The Moral And Ethical Aspects Of Cloning

Essay, Research Paper

When a parent goes to buy an action figure for their child for Christmas the parent have many different selections to choose from. When the parent finds the exact toy their child wants there may be many of the same action figures on stock. All of those action figures had master model that they were designed from. This figure that is produced from the model is an exact replica of the original. This process is called cloning. We as humans are infatuated with science fiction because we like things that are from another world or far into the future. Being able to clone a human or animal has always been a science fiction infatuation. The movie to be the biggest box office seller of all time was about cloning. Jurassic Park caused people to ponder the aspects of being able to clone an animal that had been extinct for many years and bring it back to life. The science community has always believed that cloning an mammal would be to far out of reach, especially cloning humans. But in February of 1997, Nature published a paper written by Roslin Institute of Scotland announcing that they had successfully cloned a mammal from an adult cell. For many years scientists have been able to clone many different things from animals other than mammals but this was the first time ever. This sent every biotech companies, genetic engineering firms, and countries into mad frenzies. Biotech companies asking how they did it? Genetic firms pondering the financial prospects and countries wondering what the moral and ethical aspects of this find could mean? Since February numerous stories and studies have been done on the science of cloning, how it can help us or how it can hurt us? Many countries have already banned cloning. Many wonder if someone was able to clone a mammal could they clone a human? Should we condone the practice of cloning or should we ban it?

The word clone derived from the Greek klon, meaning twig or slip, refers to asexual reproduction also known as vegetative reproduction (McKinnell 6). Cloning is not a new process but it has been practiced for many years. Plants, like potatoes, are grown by taking parts of the potato and planting it into the ground from that yields another potato.

Many people have argued exactly what cloning is. A seemingly trivial – but, in fact, critical – biological flaw in an ethical discourse was published by Paul Ramsey in 1970. He asserted that cloning is reproduction by enucleating and renucleating an egg that has already been launched into life by ordinary bi-sexual reproduction (McKinnell 3). Others have different ideas about what cloning is. Joseph Fletcher, described cloning as A fertilized ovum or zygote is extracted from the oviduct and the fertilizing done in vitro. Next, its nucleus is removed (enucleated) and a body or somatic cell is donated (McKinnell 4).

Scientists once thought that cloning an animal from an adult cell was

impossible. Although every cell contains the complete genetic blueprint for making a new animal, those instructions cannot be read in adult cells; they ve become specialists, producing cells only for a single body part. The Scottish team figured out how to turn on all the genes needed to make a lamb from a single adult sheep cell (Begley 57). In our bodies our cells hold the code to create a human being. Everyone of our cells hold the material for life, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). The only thing that keeps the cells from being the same is when a person was still a blob of cells, all the cells decided what the

wanted to be. Since they didn t need the genes from the other cells they shut those genes off only leaving the genes needed. For this reason no one has been able to take an adult cell and create a clone of the same animal. They have never been able to get those other genes found in the cells to express themselves but the scientists Roslin Institute figured out how. The technology to clone an animal or human is readily available to anyone who would like to attempt to clone. In a very summarized way this is how the Roslin Institute cloned a sheep. A Finn Dorset ewe provides the mammary cell for cloning. A mammary cell contains copies of every gene needed to make a sheep, but only genes for proteins required by mammary cells are active. Cells grow and divide making carbon copies of themselves. But if the cells are starved of nutrients, they enter a quiescent state. At this point all of their genes can be activated. A Scottish Blackface ewe provides the egg. The egg, or oocyte, is kept alive in a laboratory dish. The nucleus is removed from the egg. The mammary cell and the egg fuse with a spark of electricity. Molecules in the egg then program genes in the mammary cell to produce the lamb embryo. Clusters of embryonic cell are grown. Embryos are implanted into a surrogate mother. The lamb that results is a clone of the donor ewe.

Andre Helegars, of Georgetown University reflects the attitude of many working biologists: I think fundamentally the problem is that too many people believe that cloning is an end, namely, to production of an individual. Factually, cloning is a means. It is a means of cell study and an enormously important one (McKinnell 5). People seem to be scared of cloning because they believe another Hitler could be created. Many people don t realize that cloning could be used for some good. Medically, cloning could save many lives from cancer or other diseases. Someone that has leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant but can t find a match can have themselves cloned and borrow the bone marrow from that clone. Cloning of animals to provide certain contributions to us can be done. The scientists wanted to genetically engineer sheep and cows so that their milk contains human proteins. Not just any proteins but those with pharmacological uses – medicine. Earlier this year PPL threw a coming out party for Rosie, a cow whose milk contains just about all the amino acids a newborn needs. The ideas is to purify the protein from Rosie s milk and sell it, in powdered form, for premature babies who cannot nurse. Other companies are also banking on animals with human traits, for everything from blood to hearts (Begley 55). With the problems of child birth, cloning could be good for having a child. So who will likely take advantage of cloning? Perhaps a grieving couple whose child is dying. This might seem psychologically twisted. But a cloned child born to such dubious parents stands no greater or lesser chance of being loved, or rejected, or warped than a child normally conceived. Infertile couples are also likely to seek out cloning. That such have other

options(in vitro fertilization or adoption) is not a argument for denying them the right to clone (Macklin 64).

People believe that if , more like when, humans can be cloned people will abuse the technology in ways to gain money or for personal power. But there maybe glitches in being able to produce another human through cloning. Since being able to clone an animal is so complicated and man was not the ones that created the process of development there might be problems related to the cloning of animals. Problems that we have not yet been seen. McKinnell raised the point, If human cloning does happen, there is a real potential for developmental abnormalities. There is no reason to believe that manipulation of human egg and nuclei would be anymore free of technical error and mishap than manipulation of amphibian eggs and nuclei. Since, by common knowledge, we do not know how cloning a human will turn out should we go through the process maybe risking the chances of the person coming out wrong or deformed because of our mess up. Should we risk it?

The news that an adult sheep has been cloned has left many wondering

about the implications of possible human cloning. Many people have immediately

responded by saying that human cloning would violate accepted ethics, but there are other arguments that support it (Macklin 64). In the book Jurassic Park scientists found a way to clone dinosaurs. What they didn t know was the problems that bringing an animal from the past could cause. The book was fiction but we are having to deal with the reality of cloning. What do we know what will come of such endeavors by our scientists. Should we play God? In a since we aren t playing God because we are not creating the cells to clone a human, they are already there, we just use them to start another embryo. But will we be able to take people from the past and clone them , for instance, Hitler? It is equally easy to imagine creepier reasons for cloning. The

journal, Nature, reported that, just before its Dolly issue went to press, it received an e-mail from a Harvard University scholar, pleading that the paper be dropped because abuse [of cloning technique] by extralegal or foreign groups is almost inevitable (Begley 57). The prospect of being able to bring back Hitler is scary, but it would be hard to foster a child up to be like Hitler. One must realize that the genes in someone s body does not make them out to be the type of person they are. If a scientist were to clone Hitler to be a leader, that scientist would have to bring that child up just like Hitler, provide the same atmosphere that nurtured his madness and thought. And

then, it still would probably be impossible because he is not being brought up in the same time period. This could be done with any child if one wanted to have a Hitler.

With the misuses of a clone there also comes the part of, does a clone

have a soul? There is no biblical basis prohibiting cloning except the fact that using it for something evil. I believe he/she would have as much soul as does each twin of an identical twin pair or each triplet of a trio when descended from a common fertilized egg (McKinnell 112). Using a clone just for the purpose of having extra parts for the cloner is wrong. Creating another human being just so one may live longer violates ethical and moral standards. A clone should not be treated no less than any other human. The Feb 1997 cloning of an adult sheep Scottish researchers has intensified the debate over the ethics of human cloning. Which most scientists and politicians seem to over whelmingly oppose the cloning of humans as immoral, theologians and philosophers are divided over the issue, with a vocal minority arguing that human cloning could be both ethically and morally acceptable. They agree however, that the process is open to possible misuse. Both opponents and supporters of human cloning worry about its effects upon the clone and the clone s possible mistreatment by society (Kiernan A13). Also many believe cloning a human would cause the clone to be treated lower in society

because of its development. Theologians contend that to clone a human would violate human dignity. That would surely be true if a cloned individual were treated as a lesser being, with fewer rights or lower stature. A leading lawyer – ethicist has suggested that cloning would violate the right to genetic identity (Macklin 64).

McKinnell stated in his report, I do not want to clone a human. I know

of only one who has tried. But what if a human were cloned? Would he or she be a hazard and would the act of cloning be a hazard? I doubt it. The cloned human would be a human just as the cloned frog is a frog. What is the real question with cloning? Is it, should we play God or mess with the life process. No, the real question, is it morally and ethically right? What kind of impact would it bring upon the world knowing we have this power? Someone is trying to clone a human at this time. It is only a matter of time till the announcement comes, if it ever is announced. Maybe Jurassic Park is a reality.

Works Cited

Begley, Sharon. Little Lamb Who Made Thee? Newsweek. March 10,1997 vCXXIX

n10 p.52.

Kiernan, Vincent, ed. The morality of cloning humans. The Chronicles of High Education. July 18, 1997 v43 n45 p. A13(2).

Macklin, Ruth. Human Cloning? Don t just say no. U.S. News & World Report.

March 10,1997 v122 n9 p. 64(1).

McKinnell, Robert Gilmore. Cloning A Biologists Reports. University of Minnesota

Press, 1979


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