Dolly is the most “photogenic, enigmatic” (New Scientist: Latest) item in the news since her birth in February 1997 (New Scientist: Clone). Her life is compared to that of a rock star, her clothing is already in a museum, her sexual encounters create news, and lately she has to be shielded from the paparazzi. Who is this? None other than the first cloned “farm animal in the history of the world” (New Scientist: Latest).
What is cloning? As the Merriam-Webster dictionary states, cloning is the “asexually produced progeny of an individual; also : a group of replicas of all or part of … DNA).”
Today I will discuss the problem of how politicians, religious leaders, and how their misleading information hampers the advancement of medical technology, I will then establish the benefits of cloning, such as the cloning of organs and tissues, and the regrowing or replacing of spinal cords.
One of the main problems associated with hearing about cloning is that science fiction is immediately thought of, mad scientists who experiment with humans, creating ghastly mutants or armies of super-beings.
A problem that occurs with misinformation comes from when important people make decisions or comments about a topic and this opinion becomes the people’s point of view. For instance, President Clinton said on June 9, 1997, that he had instituted a commission to evaluate cloning. This commission talked to scientists, religious leaders, philosophers, families, and others. They concluded that cloning was unacceptable and could lead to forms of prejudice (White House: Remarks). In my research I also visited Vatican online, and this is what it said about cloning, “Human cloning must also be judged negative with regard to the dignity of the person cloned.” And the same article said that cloning experimentation was immoral and made the human body a tool of research and a value (Libreria Editrice Vaticana: Reflections).
Speaking of treating humans as a value, a website has placed fictitious costs on how much people would be worth to clone, “Cindy Crawford $79,999, Pierce Brosnan $64,999, JFK $499, Michael Jackson $299” (DreamTech). Even though these prices are fiction, would the science community accept such cloning? Certainly not. Quotes such as those I have just mentioned, from the president and religious leaders, create a negative view throughout our society. Instead of politicians worrying about nonessential topics about cloning, our government should help funding experimentations in cloning. Because only by research can medical technology be advanced.
Cloning experimentation may be in its youth, but all new technology has its flaws. These are the real dangers that must be focused on, its flaws, not philosophies, speculation, and fiction. “Dr Harry Griffin, at the Roslin Institute, Edinburgh, where Dolly was created, told BBC News, ‘No-one should be contemplating the cloning of a human being using technology which is at a very early stage of development and the mechanisms of which we understand very little.’” Did Dr. Griffin say we should never clone, no, he said because “we understand very little” about cloning. His reasons for not experimenting with humans is that the science used is too primitive, for this same scientist explains that cloning of a clone can cause major problems. These scientists took a cell from a cloned cow to create another clone, after a few weeks this cloned clone died (New Scientist: Cloning).
So even though cloning may have its problems, many benefits have already come to fruition. One of the many benefits of cloning is genetics. Genetic discoveries give many solutions to people’s health now through gene therapy.
In several polls taken, over 20% of parents say that they would genetically alter their children’s genetic code for reasons concerning health. As more people are educated about genetics this number will certainly rise dramatically. In another poll with scientists, they agree that genetically “engineered humans are likely to become a reality” (New Scientists: Superhumans). And “Gregory Stock, a biophysicist … at the University of California, Los Angeles,” says, “There is no way to avoid this technology” (New Scientists: Superhumans). So if genetic engineering is unavoidable and this is a benefit of cloning research, why is the government trying to create unnecessary laws that restrict scientists instead of rewarding them?
Along the same lines cloning research is the solution to repair defective genes. These defects can be altered to prevent sickness or disease. Livers can be cloned, as well as kidneys. Bone marrow for leukemia could be cloned. Turning off certain DNA patterns could prevent cancer. Spinal cords may be able to be regrown or replaced. All of these benefits come from experimentation, so before people make comments or legislation preventing experimentation, help people to become educated and help them to learn about cloning and its many benefits. Much information about cloning research can be found on the website “Human Cloning Foundation’s home page” which advocates proper experimentation of human DNA (Human Foundation: Benefits).
Are there any other benefits to cloning research? Yes, doctors could have, at their convenience, the cloning of organs and tissues that are grown from the cells of individuals themselves, not simply transplants from the deceased, or people on the verge of dying. There are many persons on organ transplant waiting lists, and these lists can be dramatically shortened by cloning.
Already, today, cloning, or the growing of skin is possible, and soon “the production of nerve [and/]or heart muscle cells” will help doctors save unnecessary deaths (New Scientists: Organs).
Now imagine a couple becomes infertile after their first child and then it dies, cloning of the parents DNA could solve the problem and they would have a chance at another child, or using cryogenically frozen cells they could have another child.
A woman is in an accident and cannot have children, and never had a child, cloning could be her answer. A young man graduates from high school and becomes paralyzed shortly after, “At age 19 he has his first urinary tract infection because of an indwelling urinary catheter and continues to suffer from them the rest of his life. At age 20 he comes down with herpes zoster of the trigeminal nerve. He suffers chronic unbearable pain.” Cloning of the necessary nerves may be his answer (Human Foundation: Benefits).
Cloning experimentation and genetic alteration must be allowed. How many people must suffer? How many more people must die? How many unhappy couples must there be? How much pain and suffering needs to occur, before the freedom of proper experimentation is allowed to happen. The more laws initiated will mean it will take longer to help others. Become educated, become aware, learn about the benefits of cloning research. Help our society to benefit from cloning now. If we have the resources, the knowledge and the ability, let us press on and enhance our knowledge of cloning, because these techniques will be the answer to our children’s future health.
Today, I have explained why banning the experimentation of cloning is unfounded. I have also stated true reasons as to why cloning must be done with caution. But because the benefits of cloning outweigh problems, cloning research must go forward. By visualizing the sufferings and problems others may have, I hope you have a new understanding as to why our society needs cloning and genetic experimentation.
“The benefits of human cloning.” Human Cloning Foundation’s home page, 1999. http://www.humancloning.org/
“Clone.” Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, 1999.
“Clone Alone–is Dolly an imposter?” New Scientist, 1999.
“Cloning may damage long-term health.” BBC News, 1999. http://news1.thdo.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_331000/331793.stm
“Designer Cloning Gene Licensing Fee.” DreamTech International, 1999.
“The latest news & opinion on cloning & related issues.” New Scientist, 1999.
“Organs without donors.” New Scientist. Philip Cohen,1999.
“Radio Address by the President to the Nation.” The White House Archives. President Clinton, January 10, 1998. http://www.pub.whitehouse.gov/uri-res/I2R?urn:pdi://oma.eop.gov.us/1998/1/12/6.text.2
“Reflections on Cloning.” Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Pontificia Academia Pro Vita. 1997. http://www.vatican.va/a_curia_romana/academias_pont/acdlife/documents/po_rc_pa_acdlife_doc_30091997_clon_en.html
“Remarks by the President at Announcement of Cloning Legislation.” The White House Archives. President Clinton, June 9, 1997. http://www.pub.whitehouse.gov/uri-res/I2R?urn:pdi://oma.eop.gov.us/1997/6/10/5.text.1
“Superhumans.” New Scientist, 1999.
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