Technology is changing the world as we know it. Not all of these advances in technology are viewed as positive. One of the breakthroughs that has received mixed responses is the issue of cloning. There has been much debate on this topic, and the debate is certain to rage on for many years to come. You may be asking yourself: What is cloning? How can I benefit from cloning? Is cloning legal? Why should we clone human beings? What is the world community doing to control cloning? I hope to answer these and other questions throughout the course of this paper.
What is cloning? According to the Human Cloning Foundation (HCF1998), cloning is a scientific process in which a strand of DNA from one organism with the egg cell of another which creates a genetically matched life form. The actual merging process between the cells is called Nuclear Transfer. In this process the nucleus of one donor cell is removed and placed into a lab dish and starved of nutrients; it is then placed into a lab dish with a fertilized egg cell. Naturally, the cell that was starved will try to fuse with the healthy cell but it will need a little help.
These two cells are then electrified thereby causing the two cells to fuse together combining their genetic structures. Now that we have established the scientific basis of cloning, let me tell you how cloning can directly benefit humanity. There are many health issues that can be avoided, reversed and cured by the cloning of human cells and body parts. With the aid of cloning technology, couples that have suffered infertility would be able to have their own biological children. Cloning technology may potentially be used to completely reverse the effects of heart attacks.
It is a distinct possibility that scientists will be able replace the heart tissue cells damaged during a heart attack by cloning the specific tissue cells and injecting them into damaged area of the heart, thus causing the tissue in those areas to regenerate. Considering that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U. S. (New England Journal of Medicine 1998), the implementation of these life saving techniques would be a major break through in the medical professions fight against heart disease.
The fields of cosmetic, plastic and reconstructive surgery may also benefit from cloning technology. You may be aware that countless numbers of women are suffering from immune system diseases, due to breast augmentation and other cosmetic surgical procedures. According to the human cloning foundation (1999), women will no longer suffer diseases of their immune system due to breast implants and other cosmetic procedure’s thanks to dermal tissue cloning techniques. Accident victims who have suffered deformity will no longer have to introduce foreign materials into their bodies, to repair damage.
Amputees will be able to receive new limbs without the fear that the limb may be rejected by the body, it will be their own lost limb regenerated through the process of cloning. These new and innovative advances in reconstrctive surgery will allow doctors to repair or replace bone, fat , connective tissues, cartilage all through the process of cloning, the possibilities are virtually endless. Downs syndrome, cystic fibrosis, liver disease, kidney failure, Tay-Sachs disease and leukemia could all be eliminated through defective gene elimination; cancer could be irradicated as well.
There are innumerable applications of cloning technology in the medical profession. To discount or ignore this technology would be a step backwards in the evolution of mankind. Concerning the legality of cloning, there are three states known to have banned human cloning, placing a five year moratorium until further studies can be conducted. California is among this group which also includes Rhode Island and Michigan. The penalties for violating the laws in the aforementioned states are very stiff.
For instances, in California, if you are convicted of attempting to clone or successfully cloning a human being you will pay a one-million dollar fine, instantly and permanently lose your medical or professional license and serve up to ten years in state prison (HCF 1999). As far as the federal law is concerned, President Clinton recently enacted an executive order which banns the use of any federal funds toward cloning research (HFC 1999). The Food And Drug (FDA) has stated that it will not endorse or approve human cloning until such a time when cloning can be shown to be safe and effective.
Although the federal and individual state governments are not willing to fund any of the cloning research they will be the first ones in line to regulate and reap the benefits when cloning techniques are perfected. The governments will bare none of the risk, yet stand to gain substantially. It occurs to me that there is something fundamentally wrong with this concept. The governments should embrace the opportunity to further not only the interests of the United States, but the interests of humanity as a whole.
This includes providing funding for, and endorsing cloning research. The ban on human cloning should be reconsidered. The positive aspects that cloning has to offer are entirely to great to ignore. Recently the United Nations has adopted a declaration against cloning. The declaration calls on all nations around the globe to ban reproductive cloning (HCF 1999 ). There are more reasons to clone human beings than just the medical breakthroughs of curing infertility, eliminating disease and extending human life spans. How about saving endangered spices of animals and plants.
Imagine all of the species of life on this planet that may never have become extinct if were able to clone. Never again would we be forced to stand by idly, watching as a great animal becomes little more than a fossil. Cloning would allow us to make extended journeys into our universe. By perpetuating our physical selves scientifically, we could embark on space journeys of infinite distances. We would have the ability to reproduce a physical facsimile of a child lost to a tragic accident. A pet with exactly the same genetic disposition could be recreated to replace a lost or deceased one.
The farming and live stock industries have already taken advantage of cloning technology to improve the quality as well as the quantity of their production. By genetically breeding cattle, the beef industry has all but eliminated certain bacterial diseases which pose a danger to beef consumers(ABC News 20/20 1998). Almost all of the vegetables we eat and plants we grow in are gardens are hybrids. A hybrid is a combination of two or more different genetic structures which when spliced create a superior structure. For example, a rose that can thrive in near freezing temperatures.
Or in the case of live stock, a bull that is twenty to thirty percent larger without the use of artificial growth hormones or additives, the same goes for fowl such as chicken and turkey. These hybrids or clones, allow us to maximize the potential of any particular structure. The issue of morality has been addressed by both pro and anti cloning factions. There is no doubt that there are moral issues involved in the artificial creation of life. Like most decisions regarding the morality of a specific issue, they are best made when a person feel that they have sufficiently explored all of the avenues of that issue.
There is an ancient Buddhist proverb that says, Never allow your emotions to make a decision without the benefit of your intellect. This is a sound bit of advice, especially for a decision which will impact the world and mankind as we know it. However, after a review of the information you will find that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. That is not to say that cloning is flawless. There are several aspects of the scientific process, which will require years of development to perfect. Dolly the sheep was the first mammal to be successfully cloned.
There are suspicions that Dolly may have a cellular defect. This defect cannot be traced as of yet, but scientists are speculating that the genetic defect may cause an acceleration in the aging process of the cells. (Reaney 1999). There are genetic signs that Dolly will age prematurely. New studies are showing that although Dolly is only three years old, she is aging at the rate of the six year old sheep from which she was cloned (AP- Verrengia 1999). These are issues that science has to address if they want cloning to receive the acceptance of the masses.
Throughout the world there are many different beliefs, value systems and moral barometers. Whos right? Whos wrong? Is this an issue of right and wrong? To clone or not to clone is not the question. Cloning is the future. The question is, how near in the future. According to some scientists the future is now, it is just a matter of perfecting cloning techniques. They can prove their position with physical evidence, test results and living multi-cellular organisms, mammals, conceived through the love of science.
Other scientists say that we are not ready to handle the responsibility of scientific recreation. This group offers us no evidence, no proof, only the fear that humans can not handle empowerment of technology. Cloning offers innumerable benefits to society. However, there are certain risks involved with the power of creation. It will ultimately be the responsibility of the societies that utilize cloning technology, to exercise good judgement and prudent decision making The ultimate decision of whether cloning is acceptable or not, lies within each of us as individuals.