with desirable qualities are chosen for breeding ensuring. The genetic diversity of such animals can be conserved by collecting and freezing desirable cells.
- Cloning may enable to uncover why nervous cells unlike other human cells do not multiply. This will greatly assist paralyzed patients like those with fractured spinal cord walk again (Beckett B and Gallagher R. 2001).
Disadvantages of cloning
Cloning has been publicly condemned by various people and organizations. In June 1998, President Clinton condemned human cloning. He attributed the matter to be more than simply scientific inquiry but a matter of morality and spirituality. The same sentiments have been voiced by various organizations including the church. We will therefore examine some of the reasons why cloning especially that of humans have been condemned so resolutely. The reasons include;
Uncertainty of science technology
Science cannot solve all the problems in the world. If human cloning was allowed for example, there is the fear of the unknown; what will be the results, will the results be easily controlled. These potential crises lurking behind should therefore be dealt with carefully and ban the extreme cases like that of human cloning if there is evidence that it will damage human’s future. An example is from cloning of Dolly, it resulted to destroying more than 270 embryos before that of Dolly was successful (Oracle think quest. Disadvantages of cloning).
Cloning means it creates a copy of the original. This means that a human clone would inherit genetic traits including undesirable qualities like genetic diseases from the predecessor. Example is Dolly who showed early aging signs although the developers denied this. The entire human race will also risk getting infected by the same pathogens and therefore cloning will be detrimental in a great disaster. This may lead to human extinction finally; Richard Nicholson of the British Bulletin said that by cloning, we will be “sowing seeds of our own destruction.”
Losing the diversity of genes
The diversity of genes are inherited from parents who have different sets of genes. Humans live on earth and rely on the diversity of genes. By cloning humans means that we will have the same set of identical genes thus weakening power and adaptations which will subject us to diseases easily. Human cloning will also result in identical genes meaning that it will decrease the diversity of genes. Cloning will also result to surprise of the different humans we see in each other and end up to predicting expectancy (Oracle think quest. Disadvantages of cloning).
Cloning is playing God
This view is especially shared by the clergy. A catholic bishop, Albert Moraczewski, believes that human cloning is out of God’s permission. He cites genesis chapter 1 verse 26 that the first parents had all the power except that they cannot eat the fruit of the tree that gives knowledge of what is good and bad. If they do so they will die. Finally, there is no evidence to suggest that humans have the right to alter God’s creation.
Human cloning also transgresses nature as it is not through the natural reproductive processes. Human cloning is creating life and this is the preserve of man and wife through the natural means (Hill J. 2002).
Devastating parenting and family life
The basic concept of a family is for the couple to love each other and determine to care for each other. The couple then decides to have children who will love them. But for parents of clones, they will love the clone children on how much they resemble them. Cloning therefore undermines the basic element of loving, nurturing and accepting each child as a unique individual and not how much they resemble the parent (Oracle think quest. Disadvantages of cloning).
A cloned human being is as us humans. They will go through the natural ways of eating, drinking and carry out metabolic processes in order to survive. The clone may even better the host human. Therefore it could be inhuman to treat the clone as a special species. Cloning humans will turn out to be a property that can be sold to anybody else and we know that human trade is illegal. Sell of humans is not only illegal but also unethical, inhumane and immoral (The advantages and disadvantages of cloning).
We have seen the controversies that surround stem research. Cloning is an issue that has drawn a lot of debate on whether it is ethical or is it not ethical to clone animals and plants. Cloning has many advantages that pose the question whether all those advantages are to be overlooked. Also, cloning has its own share of disadvantages that threatens the human race as well as creating an imbalance with God; that of creation. We can therefore conclude that cloning is a sensitive issue that has to be handled carefully. Although some animals have been successfully cloned, the humans are not yet ready to be cloned. Yes, cloning has a lot of advantages to it but the fear of crossing some ‘lines’ which should not be crossed lurk. Some scientists believe that ethics may cease scientific development. But this development ought not to be ceased with regard for ethics and great care that are within reason.
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