CLONING Essay, Research Paper
To Clone or Not to Clone?
In February 1997, when Dr. Ian Wilmut and his team of scientists in Scotland astonished the
world by announcing that they had successfully cloned a sheep, it sparked an international
debate. Since the invention of Dolly, scientists have been faced with the imminent technology to
clone human beings. This has raised questions about what it means to be human and what
restrictions should be placed on scientific research.
Scientists should use methods of cloning of individual human cells because it provides
benefits of curing diseases and regrowth of damaged organs or tissues. However, scientists
should not clone whole adult human beings because of the violation of moral, ethical, and
religious concerns. Hence, scientists must separate making spare body parts from making whole
Compton?s Interactive Encyclopedia defines cloning as:
The production of duplicate copies of genetic material, cells, or entire multicellular living
organisms. The copies are referred to as clones. Cloning occurs naturally and is also
engineered by human beings. The possibility that people might be cloned from the cells of
a single adult human had long been a subject primarily of fantasy and science fiction but
became very definite at the end of the 20th century. This possibility stemmed from the
successful cloning of lower mammals, leaving little doubt in many scientists? minds that
humans could and would one day be cloned. (1)
In nature, and even in the lives of humans, clones are present. A clone is an organism that
has the same genetic information as another organism. Cloning occurs with all plants, some
insects, algae, and even humans. Identical twins are clones of each other. They have the same
exact genetic information due to the division of an embryo in early development which produces
two identical embryos. Thus, natural cloning already exists. Cloning is currently a technology
that many people could use.
The benefits that cloning could offer range from improving conventional animal breeding to
eliminating any desirable genes in humans. Scientists are also pondering the idea of cloning
endangered species to increase their population. The possibilities are endless. However,
scientists are doing much of the research to benefit human life.
Agriculture may benefit greatly from cloning research. Livestock breeders could utilize the
cloning techniques to produce more consistent products. For example, a cow that has very tasty
meat could be cloned so that a farmer or corporation would have a whole herd that produces
very tasty meat. Therefore, a more consistent product might stabilize prices farmers receive for
their meat, which would benefit small farms. This type of benefit could be extended to most
livestock. It might be possible that animals could carry out genetic alterations that could remove
some hereditary human diseases. These animals would then produce human proteins in milk.
In the New York Times, Gina Kolata reveals, ?cloning could also improve the agricultural
industry as the technique of nuclear transfer improves, livestock can produce biological proteins
helping people who have diseases including diabetes, Parkinson?s, and Cystic Fibrosis? (A3).
Cloning could offer a means of curing diseases or offer a technique that could provide
healthy organs and tissues for people who need them. For example, in a Time magazine article
?The Case For Cloning?, one writer talks of more benefits through cloning.
She elaborates by saying, ?An elderly man develops macular degeneration, a disease that
destroys vision. To bolter his failing eyesight, he receives a transplant of healthy retinal tissue
? cloned from his own cells and cultivated in a lab dish?( Nash 6 ). In the same article
Madeleine Nash also states, ?A baby girl is born free of the gene that causes Tay-Sachs disease,
even though both her parents are carriers. The reason? In the embryonic cell from which she
was cloned, the flawed gene was replaced with normal DNA? (6).
Cloning could offer new hope for couples who aren?t able to have children. Also cloning
could provide a new alternative for single women who would like to have children. Some
scientists are already exploring these avenues of research. For example, a scientist by the name
of Richard Seed plans to clone babies for infertile couples.
Jeff Flock, a reporter for CNN says, ?Seed, who is not a medical doctor ,says he has already
assembled a group of doctors willing to work with him and has four couples who have
volunteered to be cloned. Seed plans to use the same technique utilized by Scottish scientists in
1996 to clone the adult sheep Dolly. If he is barred from pursuing his work in the United States,
he plans to go to another country. He said he has talked with officials in Mexico, and also was
considering the Bahamas.? Seed says, ?Cloning and the reprogramming of DNA is the first
serious step in becoming one with God? (1).
Starting in Chicago, Seed plans to set up profitable human clone clinics nationally.
Roger Highfield disputes, ?whatever the Seed brothers are telling their human clients, they
are certainly not able to tell them what the risks might be, since no one yet knows the range or
magnitude of risks in primates, let alone humans? (10).
All of these are good reasons for cloning, but who is to say that this technology should be
used in the first place? There are several reasons for banning cloning and numerous dangers
associated with the cloning of humans. It?s much easier to clone sheep or goats than humans,
and according to the facts, it took over two hundred tries to produce one cloned sheep; the
unsuccessful attempts were simply discarded.
In Robert Marquands article he confirms, ?An experiment to clone humans would require
repeated efforts, with the possibility of many failures in ?test? cases leading to success. Dolly
the sheep took 277 tries, with a number of ugly mistakes, before a healthy and complete sheep
was born. Experiments with humans could take between 100 and 1,000 tries, some geneticists
speculate? ( 2 ).
Are scientists to place this kind of value on human life? If this is true, they have crossed the
line in scientific experimentation. Even the scientist who created Dolly, Dr. Wilmut and his
coworkers believe that it would be unethical to try and clone humans. The House Majority
leader Dick Armey submitted a statement to the House Commerce Committee in support of a
permanent ban on human cloning. Armey states: ?Cloning humans is wrong. It should be
banned permanently, without loopholes, throughout the United States.? He continues, ?the
international destruction of living human embryos is unethical and unacceptable. If an embryo
is dividing and developing, it is a member of the human family and deserves our respect. And
destroying it is repugnant to the American public? (2).
The United States lags behind many other nations that have already placed bans on human
cloning. Nineteen European nations have signed an agreement to prohibit the genetic replication
of humans, some of these nations include: Britain, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, and
Spain. Bills were introduced to Congress in 1997 that would prohibit cloning humans and
outlaw federal funding for research in human cloning, but several scientists have urged Congress
to delay action until the commission makes its recommendations. Clinton established the
National Bioethics Advisory Commission in 1995. It?s chaired by Princeton University
President Harold Shapiro, and includes experts from science, law, philosophy, theology and
industry. Two years after the Commission was created, they were faced with intense public
debate to address the issues of human cloning.
Despite the arguments from scientists who urged the commission not to rush judgement with
bans that could prevent human cloning and research, the commission approved The Human
Cloning Research Prohibition Act. This bill prohibits federal funds from being used for research
that includes the use of a human somatic cell nuclear transfer technology to produce an embryo;
in other words, it bans federal funding of human cloning.
As Deborah Mathis notes, ?their proposal would make it a crime to create human embryos by
swapping DNA in a process called somatic cell transfer. Violators would be subject to up to 10
years in prison and fines as high as $250,000″ ( B3 ).
There are moral and ethical reasons for banning human cloning. Humans are a treasured life
form and should protect the dignity of human life. It is wrong to use cloning to experiment with
the creation of human life. Cloning is an insult to religious beliefs. It seems like scientists are
playing God, and cloning interferes with the natural process that God has mapped out for people.
In his article, Steve Berg writes, ?The cloning of humans is a form of ?God play? that violates
individual human dignity. Believing that God created humans in God?s own image means that
every human being is important, that none is disposable, that each has a part in living out God?s
creation, and that each is responsible to God for the life he or she lives, scholars say? (E7).
Religious organizations consider nuclear transfer would cause men to be reproductively
obsolete. This claim was drawn from the gathering of information that cloning requires only any
cell and a woman to develop in. They also claim that cloning does not respect the fact that
humans have souls. Cloning and genetic engineering both attempt to take the gene pool out of
the hands of natural selection and into the hands of humans.
Genetic engineering adds a new dimension into the picture. It would allow scientists not only
to duplicate humans, but to perfect them as well. This seems beneficial when trying to destroy
genetic diseases, but it quickly turns into serious moral and social conflicts. When people
decide what genes to place into the population, and which to leave out, then they are in a sense
playing God. Human cloning and genetic engineering would inevitably turn into the search for
the perfect human.
Throughout history mankind has been full of societies and cultures in which one type of race
is valued over another. In China, for example the killing of baby girls was a common practice
because of a law which permitted only one child. Males where more valuable in their culture, so
females were selectively exterminated. Also, Nazi Germany killed Jews, homosexuals, and
other imperfect people in order to create the perfect Aryan race. Eugenics such as these would
have been even easier by cloning and genetic engineering. Instead of exterminating people who
didn?t fit the standards of perfection, entire populations could be made to fit the mold.
The problem with this perfect society in mind is the decline of genetic diversity. Diversity
makes life and human interaction interesting. People were given different genetics for a reason.
One reason may be the likely hood of a disease or virus that could result in destroying an entire
population. Another reason is that cloning could interfere with the process of natural evolution.
It is essential that other areas of genetic research and non-human cloning research continue.
Scientists are making great strides in understanding the underlying causes of diseases,
developing potential cures, and pursuing other promising areas of research. Because of the
moral, ethical, and religious concerns raised by the cloning of humans, it would be beneficial to
explore the direct use of individual human cells to produce tissues or organs for transplantation
As of yet, there has been no potential good use for the cloning of humans, so maybe scientists
should consider holding off on human cloning. There is more important scientific research that
these talented scientist could be working on.
Armey, Dick. ?Testimony in support of a Permanent Ban on Human Cloning to the House
Commerce Committee.? 12 Feb 1998. Capitol Hill Press. 2 Dec 1998
Berg, Steve. ?Begotten not Made?? Minneapolis Star 26 Apr 1997: E7+
?Cloning.? Comptons Interactive Encycopedia. 1999ed.
Flock, Jeff. ?Who is Richard Seed?? 9 Jan. 1998. CNN Interactive [www document] URL
Highfield, Roger. ?Science: What next: Vicky the Clone?? Daily Telegraph 5 Dec. 1999: 10+
Kolata, Gina. ?Lab yields Lamb with Human Gene.? New York Times 2 Dec.1997: A2+
Marquand, Robert. ?Cloning Bolts Ahead………….Toward People?? Christian Science Monitor
22 Jan. 1998: 1-3
Mathis, Deborah. ?Senators offer a Bill that would Ban Human Cloning.? Gannett News
2 Mar. 1998: B3+
Nash, Madeleine. ?The Case for Cloning.? Time 9 Feb.1998:15-18