In today’s society we have made great strides towards living longer, healthier, and more productive lives. With current medical technology, we have stopped small pox, eradicated polio, restored vision to the blind, and transplanted a human heart. Now it seems that we have made these great efforts towards a better life, we have to stop and ask ourselves where we are now going with human genetic engineering. Is genetic engineering moving faster than society is evolving? Are we as a human race prepared for all that is encompassed in the science of cloning? Or could our final goal be achieving immortality?
Centrally the issue of cloning has been a hot topic in the media mainly because it has become a technological as well as a medical breakthrough. The possibilities of cloning are innumerable that is, if it works. But the other side of the coin is the ethics of the process. What happens when we master cloning of body parts and venture out to clone humans? Will this clone be someone who has feelings, and mind and a spirit of its own? Will it have a soul? Genetic Engineering, the alteration of an organism’s genetic, or hereditary, material to eliminate undesirable characteristics or to produce desirable new ones.(Brennan, 57) . Genetic engineering is used to increase plant and animal food production; to diagnose disease, improve medical treatment, and produce vaccines and other useful drugs (Brennan, 58). Cattle and pigs were first domesticated about 8000 years ago and through selective breeding have become main sources of meat for humans. Dogs and horses have also been selectively bred for thousands of years for recreational purposes. Over the past 20 years, genetic engineering has been revolutionized by a new technique known as recombinant DNA, or gene splicing, with which scientists can directly alter genetic material (Encarta, 03). Genes consist of the chemical deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). In recombinant DNA, the DNA of one organism is joined to the DNA of a second organism to produce a recombinant DNA. When this recombinant DNA is spliced with another organism, it permanently changes the genetic makeup of that organism.
The definition of a clone, an organism, or group of organisms, derived from another organism by an asexual reproductive process (Church of Scotland, 02). Usually the members of a clone are identical in their inherited characteristics—that is, in their genes —except for any differences caused by mutation (Encarta, 06). Identical twins, for example, who originate from the division of a single fertilized egg, are members of a clone; whereas non-identical twins, derived from two separate fertilized eggs, are not clones.
One physicist points out the fact that if a clone had the exact genetic makeup as well as the same memories and brain waves, the clone as well as the original would be convinced that each of them were the original. How would the research subject feel about having a clone in the same world? According to the Director of the Church of Scotland, “On principle, to replicate any human technologically is against the basic dignity of the uniqueness of each human being in God’s sight. Christians would see this as a violation of the uniqueness of a human life, which God has given to each of us and to no one else. Even identical twins are unique as individuals” (Church of Scotland, 01). I agree with the quote, but I realize that all world religions find this a violation to their creator. Here is an argument against the cloning of humans presented by the director of this church. This argument is considered the direct opposite or the ‘other side of the coin’. Human dignity is a massive part of the human race and I think that is why the issue of cloning is going to be another one the unanswerable topics, like abortion. Much attention to medical issues until a breakthrough in technology could be a savior.
“A company’s claim that it is first to clone a human embryo has drawn opposition from White House, the Vatican and other abortion foes see it as a step toward cloning human beings.”(CS News) President Bush said Monday that the breakthrough was “Morally wrong, in my opinion.” And then he went on to say “We should not, as a society, grow life to destroy it.”(CS News 1) As the University of Texas was able to successfully clone headless mice, it would be just as easy to create headless humans. Upon birth, the headless mice were dead, thus their organs were usable for other mice. The same purpose would serve in the cloning of humans. Scientists could simply clone human beings that are perfect specimens for harvesting organs to use on other human beings. (Krauthammer 663)
I would like to take this opportunity to share my ideas and thoughts about the matter of genetic engineering and more specifically cloning. Genetic engineering has provided many new advances in medicine which may have helped save lives. I feel that we did have to take a few risks to find out what new helpful medicines we could gain. I have no objections to genetic engineering in general, until it comes to cloning. The actual thought of cloning humans scares me and I am sure to many others. Cloning body parts could be very beneficial to the world and we would enter a new era of medicine. But venturing out and cloning an actual human will attain a lot of unwanted reactions. It is a subject that I think will never truly be solved like abortion or euthanasia.
Leon Eisensberg adds,” Cloning of humans would not improve the human species and would probably have a negative impact.” (Eisenberg) A doctor in Italy has recently talked of cloning human babies. Severino Antinori also known as “Doctor Miracle” and is using ideas to combat infertility. He is using the issue of infertility to push his methods of cloning the fetus instead of using the common method of invetro-fertilization. With his methods there is not a new human created, but a replica or phony.
The creation of Dolly represents a unique advance for cloning technology, but it intensified the debate about subjecting humans to cloning. Rather than a prelude to human cloning, however, many scientists say the achievement of cloning is the forerunner of a revolution in animal breeding. Cloning animals, to me, is not that big of a deal. But cloning humans is a completely new ball game. The biggest question in my mind about a human clone is whether this clone would have a soul. Or would it be someone that looks, talks and acts like you or me, but would be missing that special something in his/her eye.
Brennan, Richard P., Levitating Trains and Kamikaze Genes. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 1994
Clarke, Bryan C., “Quanta: cloning and its ethics”. The Science’s. Volume 37, issue 3 (June 1997): Pg. 1211.
John Harris & Philip Bereano. “Is cloning an attack on human dignity?” Nature. Volume 387, issue 6635 (June 19, 1997):Pg. 754.
Henning, Allmers & Simon Kenwright. “Ethics of Cloning”. The Lancet. Volume 349, issue 9062 (May 10, 1997): Pg. 1401.
Church of Scotland. “Should we clone humans?” Main web page. Date ? Online article. Http://webzone.ccacyber.com/www/srtpoject/clonhuml.htm
Zou, Ben. “Should Cloning be banned?” Main web page. Date ? Online article. Http://home.att.net/~dequanandben/cloning.htm 7. Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia
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Krauthammer, Charles, “ Of Headless Mice”….and Men 663 The Macmillan Reader ; Longman Publishers, New York 2001
Eisenberg, Leon. “Would Cloned Humans really be like sheep?.” The New England Journal of Medicine 340.6 (11 Feb. 1999):471. Expanded Academic, Gale Group Info Trac. Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, TN. 11 Nov. 2001 Http://www.galegroup.com