cloning-good or bad?
Debate Rounds (5)
Badertscher E. Counterpoint: The Problem of Cloning. Points Of View: Cloning [serial online]. January 2013;:6. Available from: Points of View Reference Center, Ipswich, MA. Accessed March 20, 2014.
Thesis: Cloning is a risky and poorly understood procedure, despite its promise of medical benefits and claims that it could restore endangered species.
Summary: This article presents an argument on the problems associated with cloning research. Cloning is a risky and poorly understood procedure, despite its promise of medical benefits and claims that it could restore endangered species. As shown in the case of Dolly the sheep, the first cloned mammal, cloned creatures are at risk for numerous diseases and syndromes. There is also greater risk of genetic defects among clones, due to reduced genetic diversity. The cloning of fetal stem cells is particularly immoral, because it requires cells from aborted fetuses. The cloning of human beings is particularly distasteful, and shows humans' desire to "play God" regardless of the risks to the people born in this manner.
The cloning of plants and animals offers the prospect of bringing back extinct species. These range from the truly exotic (such as dinosaurs and mammoths), to more modern species such as the Tasmanian Tiger (Thylacine).
The Tasmanian Tiger, for example, is believed to have been extinct since the early twentieth century; the last known specimen died in 1936 in Tasmania's Hobart Zoo, but the Australian Museum has a Thylacine pup preserved in alcohol. Though the body is over a century old (dating from 1866), DNA could possibly be extracted and used to recreate the species.
Another prospect is to clone animals, such as sheep or pigs, for medical purposes such as organ transplantation. This is the same motive behind human cloning; parents whose child has a rare blood disease, for example, could be cloned in order to produce the necessary blood type for a cure.
Problems with Cloning
All these types of cloning offer technical or ethical problems. As Michael Crichton's novel "Jurassic Park" demonstrates, it's unwise to attempt something as complicated as cloning before understanding all the variables. The novelist deals extensively with "chaos theory" -- the idea that the natural loss of control can lead to unintended consequences. The book recounts a multi-millionaire's efforts to use fossil DNA to recreate dinosaurs, as the showpieces of his island theme park. Unfortunately, his research team fails to consider the possibility of mutations, and the dinosaurs quickly grow beyond the control of their masters and take over the island.
found from the above article:
Leaving the realm of fiction, cloning offers practical problems on several levels. First, there is the possibility that the animal or human clones may suffer additional medical problems. For example, Dolly the sheep died in February 2003, suffering from lung cancer and severe arthritis. She was only six years old, and her breed's normal life span is around 12 years. It also took hundreds of unsuccessful efforts before researchers were able to clone Dolly herself. One can only imagine the problems if someone tried to clone a human being, lacking sufficient knowledge and skill.
The larger issue, of course, is the ethical one. The cloning of plants or animals may have some use in aiding medical research. The cloning of human beings, however, should be permanently banned, as an offense to human dignity. The practice raises the possibility of babies born to bypass normal family structures, or to please parents' vanity, or to serve as providers of "spare parts" for sick relatives.
Cloning in Medicine
Cloning for medical purposes has the potential to benefit large numbers of people. How might cloning be used in medicine?
Cloning animal models of disease
Much of what researchers learn about human disease comes from studying animal models such as mice. Often, animal models are genetically engineered to carry disease-causing mutations in their genes. Creating these transgenic animals is a time-intensive process that requires trial-and-error and several generations of breeding. Cloning could help reduce the time needed to make a transgenic animal model, and the result would be a population of genetically identical animals for study.
Cloning to make stem cells
Stem cells build, maintain, and repair the body throughout our lives. Because these are processes that stem cells do naturally, they can be manipulated to repair damaged or diseased organs and tissues. But stem cells transferred from one person to another (such as in a bone marrow transplant) are seen as foreign, and they usually trigger an immune response.
Some researchers are looking at cloning as a way to create stem cells that are genetically identical to an individual. These cells could then beused for medical purposes, possibly even for growing whole organs. And stem cells cloned from someone with a disease could be grown in culture and studied to help researchers understand the disease and develop treatments.
In 2013, scientists at Oregon Health and Science University were the first to use cloning techniques to successfully create human embryonicstem cells. The donor DNA came from an 8-month-old with a rare genetic disease.
Reviving Endangered or Extinct Species
You might have seen the Jurassic Park movies. In the original feature film, based on the Michael Crichton novel, scientists use DNA preserved for tens of millions of years to clone dinosaurs. They run into trouble, however, when they realize that the cloned creatures were smarter and fiercer than expected. Could we really clone dinosaurs?
In theory? Yes. You would need:
`32;A well-preserved source of DNA from the extinct dinosaur, and
`32;A closely related species, currently living, that could serve as an egg donor and surrogate mother.
In reality? Probably not.
It's extremely unlikely that dinosaur DNA could survive undamaged for such a long time. However, scientists have been working to clone species that became extinct more recently, using DNA from well-preserved tissue samples. A number of projects are underway to clone extinct species, including the wooly mammoth.
In 2009, scientists had their first near-success resurrecting an extinct animal. Using goats as egg donors and surrogates, they made several clones of a wild mountain goat called the bucardo"but the longest-surviving clone died soon after birth. Even if the effort eventually succeeds, the only frozen tissue sample comes from a female, so it will only produce female clones. However, scientists speculate they may beable to remove one X chromossome and add a Y chromosome from a related goat species to make a male.
Cloning endangered species is much easier, mainly because the surviving animals can donate healthy, living cells. In fact, several wild species have been cloned already, including two relatives of cattle called the guar and the banteng, mouflon sheep, deer, bison, and coyotes. However, some experts are skeptical that cloning can help a species recover. One big challenge endangered species face is the loss of genetic diversity, and cloning does nothing to address this problem. When a species has high genetic diversity, there is a better chance that some individuals would have genetic variations that could help them survive an environmental challenge such as an infectious disease. Cloning also does not address the problems that put the species in danger in the first place, such as habitat destruction and hunting. But cloning may be one more tool that conservation scientists can add to their toolbox.
Reproducing a Deceased Pet
If you really wanted to, and if you had enough money, you could clone your beloved family cat. At least one biotechnology company in the United States has offered cat cloning services for the privileged and bereaved. But don't assume that your cloned kitty will be exactly the same as the one you know and love. An individual is a product of more than its genes"the environment plays an important role in shaping personality and many other traits.
On December 22, 2001, a kitten named CC made history as the first cat"and the first domestic pet"ever to be cloned. CC and Rainbow, the donor of CC's genetic material, are pictured at the right.
But do you notice something odd about this picture? If CC is a clone of Rainbow"an exact genetic copy"then why are they different colors?
The answer lies in the X chromosome. In cats, a gene that helps determine coat color resides on this chromosome. Both CC and Rainbow, being females, have two X chromosomes. (Males have one X and one Y chromosome.) Since the two cats have the exact same X chromosomes, they have the same two coat color genes, one specifying black and the other specifying orange.
Very early in her development, each of Rainbow's cells "turned off" oneentire X chromosome, thereby turning off either the black or the orange color gene. This process, called X-inactivation, happens normally in females, in order to prevent them from having twice as much X-chromosome activity as males. It also happens randomly, meaning that different cells turn off different X chromosomes.
So like all female mammals, Rainbow developed as a mosaic. Each cell that underwent X-inactivation gave rise to a patch of cells that had oneor the other coat color gene inactivated. Some patches specified black,other patches specified orange, and still others specified white, due to more complex genetic events. This is how all calico cats, like Rainbow, get their markings.
CC looks different because she was made from a somatic cell from Rainbow in which the X-chromosome with the orange gene had been inactivated; only the black gene was active. What's interesting is that, as CC developed, her cells did not change the inactivation pattern. Therefore, unlike Rainbow, CC developed without any cells that specified orange coat color. The result is CC's black and white tiger-tabby coat.
There are three types of cloning technologies: reproductive (adult DNA) cloning, therapeutic (biomedical) cloning, and recombinant DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) technology. Less than 10 percent of Americans support all three types of cloning. Many Roman Catholics and Protestants are ambivalent towards recombinant DNA technology, but view reproductive and therapeutic cloning as immoral. Other groups view one or more types of cloning as a gross intrusion on nature and animal rights, irrespective of religious issues.
Recombinant DNA technology was introduced in the 1970s and has since been used by basic science researchers to shed light on the molecular origins of disease. Recombinant DNA technology continues to be an important scientific tool and is generally not considered a controversial practice. However, the use of recombinant DNA technology to genetically modify fruits, vegetables, cotton, and other plants has come under fire in recent years. Public opinion polls show that the majority of Americans are dubious about the safety of genetically modified (GM) plants, which they believe are still in the experimental phase and pose unknown risks to human and animal health and the environment, as well as documented risks to non-GM crops. The increase in GM food production in the United States is not the result of wide public support, but rather a reflection of misrepresentation and secrecy by the food industry. The lack of food labeling legislation in the United States has also contributed to the continued distribution and consumption of unmarked GM foods. Many organizations are pushing for labels so that consumers can make informed choices about the foods they purchase.
Therapeutic cloning (also called biomedical cloning) utilizes stem cells obtained from human embryos to replicate human organs and tissue that may one day be used for transplants, or to generate treatments for Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, cancer, and other diseases. The debate over stem cell research refers to therapeutic cloning. For those who believe that life begins at conception and that all human life is sacred, embryonic stem cell research is considered profoundly wrong.
However, therapeutic cloning has gained favor among some moderate Christians, Jews, Muslims, and other religious groups who justify the use of some embryos to save human lives and to make new medical breakthroughs. As a result, several states have passed legislation that will help fund stem cell research that uses discarded embryos obtained from reproductive clinics. In 2007, Congress voted to support such a bill, but the legislation was ultimately vetoed by President George W. Bush. However, in 2009 President Barack Obama reversed the Bush ban on embryonic stem cell research in the U.S., promising to allocate federal funds for scientific research into new embryonic stem cell lines.
The issue of using embryos, regardless of their origin, may be a moot point in the near future. Scientists have discovered that stem cells can be obtained from sources other than embryos, including skin and other parts of the adult body. Stem cells obtained from embryos (known as embryonic stem cells) are more versatile because they can form any type of cell in the body, while adult stem cells are less controversial but can only differentiate into the type of tissue from which they were obtained. Although the uses of adult stem cells are more limited, this technology has garnered more public support.
The problem with therapeutic cloning, however, is that it represents a slippery slope that brings scientists one step closer to human reproductive cloning. Ultimately, therapeutic cloning may be used to justify all animal cloning as well. Reproductive cloning produces new life through the replication of DNA obtained from another individual. However, reproductive cloning is extremely problematic on legal, ethical and moral levels.
Reproductive Cloning is Unethical
Most nations object to human cloning. In 2005, the United Nations called on all countries of the world to ban human reproductive cloning, and at least 46 countries, including Canada, Australia, Mexico, Japan, and Germany, responded by instituting bans. The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Medical Association, and thousands of scientists throughout the world have also voluntarily imposed a moratorium on human cloning. Approximately 90 percent of Americans oppose human cloning, regardless of the reason.
The goal of reproductive cloning is to create new life by replicating an individual's DNA. The process that has been used successfully on animals is somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). The name sounds complicated, but the process is simple: Scientists remove the genetic material from an unfertilized female egg, then fill the egg with genetic material taken from an animal they want to clone. The embryo is implanted into a female and carried to term, just as with a normal pregnancy.
Reputable scientists state that human cloning has yet to be achieved and isn't being attempted despite previous claims of success from CLONAID, a company founded by members who believe that life on Earth was created by extraterrestrials. In 2008, a California-based biotechnology firm announced that they had successfully cloned embryos from adult human DNA. The claim has yet to be confirmed, but such reports are expected to increase in the future.
Why would anyone want to clone a human being? The answers range from those that engender the most sentimental response to those that provoke outrage: to reproduce a child lost early in life, to bring back a father or mother who died in Iraq, to clone geniuses and star athletes, to produce a winning team or an army. However, contrary to what many people believe, a clone will not necessarily display the same characteristics as the DNA donor. As scientists have determined in animal experiments, the skin color, temperament, or immune system of a cloned animal can be completely different. Although this is not at the heart of the ethical dilemma, it raises many questions. What would happen to the clone if the expectations of the cloner were not met?
Scientists are learning more about mammalian genetics every day, but there are still many unknowns regarding the functions and capabilities of DNA. Furthermore, scientists are still learning more about the genetic and environmental origins of behavioral, cognitive and emotional qualities that make each human an individual.
As if the philosophical questions and scientific uncertainties aren't enough to question the safety of cloning, this practice belongs to the multi-billion dollar biotech industry that stands to profit enormously from reproductive cloning. To date, biotech companies have applied for more than 4,000 patent requests on DNA sequences and genes from animals and humans. The United States government has yet to implement protective regulations. What are the potential consequences of big businesses owning such information?
Animals Have Rights, Too
Human cloning is still in the speculative stage, but animal cloning has almost become routine. Since Dolly, the cloned sheep, debuted scientists have successfully cloned other livestock, including cattle, pigs and goats. Mice, cows, pigs, rabbits, deer, goats, cats, and dogs have each undergone SCNT. The latest successes for the industry include racehorses and mules. The newborn clone is an exact genetic copy of its parent, allowing ranchers to propagate high-quality animals and ensure that the progeny will be first-rate.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the sale of meat and milk from cloned livestock in late 2006. But because the process is so expensive - upwards of $20,000 per clone - it's unlikely that cloned animals will end up in the meat market anytime soon. Instead, they will be used to breed and produce milk.
The majority of Americans (60 percent) believe cloning animals is morally wrong. As with genetically modified foods, labeling is the least that can be done to ensure that Americans can make intelligent choices. Many people may choose not to buy these products because of the unknown risks of consuming cloned meat, or because of the ethical problems surrounding animal cloning.
The pharmaceutical (biopharming) industry, which has been researching new ways to deliver medicine using cloned animals, raises additional ethical, environmental, and scientific concerns despite the good intentions behind such research.
Cloning is dangerous and harmful to animals. Deformities, lung tumors, heart defects, and disease are routine in cloned animals. They also experience higher percentages of premature births, miscarriages, and premature deaths.
The Center for Food Safety claims that over 90 percent of cloning attempts fail. Wayne Pacelle, senior vice president of the Humane Society of the United States, has cited an experiment performed by Texas A&M University on cloned pigs in which only 28 pigs survived from over 500 attempts, and one was born without an anus or a tail. Dolly the sheep, the first cloned mammal, took over 250 attempts, and in the end, she lived only half as long as normal sheep.
Animals are not just lumps of clay waiting to be molded or exploited for human use. Rather, these creatures are intelligent, capable of emotion, and feel pain. Researchers are continually learning more about the special qualities inherent in the animal kingdom. Owners of dogs, cats, and other pets often attest to the uniqueness of their animals, and most believe that pet cloning is offensive on basic principle.
Chimeras, or part animal and part human "creatures," may still be the stuff of science fiction but may eventually re
Programs are underway to clone agricultural animals, such as cattle and pigs, that are efficient producers of high-quality milk or meat.
A group of researchers at Utah State University led by Dr. Ken White, Dean of College of Agriculture & Applied Science, have been able to clone steer from slaughterhouse carcasses. Their aim isn't to produce animals for consumption"cloning is far more labor-intensive and expensive than conventional breeding methods. Instead, they want to use these animals as breeding stock.
The important thing to know about beef cattle is that the quality and yield of their meat can be assessed only after they are slaughtered. And male animals are routinely neutered when they're a few days old. That is, their testes are removed, so they are unable to make sperm. But cells from a high-quality carcass can be cloned, giving rise to an animal that is able, though conventional breeding methods, to pass its superior genes to its offspring.
Scientists have also cloned mules, a reproductively sterile hybrid of a male donkey and a female horse; dairy cows; and horses. One gelded racing horse, a male whose testes have been removed, has a clone that is available for breeding. Some of the cloned cows produce about twice as much milk as the average producer. And a cloned racing mule is ranked among the best in the world.
Farm animals such as cows, sheep, and goats are being genetically enngineered to produce drugs or proteins that are useful in medicine. Asan example, scientists could take cells from a cow that produces large amounts of milk and grow them in culture. Then they could insert a gene into the DNA of these cells that codes for a drug or a vaccine. If they take the nucleus from one of these cells and transfer it to a cow egg, it could develop into a cow that makes the drug in its milk. Since every cell in the cow would carry the drug gene, it could pass the gene to its offspring, creating a whole herd of drug-producing cows. Even better, we could avoid the issue of the genetic reshuffling that happensduring sexual reproduction and simply clone our drug-producing cow.
one more reason to go for the final round.
Potential Harms and Disadvantages
" The possibility of compromising individualities.
" Loss of genetic variation.
" A "black market" of fetuses may arise from desirable donors that will want to be able to clone themselves, i.e., movie stars, athletes, and others.
" Technology is not well developed. It has a low fertility rate. In cloning Dolly, 277 eggs were used, 30 started to divide, nine induced pregnancy, and only one survived to term (Nash).
" Clones may be treated as second-class citizens.
" Unknown psychosocial harms with impacts on the family and society
Lanza said cloned offspring have evidenced dozens of health problems, including obesity, seizures, tumors, severe cardiovascular problems, thymus problems and joint problems.
Many of the problems are not apparent at birth, and there"s not enough of a track record to determine the full array of maladies that could arise during a clone"s life.
Scientists suspect that the problems are linked to abnormalities in gene expression that arise during the cloning process. Some researchers have reported that the cells of cloned animals appear to have shorter telomeres " snippets of DNA at the ends of chromosomes that have been linked to the cellular aging process. They suggest that the telomeres may play a key role in the cloned animals" health problems, but other researchers aren"t so sure
The prospect of cloning humans is highly controversial, and it raises a number of ethical, legal, and social challenges that need to be considered.
The vast majority of scientists and lawmakers view human reproductive cloning"cloning for the purpose of making a human baby"immoral. Supporters see it as a possible solution to infertility problems. Some even imagine making clones of geniuses, whose work could advance society. Far-fetched views describe farms filled with clones whose organs are harvested for transplantation"a truly horrific idea.
For now, risks and technical challenges"as well as laws that make it illegal"will probably keep human reproductive cloning from becoming a reality. Even though many species have been cloned successfully, theprocess is still technically difficult and inefficient. The success rate in cloning is quite low: most embryos fail to develop, and many pregnancies end in miscarriage.
Current efforts at human cloning are focused on creating embryonic stem cells for research and medicine, as described above. However, many feel that this type of therapeutic cloning comes dangerously close to human reproductive cloning. And once techniques become more streamlined and efficient, they fear that some may be tempted totake that next step.
From a technical and moral standpoint, before human cloning becomes routine, we need to have a good idea of the risks involved.
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