Cloning And Ethical Issues Essay, Research Paper
cloning history and ethical issues 2000-07-10
Cloning In the movie Jurassic Park, we watched as man was able to recreate the existence of dinosaurs using blood and DNA preserved many years ago. This process of taking cells and using it to recreate a lifeform is called cloning. A few year ago man was blest with the discovery of cloning. But with that discovery came many questions. Cloning has been an ongoing topic of debate among the scientific and political community. The constant question ahs arisen of whether or not we can clone a human being. In recent years much evidence has arisen in the field of cloning. Through the analysis of the positive and negative effects of cloning, and a moral analysis, I will propose that cloning be heavily regulated and limited and that cloning in regards to humans be banned. Listing the history, analyzing the benefits and negative aspects, and showing government reaction, I will come to my conclusion. Cloning can be traced back all the way to 1952 when frogs were cloned from the cells were tadpoles. Although the tadpoles died after a few days, the effort to find the key to cloning continued. In 1970 mice embryos were cloned. Then in 1979 the first sheep embryo was cloned. In 1980 followed the cloning of cattle embryo. In 1993 George Washington University researchers clone human embryos. This sparked a great controversy as headlines across America battered the GW discovery with many numerous ethical violations. Upon the discovery of the human embryos, the New York Times headline read SCIENTIST CLONES HUMAN EMBRYOS, AND CREATES AN ETHICAL CHALLENGE. The first ethical questions were finally raised as the thought of human cloning being possible. Now that human embryos were being cloned, why couldn t human clones start appearing? The technology for invitro-fertilization was already possible. It could have been completed. But the true desire was not embryonic cloning, but of adult cell cloning. An embryo always had the potential to grow into a full form, but no one had yet overcome the problem of taking a fully grown adult cell, and cloning from there. This problem was quickly overcome with the discovery of Dolly. In 1997, embryologist Ian Wilmut and his colleagues did the impossible and cloned a full living sheep from the adult cell of another one. They had overcome the barriers and stepped into a new field of reproductive technology. Their discovery was not really a discovery of new biology, but a discovery of a new technique. They took the cell from the udder of one pregnant sheep. They placed the cell in a petri and starved it of nutrition. This caused the cell to fall into a vulnerable state of hibernation. Wilmut then used the cloning technique of nuclear transfer. They First they removed the nucleus of an unfertilized egg, or oocyte, while leaving the surrounding cytoplasm intact. Then they placed the egg next to the nucleus of a quiescent donor cell and applied gentle pulses of electricity. These pulses prompted the egg to accept the new nucleus and all the DNA it contained, as though it were its own. They also triggered a burst of biochemical activity, jump-starting the process of cell division. A week later, the embryo that had already started growing into Dolly was implanted in the uterus of a surrogate ewe. ( Nash) With the birth of Dolly came more research and questioning about cloning. The process had been established. But there was a question about the reliability of the process. More people started to explore the possibilities of cloning. Wilmut’s breakthrough led to more cloning results. In 1998, Teruhiko Wakayama, a 31-year-old post-doctoral student studying cloning at the University of Hawaii, succeeded in cloning a batch of mice. He squeezed in the cloning work during his free time, carefully manipulating one type of mouse cell after another until, just months after Dolly was unleashed on the world, he succeeded in cloning the cumulus cells that surround the egg in the ovary. Wakayama’s name for his new creation: Cumulina. (Lemonick) His technique was almost identical to Wilmut’s except for two key steps. First, instead of using electric shocks to coax an adult cell into merging with a host egg whose nucleus had been removed, Wakayama injected just the adult nucleus into a nucleus-free host. And second, he let the hybrid cell sit for up to six hours before stimulating it to start dividing. (Lemonick) Where Wilmut got only a single cell to flower into an embryo and then a full-term fetus, Wakayama got dozens; up to 3% of his clones survived. That may be in part because his technique treated the cells more gently. It’s also possible that injecting just the nucleus introduced fewer contaminants into the host cell. (Lemonick) Whatever the reason, the cloned mice were perfectly normal in all respects. They could mate and give birth, and their DNA was so robust that they themselves could be cloned–and their clones cloned. So far, Wakayama and his colleagues at the University of Hawaii have produced three generations of identical mice, 50 in all. Cloning was now on a fast pace but there were many questions that needed to be asked. We knew that we could clone, but what were the positive and negative effects if any. Cloning, like many new scientific fields, has its pro s and its con s. There seem to be so many possibilities when a person thinks about cloning. When one lists cloning as a new field of scientific technology, you can also think of the possibilities that cloning can lead to. Once a goal has been reached, you look towards the future. Now that cloning has been accomplished, you look forward to new technology. Just reaching that important step was an important part of cloning. Health issues have been a constant concern. Madeline Nash from TIME magazine lists possible benefits: Biologists are already talking about harnessing for medical purposes the technique that produced the sheep called Dolly. They might, for example, obtain healthy cells from a patient with leukemia or a burn victim and then transfer the nucleus of each cell into an unfertilized egg from which the nucleus has been removed. Coddled in culture dishes, these embryonic clones–each genetically identical to the patient from which the nuclei came–would begin to divide. The cells would not have to grow into a fetus, however. The addition of powerful growth factors could ensure that the clones develop only into specialized cells and tissue. For the leukemia patient, for example, the cloned cells could provide an infusion of fresh bone marrow, and for the burn victim, grafts of brand-new skin. Unlike cells from an unrelated donor, these cloned cells would incur no danger of rejection; patients would be spared the need to take powerful drugs to suppress the immune system. These medical advancements could be made possible through cloning. Another recent medical discovery was the benefits of stem cells. Stem cells can be used to generate healthy new cells, that via transplant, can battle some diseases. (Kerr, S.T. 1-22-99) Stems cells are taken from human embryos. Cloning stem cells could create a ready supply that can be compatible to anyone. Infertility is a problem that many couples face. The desire to have children and to pass on one s own legacy is a natural feeling. Today there are many new techniques to aid infertility. But cloning may be the only answer for couples who are totally incapable of having children. Dolly was a typical example of cloning animals. If sheep, mice, or cattle could be cloned, why not clone sperm whales or California condors. Cloning can revitalize the populations who many endangered species and animals close to extinction. Agriculture stands to benefit as well. Dairy farmers, for example, could clone their champion cows, making it possible to produce more milk from smaller herds. Sheep ranchers could do the same with their top lamb and wool producers. (Nash) These many benefits of cloning can make you think that it may be the answer to many of our problems today. But you must also be weary of the problems or negative effects of cloning. It may outweigh the benefits. Cloning of adult cells was a process that took creator Ian Wilmut ten years to complete. He took many risks and had to conduct most of his experiments in secrecy. Within those ten years he made many mistakes. His attempts failed numerous times. Out of 277 tries, the researchers eventually produced only 29 embryos that survived longer than six days. Of these, all died before birth except Dolly, whose historic entry into the world was witnessed by a handful of researchers and a veterinarian. (Nash) This relatively small percentage for success meant that out of many tries, only a few clones might turn out healthy enough to live. Many pro-life supporters also note that the death of the many embryos was unjust. This likelihood for malfunction in cloning is very discouraging. The innovation in the cloning is that we have taken fully-grown adult cells, and caused it to continue splitting and create a similar form. When they used fully-grown adult cells, they also created a possible problem of premature aging. Moreover, there is a lot we do not know about the effects of cloning, especially in terms of aging. As we grow older, changes occur in our cells that reduce the number of times they can reproduce. This clock of age is reset by normal reproduction during the production of sperm and eggs; that is why children of each new generation have a full life span. It is not yet known whether aging is reversed during cloning or if the clone’s natural life is shortened by the years its parent has already lived. Then there is the problem of the genetic errors that accumulate in our cells. There are systems to seek out and correct such errors during normal reproduction; it is not known if that can occur during cloning. Research with animals is urgently required to measure the life span and determine the cause of death of animals produced by cloning. (Wilmut) In the history of mankind s existence, reproduction has always required the involvement between two subjects. Male and female combinations are the only way to reproduce. Now that cloning has come into the picture, this can limit reproduction to only one person. Sex will seem a lot less necessary than it does today. Having sex is too much fun for us to stop, but religious convictions aside, it will be more for recreation than procreation. (Ridley) But lack of sex or two partner combinations for procreation may have negative results. Males are necessary to combat disease: without sexual reproduction, a clonal species is vulnerable to increasing parasitic attack. Also sex helps purge the species of genetic mutations by shuffling the genes in each generation. (Ridley) The health of humanity may be at stake. Within normal procreation there is better innovation and creativity among humans. There is strength in diversity: we humans are more likely to be protected from being wiped out by a single disease. (Ostrom)Natural selection has always benefited a species. Why refuse it? Many people will argue that cloning can be used as a means to replace a lost loved one. Many parents dream that they could have a lost child return to them. But what many people don t realize is that even though you may clone a new person, you can never replace the personality of the person lost. The cloned child would be a genetically identical twin of the original, and thus physically very similar–far more similar than a natural parent and child. Human personality, however, emerges from both the effects of the genes we inherit (nature) and environmental factors (nurture). The two clones would develop distinct personalities, just as twins develop unique identities. And because the copy would often be born in a different family, cloned twins would be less alike in personality than natural identical twins. (Wilmut) Also if you do desire to have an exact replacement, parents will unconsciously be expecting the clone to fully replace the original. It would not be fair to place any child in these unusual expectations. Parents would never be able to provide an appropriate environment for raising a cloned child. If the clone child was a product of a parent, how would a teenager feel if he knew that he would eventual look exactly like his balding, deaf, father. The psychological trauma a clone may face could prove too much. Many people think of the many fictional works like A Brave New World, Gattica, and the Boys from Brazil. These works bring to light the many extreme problems that cloning may eventual cause. Cloning is a very powerful tool. The creation of life in the wrong hands is a very morbid idea. In history we have seen the works of Hitler and his desire to create the super human race. His goals of a superior army or race could have been made reality with the concept of cloning. In today s world of many military conflicts, cloning may end up being a factory for soldiers. Cloning combined with DNA manipulation may cause creations never meant to exist. Cloning may be a very powerful tool that humanity is not ready for. Finally the greatest argument against cloning may be in the ethics of the action. Many politicians and leaders question whether we even have the right to create in this manner. A poll taken by TIME and CNN in 1993 showed that 3 out of 4 people disapprove of cloning, 58% of people thought it was morally wrong, and 63% said they believed it was against God s will. (Elmer-Dewitt). Man can never be sure whether the power to create was meant to be controlled. The process of cloning also sparks the argument that controlling creation and death is morally wrong. The argument that cloning is morally wrong has sparked many governments to take action. After the discovery of Dolly, European and US governments worked fast to study cloning and decide on its overall value. In the US, President Clinton asked the National Bioethics Advisory Commission to write a report recommending what the country should do about cloning. The commission reported that it is morally unacceptable for anyone to attempt to create a child using cloning. The commission worries about the safety of the procedure. It cites that there are many ethical concerns that require more study and discussion before the technology may be used. The recommend to continue the ban on cloning, but to leave that opportunity for future change with a sunset clause that allows open discussion after three to five year. Also they recommend that any laws written about cloning be carefully examined and written so that it doesn t interfere with research in the cloning of animals or tissue. (Recer) In Europe, a similar commission recommended the same ideas. The quote that the ban was needed to protect the identity of human beings. (Reuters) Even though that these governments have made these decisions it would be almost impossible to regulate cloning. You can outlaw technique; you cannot repeal biology. And even the outlawing of this technique–Britain, for example, forbids the cloning of humans–will fail. It is too simple, too replicable. No amount of regulation by the FDA or the NIH or even the FBI will stop it. (Kroauthammer) Once the technology has been discovered, there’s no way to stop it. You can suppress people, but you can t suppress knowledge. The fact that the governments of the world show a great concern about the effects of cloning has prompted my decision that cloning of human beings should be banned. Cloning should only be used for tissue or organ benefits, and cloning animals for scientific gain. I believe that the many negative effects of cloning out weigh the benefits. Our species has always proven to be special, and we have evolved and developed to our height without cloning. I also believe that it is morally wrong to clone human beings. The low percentage of success and the high mortality of clones is unethical. You are creating a human that will live, breath, and think. It requires the best and safest means of production. New advances like the UH mice cloning project may show promise, but any human life deserves the best and creation shouldn t be left to percentages. I agree that in the long run, cloning will benefit us through better cures for diseases, better tissue and organ transplants, and better animals and agriculture. These scientific advances are the only practical use for cloning to be applied. If a healthier human being is produced by the use of cloned tissues, then mankind will benefit. There are too many risks involved in the cloning of human beings. If human cloning were allowed, the potential for exploitation is too great. This powerful tool should only be used for mankind s benefit, and not for his destruction. This decision that I make and that the governments of the world already practice will definitely benefit man in the long run. Morals and ethics do change with time, and maybe someday man would be ready for the cloning of his own kind, but until then, we must make a morally conscious effort to control this great power we have finally harnessed. The future will be bright with the oncoming of cloning. Discussion, debate, and regulation are the necessary tools needed for its arrival. Works Cited Elmer De-Witt, Philip. Where do we draw the line Time Magazine 11-8-93 vol. 142 pg.64 Kerr, Kathleen Scottish scientist wants to clone. Newsday 1-22-99 Krauthammer, Charles. Cloning- Moral and ethical aspects. Time Magazine 3-10-97. vol. 149 pg. 60 Lemonick, Michael. Dolly your history. Time Magazine 8-3-98 vol. 152 pg. 64 Nash, Madeline. The case for cloning. Time Magazine 2-9-98 vol. 151 pg. 81 Ibid. The Age of Cloning. Time Magazine 3-10-97 vol. 149 pg. 62 Ostrum, Carol. The ethics of cloning ourselves. Seattle Times 2-25-97 pg. A1 Recer, Paul Human Cloning Ban Suggested AP Seattle Times 6-8-97 pg. A3 Rueters. Europe Bans Cloning of Humans Seattle Times . 11-9-97 pg. A4 Ridley, Matt Will we still need to have sex. Time Magazine vol.154 pg. 66 Wilmut, Ian Dolly s False Legacy. Time Magazine 1-11-99 vol. 153 pg.