HUMAN CLONING right or wrong?
Never since Galileo’s put forward his model of a world, where planets rotate around the sun, has there been such controversy around a scientific issue, as that surrounding Human Cloning. Despite the UN’s decision on Human Cloning on 8/3/2005, asking countries “to adopt all measures necessary to prohibit all forms of human cloning in as much as they are incompatible with human dignity and the protection of human life” , the world remains in disagreement about this issue. This report attempts to examine the various aspects in relation to the technical and ethical issues relation to human cloning.
For over many years, the cloning of living beings has been only an aspect of science fiction. Despite the constant display of cloning within the media in movies, magazines and books which are based on the creation of humans from cloning, their scientific credibility has been dismissed by the general public. The creation of life through cloning was often seen as a mere fantasy that scientists were trying to achieve.
Now scientists have cloned animals, they are even closer to discovering how create human life through cloning something that was once considered a complete and utter myth. Although scientists have not perfected the cloning of many animals for instance dolly the sheep who died at and early age from of lung cancer and other complications. This raises a number of ethical issues leaving many unanswered questions such as Is human cloning ethically right?, Should it be allowed?, What are the possible benefits and consequences that may arise from Human cloning?, How would these new clones be accepted in society and Are scientists trying to play the role of God by interfering with nature?
In this case study I shall touch upon what is cloning?, Why it matters?, What are peoples views on cloning?, How are these people influenced and what they are influenced by? The purpose of this case study is to present the facts, recent statistics and current views on human cloning. The case study shall challenge the ethics behind human cloning and present a balanced argument stating the possible consequences and benefits that may arise from human cloning. Ultimately I shall come to a conclusion on whether human cloning is ethically right by carefully balancing the scientific data provided and closely assessing socio-economic factors which could be affected.
The subject of human cloning has been chosen for this case study because it is regarded as highly controversial, it is an appealing and a captivating issue that is widely debated by many governmental and religious groups. In addition the advances in the growing industry of science and technology have led us to discuss the potential powers that human cloning may in bring in the future such as cures to diseases like cancer and heart disease.
Cloning is the process of genetically creating an identical copy of an organism. When we think of the word cloning, it tends to make us think of extremely mad scientists, with yellow teeth and the urge to do the unthinkable. Although cloning may have many advantages in store such as curing diseases, there also different types of cloning I will be speaking about this soon. There are three main types of cloning:-
1. Reproductive Cloning
Technology used to generate an animal that has the same nuclear DNA as another currently or previously existing animal. Dolly was created by reproductive cloning technology. In a process called “somatic cell nuclear transfer” (SCNT), scientists transfer genetic material from the nucleus of a donor adult cell to an egg whose nucleus, and thus its genetic material, has been removed. The reconstructed egg containing the DNA from a donor cell must be treated with chemicals or electric current in order to stimulate cell division. Once the cloned embryo reaches a suitable stage, it is transferred to the uterus of a female host where it continues to develop until birth.
2. Therapeutic Cloning
Also called “embryo cloning,” is the production of human embryos for use in research. The goal of this process is not to create cloned human beings, but rather to harvest stem cells that can be used to study human development and to treat disease. Stem cells are important to biomedical researchers because they can be used to generate virtually any type of specialized cell in the human body. Stem cells are extracted from the egg after it has divided for 5 days. The egg at this stage of development is called a blastocyst. The extraction process destroys the embryo, which raises a variety of ethical concerns. Many researchers hope that one day stem cells can be used to serve as replacement cells to treat heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and other diseases.
3. DNA Cloning
DNA to be cloned is cut into fragments by the restriction enzymes. Such enzymes occur naturally in some bacteria, where they stop viral reproduction by cutting up viral DNA. They restrict the growth of viruses and hence the name. The fragment of DNA is inserted into a vector by DNA ligase, which is another bacterial enzyme that seals any breaks in a DNA molecule.
The most common vector is plasmid, which is a small ring of DNA removed from bacteria. Gene splicing is complete when a recombinant DNA (DNA containing fragments from two or more different sources) has been prepared. After the recombined plasmid is taken up by a host cell, cloning is achieved when the host cell and the recombinant DNA of the plasmid reproduce either the cloned gene or a protein product (produced by the gene).
How does human cloning work
One common method scientists may use to clone humans is, somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), this method was used to clone the famous Dolly the sheep. SCNT begins when doctors take the egg from a donor and remove the nucleus of the egg, creating an enucleated egg. A cell, which contains DNA, is then taken from the person who is being cloned. The enucleated egg is then fused together with the cloning subject’s cell using electricity. This creates an embryo, which is implanted into a surrogate mother through in vitro fertilization (IVF). If the procedure is successful, then the surrogate mother will give birth to a baby that is a clone of the cloning subject at the end of a normal development period. The success rate is only about one or two out of 100 embryos. This is why it took 277 attempts to create Dolly.
Dolly the Sheep
Dolly the sheep was famous for being the first ever mammal cloned from an adult cell; previous clones have been from embryo cells. She was first created in the year 1996 July 5th more than a decade ago. Dolly was cloned by a team from the Roslin institute in Scotland. The team was lead by Professor Ian Wilmut who intended to take on this mighty challenge. This has been regarded as one of the biggest scientific breakthroughs in history. Dr Ian Wilmit embryologist said “It will enable us to study genetic diseases for which there is presently no cure”.
Although this breakthrough has also raised moral dilemmas and along with fears that this technique could be used to clone humans. Dr Ian Wilmut made a bold statement by describing Human cloning as “repugnant and Illegal”. Unfortunately, in 2003 Dolly was so ill dolly she had to be put down after a veterinary exam showed progressive lung disease and a number of other complications. Dolly’s body has been preserved in the national museum of Scotland.
This cloning technique also proved to be extremely inefficient as it took “277” eggs in an attempt to clone dolly the sheep. This also raises another question whether it would be ethical to sacrifice that many human embryos just for one life. Who are we to decide who shall die and who lives? but isn’t everyone entitled to a second chance? And how many human embryos will have to be sacrificed if we want to clone one?
How was Dolly the Sheep Cloned?
The following diagram shows the process that was used to clone Dolly the sheep. It is also one of the techniques used for cloning animals.
- First, a cell (the donor cell) was selected from the udder cells of a Finn Dorset sheep to provide the genetic information for the clone. For this experiment, the researchers allowed the cell to divide and form a culture in vitro, or outside of an animal. This produced multiple copies of the same nucleus. This step only becomes useful when the DNA is altered, such as in the case of Dolly, because then the changes can be studied to make sure that they have taken effect.
- The donor cell is grown in a Petri/culture dish.
- A donor cell was taken from the culture and then starved in a mixture which had only enough nutrients to keep the cell alive.
- This culture dish barely has enough nutrients to keep the cell alive.
- This caused the cell to begin shutting down all active genes and enter the G0 stage. The egg cell of a Blackface ewe was then enucleated and placed next to the donor cell. One to eight hours after the removal of the egg cell, an electric pulse was used to fuse the two cells together and, at the same time, activate the development of an embryo.
- The enucleated egg cell and the mammary cell are fusing together.
- This technique for replicates the activation provided by sperm is not completely correct, since only a few electrically activated cells survive long enough to produce an embryo.
- If the embryo survives, it is allowed to grow for about six days, incubating in a sheep’s oviduct. It has been found that cells placed in oviducts early in their development are much more likely to survive than those incubated in the lab.
- Finally, the embryo is placed into the uterus of a surrogate mother ewe. That ewe then carries the clone until it is ready to give birth. Assuming nothing goes wrong, an exact copy of the donor animal is born.
- This newborn sheep has all of the same characteristics of a normal newborn sheep.
The Ethics of Cloning by Leon R. Kass, the noted teacher, scientist, and humanist, and James Q. Wilson, the preeminent political scientist to whom four U.S. presidents have turned for advice on crises in American life. And Timmons, Mark (2005). Disputed Moral Issues. New York: Oxford University Press (ISBN: 9780195177633), are the guiding tools towards developing an understating of this matter.
The key objectives to Human Cloning are:-
- That human cloning constitutes unethical experimentation.
- That human cloning threatens identity and individuality.
- That human cloning turns procreation into manufacture.
- That human cloning means dictatorship over children and the perversion of parenthood.
The Revulsion of Cloning
“Most people are repelled by nearly all aspects of human cloning.”
- Mass production of human beings;
- The idea of mother-daughter or father-son “twins”;
- The idea of a woman bearing and rearing a genetic copy of herself, her spouse, or a deceased loved one;
- The idea of conceiving a child as an exact “replacement” for another who has died;
- The successful creation of duplicates of oneself for “spare parts”;
- The idea of humans “playing God”…
- Revulsion is not an argument… but it may reflect an intuition that something has been violated.
- “We sense that cloning represents a profound defilement of our given nature as procreative beings, and of the social relations built on this natural ground.”
The Great Debate
The following discussion will be a series of arguments against and for cloning. The first discussion will look at it in an ethical aspect whereas the second discussion will look at the scientific aspects.
- Human Cloning Constitutes Unethical Experimentation
- Cloning could easily be used to reproduce living or deceased persons without their consent.
- The success rate of cloning (at least at first) will probably not be very high.
- Fewer than two to three percent of all animal cloning attempts have succeeded.
- Before Dolly was created, Scottish scientists transferred 277 adult nuclei into sheep eggs and implanted 29 clonal embryos. Dolly was the only living result.
- Many of the so-called “successes” have included major disabilities and deformities.
- There is good reason to think the same sort of success rate would be found in attempts at human cloning.
- “We cannot ethically even get to know whether or not human cloning is feasible.” (332)
- 2. Human Cloning Threatens Identity and Individuality
- Even if human cloning were successful, the clone may experience concerns about his distinctive identity:
- The person to whom he is identical will be his “father” or “mother”.
- Virtually no one will be able to treat his clone as he would a traditional child. Inequality in standards of communication amongst clones. This will cause major inequality with in society.
- “What will happen when the adolescent clone of Mommy becomes the spitting image of the woman with whom Daddy once fell in love?”
- The life of the clone will constantly be scrutinized in relation to that of the older version.
- The matter will only be worse for the clone of somebody famous.
- The diversity of life immensely decreases
- Confusion; people would not be able to tell their friends apart from another clone.
- 3. Human Cloning Turns Procreation into Manufacture
- Human cloning would represent a giant step toward turning procreation into manufacture.
- Steps have already been made in this direction with in vitro fertilization and genetic testing of embryos.
- Children would become simply another kind of man-made thing, with prospective “parents” adopting a technocratic attitude towards their children.
- “The problem is that any child whose being, character, and capacities exist owing to human design does not stand on the same plane with its makers.”
- The effect is the dehumanization of children and the lack of variation in human life.
- Eugenics: Human cloning would most certainly lead to eugenics. Eugenics is the attempt to improve human beings not by improving there social, financial or educational opportunities Eugenics is more about improving a persons physical features eg having blue eyes, blond hair and being tall. Scientists can do this modifying certain traits.
- 4. Human Cloning leads to dictatorship over Children and distortion of Parenthood
- Normally, in producing children, we embrace the novelty of the child, and accept the limits of our control.
- Reproduction by human cloning will create a “profound misunderstanding” of the parent-child relationship.
- Children are not our property or possessions.
- Children are supposed to live their own lives, not ours.
- Whereas most parents have hopes for their children, cloning parents will have expectations.
- “Cloning “seeks to makes one’s children after one’s own image (or an image of one’s choosing) and their future according to one’s will.”
- Children will hold their cloners fully responsible for their nature and their nurture.
- Human Cloning could save many lifes
- Cloning could easily be used to reproduce living or deceased persons this could end the pain and suffering.
- The success rate of cloning (at least at first) will probably not be very high.
- 2. The Quality of Humans could be improved
- Super humans could be created and drafted into the military and police offering better protection to society
- People could become more intelligent and offer more to society this will also reduce crime and help us advance our living a lot more
- This could also enhance evolution since humans would have all the necessary characteristics to adapt to changes in the environment over time
- People can live longer and are generally happier
The Scientific Debate
To develop new organs for transplantation in humans. This could decrease the time a patient waits for a transplant
- To obtain human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) for Regenerative Medicine
- To generate an identical twin of an existing or previously existing individual
- To engineer the clone of an individual with a genetic disorder such that the clone would be identical except for the “repaired” gene
- ES cells could be derived from donated, or “abandoned” or “orphaned” embryos
For transplantation of immunologically identical tissue
I have thought about this for an extremely long time and I have come to the decision that cloning should not be allowed. As I feel that as science and technology grows at an alarming rate we are starting to loose the morals and ethical thoughts that keep our society in place. Instead of focusing too much on breaking the boundaries of science we should stop and think about the possible consequences that may arise. Although I feel cloning shouldn’t be allowed all together as we are interfering with nature. Without a shadow of doubt, I believe that some scientists are trying to play the role of god after all who are we to decide who lives and dies? Despite the rights that everyone is entitled to for example have a chance to give birth or become smarter. Although it would be unfair for us to intervene, it’s up to those people to find alternatives and feel happy and secure with themselves.
In addition I feel cloning is the short cut to curing people’s insecurities or hardship’s. I also predict that cloning may bring huge medical advances but these will only be bought out by big commercial and military companies sidelining those infertile couples, cancer patients and people who aren’t high up in the social class ladder. This means actual stakeholders (people who are the target or people who are affected) for cloning will be at loss since the technology supposedly designed for them will leave them out, only to be given to those who are more privileged. This will create major inequality and may cause wars and riots as a result.
Furthermore I think human cloning is a by product of greed and ignorance from other scientists. Enhancing evolution would be extremely unfair towards other species cloning could prepare most of us for any change in the environment by equipping us with the appropriate characteristics, this will make it virtually impossible for the human race to become extinct which could lead to immortality. I also strongly believe scientists have leaped over the line along time ago and should put and end to this before anymore people are affected.
- Is Human Reproductive Cloning Inevitable: Future Options for UN Governance
- United Nations University, Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS), 6F International Organizations Center, Pacifi co-Yokohama, 1-1-1 Minato Mirai, Nishi-ku, Yokohama 220-8502, Japan, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.ias.unu.edu
- Human Cloning, CRS Report for Congress – February 25, 2002, Judith A. Johnson, Specialist in Life Sciences
- Domestic Social Policy Division
- Human Cloning : “A bridge too far” , A Presentation by the Hon Tony Abbott MP www.adelaide.catholic.org.au/sites/OfficeforFamilyandlife/media/files/995.ppt
- United States. Department of Energy. Office of Science. “Cloning Fact Sheet.” 29 Aug. 2006. Human Genome Project Information. http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/elsi/cloning.shtml
- Cloning: A Beginner’s Guide Aaron D. Levine is an Assistant Professor in the School of Public Policy at Georgia Tech. His research focuses on the interface between bioethics and public policy. Specifically, he studies the impact of ethical controversy on scientific research, with a particular emphasis on emerging biomedical technologies. His recent work has focused on stem cell policy and includes several assessments of the impact of the unusual regulatory environment on the international development of human embryonic stem cell science.