Human Cloning: Genetic Advancement or Genetic Manipulation? Some people might argue that the real offense would be to hinder the progress of science and experimental investigation with regard to human cloning. That to do so would mean to deny the right to scientifically explore and gain from such. Exploration and discovery in advanced technologies and science quite often proves to be beneficial to mankind; however, even though human cloning capabilities may tempt man's inherently diabolical God-playing nature, research, advancement and the expected benefits of human cloning are likely to dispel predicted human catastrophes. In the alternative, can advances in human cloning lead us into genetic manipulation and world chaos because of popular myths about cloning and the rapid progress in biotechnology? First, what exactly is cloning? In biology, cloning is used in two contexts: cloning a gene, or cloning an organism. Cloning is the reproduction of a human or animal whose genetic substance is identical to an existing being, such as an embryo or fetus. This is reproductive.
Cloning a gene means to extract a gene from one organism and insert it into a second organism. Cloning an organism means to create a new organism with the same genetic information as an existing one. This is therapeutic. Since 1885, there have been a number of researchers, scientists, geneticists, reproductive technologists and embryologists, such as August Weismann, Hans Spe mann, Walter Sutton, Paul Berg, Steen Willadsen, et al. , who have contributed much to the research and development of our current concepts of cloning.
Particularly two of the more recent renowned contributors to cloning research and experimentation are Ian Wilmut, a Ph. D. in animal genetic engineering, and Richard Seed, who founded Fertility and Genetics in the 1980 s. In 1973, for his thesis at Darwin College, Ian Wilmut created the first calf ever produced from a frozen embryo. In 1974, Ian Wilmut joined a research institute known as the Roslin Institute of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.
Today, he is currently joint head of the Department of Gene Expression and Development, with research interests in early mammalian development, embryo manipulation, nuclear transfer and gene targeting in mice, cattle, sheep and pigs. The Roslin Institute, is known for being one of the world's primary research centers on farm and other animals. In 1996, Professor Wilmut, along with his assistant, Keith Campbell, made history by creating the first organism to be duplicated (cloned) from adult cells. Their creation infamously became known as Dolly, the first cloned adult sheep. Wilmut and Campbell created Dolly using a technique similar to the one that they used in producing the first sheep from differentiated embryo cells in 1995.
A cell was taken from the mammary tissue of a mature 6 year old sheep while its DNA was in a dormant state. It was fused with a sheep ovum which had had its nucleus removed. The 'fertilized' cell was then stimulated with an electric pulse. Out of 277 attempts at cell fusion, only 29 began to divide. These were all implanted in ewes. Thirteen became pregnant but only one lamb, Dolly, was born.
During a February, 1997 New York Times interview, Ian Wilmut says, "the primary purpose of the cloning is to advance the development of drug therapies to combat certain life-threatening human diseases." Wilmut also states, "Our technology permits a change of the organs in animals, so they are less threatening for the human immunology.' As a result of this successful experiment of Dr. Ian Wilmut, the prospect of human cloning becomes more likely; however, human cloning inevitably raises moral and ethical issues. Are we attempting to play God? Dr. Lee Silver, a biologist at Princeton University, told the New York Times, in referring to the success of Wilmut's 1996 cloning experiment said, "basically, there are no limits." 'It means all of science fiction is true.' Dr. Ronald Munson, a medical ethicist at the University of Missouri, said, 'This technology is not, in principle, police able.' Worried that his research may be misused in the future, Dr.
Ian Wilmut tells New York Times, 'We can't see a clinical reason to copy a human being,' 'In this country it is illegal already. Furthermore, we are briefing authorities to make sure this technique is not misused.' On February 24, 1997, President Clinton had requested that (NBAC) National Bioethics Advisory Commission thoroughly review the legal and ethical issues associated with the use of cloning technology and report back within 90 days with recommendations. Additionally, on March 4, 1997, President Clinton issued a memorandum entitled 'Prohibition on Federal Funding for Cloning of Human Beings'. In the memorandum, he mentioned his assignment to NBAC -- noting that cloning technology offers the potential for 'enormous scientific breakthroughs that could offer benefits in such areas as medicine and agriculture' while raising 'profound ethical issues, particularly with respect to its possible use to clone humans." Furthermore, Clinton banned federal spending on human cloning.
He also urged a halt in private research until the ethical impact is better understood. Others were afraid that a permanent ban could thwart vital research on how genes are turned on and off inside human cells, a key factor in finding a cure for cancer or some birth defects or unlock the secrets to diseases. NBAC proposed that legislation to ban human cloning would be unconstitutional -- it would violate a right to procreate. Professor George Annas, of the Boston University School of Public Health, suggested that 'cloning is replication, not reproduction, Annas argued that there is a constitutional right to reproduce, but it does not necessarily follow that there is a right to replicate. Professor Annas indicated that 'human reproduction or replication is not like reproducing farm animals or even pets.
It is his belief that 'there are not any good reasons to clone humans." George Annas says that cloning a human 'would be like moral terrorism. Clinton and NBAC view that humans are different from animals, and therefore, human cloning should be avoided, however, cloning animals would be permissible and acceptable. Clinton, noted the difference cloning could make in agriculture, medical treatments or 'helping to unlock the greatest secrets of the genetic code.' But he did not want scientific progress to move so fast that new developments are not handled responsibly and that without ethical implications people will try to play God. Richard Seed, a Harvard graduate, physicist and scientist, seeks to make his mark on human evolution and cloning. He intends on raising money for and to clone humans, despite government and policies, even move to Mexico if necessary. "It's the intellectual fallout from cloning," says Richard Seed.
According to his vision, human cloning is not just about making spare copies of yourself, it's about providing rapid cures for a number of diseases, including cancer. People who favor the cloning of humans argue that the knowledge of nuclear physics lead to the creation of the atomic and hydrogen bombs and at the same time the application of radiation and radionuclide's in industry, medicine, agriculture, animal husbandry brought enormous benefits to mankind. The benefits to mankind of cloning and genetic engineering are immeasurable- the creation of farm animals engineered to produce a specific drugs. Another example is the production of 'humanized organs'. Scientists envision the cloning of animals whose organs are coated with human proteins so they can be used for transplants into patients, without rejection by the immune system. It is suggested that using cells from organs, i.
e. , heart, arteries, liver can be grown. The U. S. has spent billions on cancer research. But mortality rates from cancer have remained, overall, virtually unchanged.
The ultimate achievement for applied biology, of course, would be immortality. According to eminent evolutionary biologists immortality may be impossible to achieve. Science has extended and enriched our lives in many ways, intellectually and materially. It has given us vaccines, life saving drugs, supersonic jets, and laptop computers. But we still cannot comprehend ourselves. We still get cancer and become depressed.
We still grow old and die. Far from becoming God-like, we are as mortal as ever. The 1970 s diabolical film 'The Boys From Brazil" gave us something to consider in human cloning. This particular movie focused on the possibility of Hitler being recreated If genetics were to be misused in such a way, then perhaps we are not ready to pursue cloning with such fervor. The public is very concerned about these prospects. The Vatican condemned cloning because it violates 'the dignity both of human procreation and of the conjugal union.' In the United States the national commission on Bioethics is studying the legal and ethical implications of human cloning.
Most of the nations in Europe already prohibit human cloning. However, they are examining the moral implications of cloning other species. Cloning violates the enigma of what it means to be human. The Judeo-Christian theologians are worried that cloning infringes on God as the originator of life. Some theologians argue that cloning is not the same as creating life from DNA. The components used contain the ingredients of life; it is still only God who creates life.
Many people want to know if a cloned human being would be identical to its original. People who are familiar with identical twins know that identical genes (carry hereditary material) do not produce identical people. Twins are more akin than clones would be, because they share the same uterine environment, and they are raised in the same family. However, the present evidence suggests the clones will have very dissimilar personalities. John Rennie, of the Scientific American says, it would be... .' wrong to expect human clones to match up in the infinite variety of personal characteristics.
Second, cloning is not yet a technology ready for use on human cells. Rushing to human experiments could be tragic. Finally, even when cloning of humans is safe, it is not necessarily going to be popular. Cloning won't replace the old style of reproduction: it's not as much fun, and it's a lot more expensive." The possibilities of what could happen if too much power finds its way into the hands of immoral human beings who are capable and subject to committing human atrocities, such as recent events in Iraq.
Even though human cloning capabilities may tempt man's inherently diabolical God-playing nature, rapid progress in biotechnology and research in human cloning continues and has quite often proved that advancement could be beneficial, rather than genetic catastrophe.