Cloning was introduced in 1997 by a group of scientists at the Roslin Institute in Scotland. Their successful clone of the sheep “Dolly” thrust them and the topic of cloning onto the national scene. Unfortunately a great deal of people believed that cloning was morally wrong, and it shouldn’t be performed under any circumstances. Ever since 1997 until the present day cloning has been under a great deal of scrutiny, but scientists continue to advance themselves in the field despite people’s objections.
The term clone itself is “an umbrella term traditionally used by scientists to describe different processes for duplicating biological material.” The form of cloning that scientists performed in Scotland to duplicate “Dolly” the sheep is known as Reproductive Cloning, which is one of three types of cloning. Reproductive cloning is the most widely known form of cloning, but what is little known is that cloning is used for purposes other than genetic duplication.
Recombinant DNA Technology is a form of cloning used to generate duplications of a material so scientists can further their study on that particular material. Recombinant DNA Technology has been used since the 1970’s and is now a common practice in molecular biology labs. The actual process used to carry out “DNA Cloning” is similar to the process a virus follows to duplicate itself and infect. Only the “DNA Cloning” process is monitored very closely and is an extremely complicated and intricate procedure.
Therapeutic Cloning is the final type of cloning that is currently in use, and is the most controversial of the three. More formerly known as “stem-cell research” the process that is involved in harvesting these “stem cells” is where controversy arises. “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 that takes place destroys the embryo (1).” The ultimate goal of Therapeutic Cloning is to one day use those harvested stem cells to serve as replacement cells to treat heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and other diseases. As of now Therapeutic Cloning is still in its very early stages of development. The first successful experiment conducted was in November of 2001 at the Advanced Cell Technologies lab in Massachusetts. The goal of this experiment was to take the egg from a woman’s embryo and make that egg the nucleus of the cell they wanted to duplicate, if the experiment was a success the cells would begin to divide and duplicate themselves. There were a total of eight eggs extracted from embryos and of the eight eggs only three began to successfully divide and duplicate themselves.
Cloning of course is not as easily carried out as it may seem. It is an extremely expensive and inconsistent procedure. Ninety percent of the time the cloning process doesn’t even produce living offspring. When a clone is lucky enough to survive birth it generally lives a short and unhealthy life. Scientists have stated that during the cloning process the subject’s immune system is compromised, which can cause a premature death in the clone. Even when a clone seems to be living a relatively healthy life, it will die without any sort of prior indications. This is why several people are against cloning because there are too many risks for the rewards. In fact the government has passed legislation that has prohibited human cloning in the United States based on the inefficiency of animal cloning. “With so many unknowns concerning reproductive cloning, the attempt to clone humans at this time is considered potentially dangerous and ethically irresponsible (1).” Quotes similar to this previous one are numerous and easy to come by. One scientist explained cloned monkey embryos as a “gallery of horrors.” Assuming that throughout the entire animal kingdom the monkey is the animal that shares the most characteristics with humans it is easy to see that if cloning a monkey creates a “gallery of horrors” imagine what it would do to a human.
The topic of cloning is a very interesting one because there are very few things in the United States that are currently as controversial as cloning. Cloning is also an extremely technical and unpredictable process, the idea that there is much more to learn in the field makes it very intriguing. As time goes on the topic of cloning will continue to become more and more controversial. As of now human cloning is out of the question because the current lack of knowledge, but a few years from now scientists will make several key discoveries making cloning a much more efficient process. With that new found knowledge scientists will be able to make a very persuading case to the House of Representatives concerning the subject of human cloning. Because of the tremendous positive possibilities cloning has the House may eventually experience a change of heart and vote in favor of cloning. The opportunity to have any organ on hand at anytime in case there is a need for an emergency transplant is a wonderful thing, but at what cost will these extra organs come. This is precisely where the ethical side of the argument lies. Is creating new life, only to sacrifice it later an ethical thing to do? Ultimately cloning, therapeutic and reproductive specifically, are harvesting parts of cloned human beings in order to replace those parts they have gone bad on naturally conceived human beings. Cloning in this fashion should most definitely be outlawed permanently. In some cases it is necessary to take risks in order to reap the benefits of the rewards, but here the risks easily outnumber the rewards.
The medical technology of this time is doing enough to save human lives. Death is a completely natural and necessary occurrence. Every person in the world that is under fifty years has at one time wished that all the old people on the planet would vanish. Scientists obviously do not understand what they’ll be doing extending the lives of eighty year-olds another twenty years. The last thing the world needs is an overabundance of old people. Florida is already overpopulated and Cadillac already sold a considerable amount of cars before old people unanimously decided that the Cadillac town car was the greatest car ever built.
To conclude my paper I would like to state, for the record, that cloning is for the birds. People live long enough as is, we don’t need to use extraordinary means to extend the lives of people who suck anyway.