Starting in 1997, when the very first mammal ever cloned-a sheep named Dolly-there have been many debates over cloning and genetic mapping. The act of cloning and genetic mapping that occurs both in humans and in animals is morally wrong as both researchers and non-researchers tend to take advantage of these very touchy situations. There are many risks involved in reproductive cloning such as; failure resulting in death or mutations, people “playing god” by adjusting the way there babies look or animals look/act, and even if an animal is born healthy, there are many health factors that the animal will have to deal with until they die.
Now, there are, on the other hand, many benefits to cloning and genetic mapping. One, for example, is helping keep endangered species from going extinct by cloning the offspring or adults. Another example is more advanced research on diseases and health of both humans and animals by providing a possible cure in the genome.
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Also, cloning can and often is used to clone a failed organ such as a liver or a lung instead of donating that same organ. Until further research is established and less animals and humans lives are lost, though, cloning and genetic mapping will be unethical and inhumane.
Studies show that over 90% of all reproductive cloning will fail or the animals or humans born, will have mutations, health risks, be still born and will live only half the life of the normal animal. For example, Dolly the sheep took over 217 failed trial and errors to finally get right, with over 60 of the animals born with mutations, and all the others not surviving to term in the surrogate mother. Cloning, by definition of the Oxford Dictionary, is “a plant or an animal that produced naturally or artificially from the cells of another plant or animal and so the same as it”.
Originally, cloning of humans was not meant to be used to create the ideal child or to even clone an entire human. The purpose was to create stem cells used for research. Many believe that it is inevitable that reproductive cloning can and will be abused. There are three types of cloning: therapeutic, reproductive (DNA), and recombinant. Therapeutic cloning refers to utilizing human stem cells to replicate human organs. Recombinant cloning is used to further understand stem cells and the genome, similar to genetic mapping, it can be used to genetically alter the genome to what humans deem “favorable”.
Reproductive cloning is the act, or attempt, of replicating a strand of DNA to create a living life form. Almost all of the research involved in cloning focuses mainly on one target- to eventually clone humans. When we are told about this we are often forced to ask ourselves the question: why would we want to play God and what would he think? Although cloning on humans hasn`t been proven to actually have occurred, many believe it will be happening soon. The act of cloning humans also places a threat on the children born.
These children would be forced into having to have science tests and research done on them almost all the time, not giving them a “normal” life. Also the children would be bullied and teased by other children, should they come in contact with them. These children may also become depressed or emotionally challenged because they know their mother is really their sister and their father is really their step-brother. Cloning may present issues in genetic diversity.
For example, if cloning occurs in humans and all of the clones turn out with a similar genetic make-up that would mean that all of the cloned humans can be susceptible to the same diseases or illnesses. Imagine, one virus killing almost the entire human population because of lack of genetic diversity. The issue does not affect just humans, though. For example, a large population of farm animals such as pigs, cows, and sheep, was effected by a harmful virus, not only would they die off, but humans would not be able to clone animals fast enough and there would be a large food shortage.
Another issue posed with cloning and genetic mapping, is costs. It currently requires over $1, 000 dollars to get a genetic mapping done and over $100, 000 dollars to clone a small animal like a mouse. This poses an issue because the success rate is extremely low, and requires up to 5 years for a successful outcome. We could use that money for more important things such as defense or Medicare or even schools. The idea of cloning to create another living being should be out of the question; instead, we should worry about cloning organs and stem cells to keep people alive, not to kill them.
Another reason cloning is an issue is because of a possible overpopulation of animals. If this occurs, humans may feel the need to abuse animals by leaving them in cages or killing them before they are even born. Humans will treat animal’s lives as if they are a commodity. If cloning was more structured or better researched using safer practices, and less animal testing, more people would feel more comfortable with using cloning and it`s research. For example, if scientists conducting the tests for cloning used smaller animals more often, and used large animals less often, the costs for the testing would go down.
Also, people would feel more comfortable knowing that animal`s lives would not be lost due to the testing or the research. One fear is that if a baby is cloned, its chromosomes would match that of the donors. Meaning that a 5-year-old would look like a 10-year-old and a 10-year-old would look like a 20-year-old, with potential for heart disease and cancer to develop. Scientists fear that this could happen, as they do not really know if the life expectancy is much different.
Scientists have found that even in a younger mammal, their life expectancy will be shorter because they age too quickly. Dolly the sheep, for example, had developed Of all the things that cloning might be used for, it could be used to create a genetic underclass that could be used as slaves in the years to come, or on a more positive note it could be used to create humans with sub normal intelligence and above normal strength that could someday rule the world. Another issue is that scientists have a harder time cloning mammals than cloning any other species in the world.
Dr. Patrick Dixon claims that “Cloning experiments have already been carried out successfully in frogs as long ago as 1952… When it comes to mammals there has been a deliberate conspiracy of silence”. People are willing to pay up to $200,000 and are not being guaranteed a perfect clone. There have been cases where cloned mammals have been created disfigured, such as sheep born with no heads. When the news about Dolly first hit the press, according to Time Magazine, it had taken “277 attempts and 29 implantations to produce one healthy Dolly” (Heston, 65).
Cloning’s most negative effect is its potential to reduce genetic diversity. For example, supporters of cloning claim that cloning the best milk producer in a dairy herd will result in the production of the best animals and would eventually lead to an increase in the production of better quality milk. These arguments, however, do not hold because traditional breeding of animals produce better animals through mixing genes to produce a specimen superior to both, while cloning settles for copying of the best existing animals.
Cloning of these animals reduces their genetic diversity. Each will not be unique, but possess genes which are exactly like that of the animals cloned from. A common misconception, though, is that the cloned animals will be exactly like the animal it was cloned from. For example, some people would like to clone their dogs, thinking they would have the same personality, and will look exactly the same. This is not entirely true, as most clones only come out as a separate identical twin, only looking similar to the cell donor.
The clone would have to develop a personality and would have to be raised in a similar environment to that of the cell donor. Each and every human on this earth was born to be completely unique. With the event of cloning this could mean that a natural born human could share his or her identity with hundreds of organisms that resemble his or her own exact genetic structure. We should treat every human as an individual entity and not to set out to intentionally make a copy of someone.
There are many ways that cloning can be helpful, though. For example, cloning can give couples who cannot reproduce themselves, a chance to clone a child. This would only work, however, if cloning became more successful, because as of right now the success rate is only 2-3%. Some animals have gone extinct because they cannot survive in the world as it is today. In addition, animals may cause an ecological crisis, if they do not “blend” well with the rest of the natural world.
Issues such as who serves as the surrogate mother, the carrier of the embryo, are a key issue. For example, a wooly mammoth gene cannot be put into a surrogate mother such as a cow. Also, not all animals can be cloned. They may not contain the correct strand of DNA to be used in the cloning process. This means that there could be foster genes implanted in the DNA to recreate the animal, making it unnatural and a potential danger in its own reproduction stage.