Cloning: Advantages, Disadvantages, and Implications

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Cloning: Advantages, Disadvantages, and Implications

aAt least 46 countries have banned any form of cloning, and 32 have banned reproductive cloning / Photo by Getty Images

 

The process of cloning is one that creates a brand-new life by using a living host and copying their cell data. This data is implanted into an embryo and undergoes normal development. Once fully grown, the clone will be a physical replica of the cloned creature.

When the technology was first developed, a new horizon of possibilities was opened up for several fields of science. There are, however, a number of factors that make this technology advantageous and disadvantageous.

 

Cloning and its Beginnings

The first mammal to be cloned was a sheep by the name of Dolly. In 1997, she was born from an adult cell. Back then, President Bush’s council and bioethics, as well as the National Academies, published separate reports that deemed the process dangerous and unsafe for future research or therapy. The media was enthralled with the story and followed every major update, and popular culture began to jump on the ideas with movies and other concepts. Many people believed, in fact, that cloning would soon become so commonplace that human clones would not be a far-off idea.

Pros of Cloning

As stated by Vittana.org, cloning can be used to repair or grow new cells. In the case of those who require organ transplants, this would be a lifesaver, and the technology could also help treat mortal illnesses and even stop genetic disorders. By taking the cell data of the actual person who needs the organ, there will be less chance of organ rejection. Stem cells could also be grown, which could help those with degenerative conditions or those with cancer.

Those who could not previously give birth or those who are part of a same-gender relationship could potentially have their own children.

Along with the above, it would be possible to bring back extinct species from thousands of years ago using cloning technology. Sciencing.com also reports that cloning could be used to mass-produce livestock and crops in order to meet the demand for food.

 

Limitations to Cloning

Back when Dolly was first born, she was the only one out of 100 cloned embryos that actually made it healthy because the cloning method was so inefficient at the time. Even if one does make it alive, the clone can often have several birth defects. Over the years, scientists have managed to improve their methods and institutions can even clone celebrities’ pets for a large sum of money.

While this sounds like we’re well on track to start human cloning, it’s simply not safe for the ensuing embryo. According to Futurism.com, it took 417 eggs, 63 surrogate mothers, and 6 pregnancies to produce the first two long-tailed macaque clones. There would be a great number of failed embryos and pregnancies down the line just to arrive at the first successful one, and many ethical committees are unwilling to see this happen. In fact, at least 46 countries have banned any form of cloning, and 32 have banned reproductive cloning, the goal of which is to create fully grown humans, but have allowed cloning of cells for growing new organs.

 

Social and Financial Obstacles

While it is possible to further clone research to a point that human clones may be created more successfully, a team would need a massive amount of funding and support to do so. Any person who would want to conduct this research would need to present it to a board that would fund them, and as most countries will ban such activities anyway, there isn’t much leeway to see how far cloning could go.

Aside from that, scientists will need to worry about their own reputations. They know that performing advanced cloning, especially with the goal of creating human clones, would have them shunned by other members of the scientific and political community. As it stands, cloning experiments, especially human experiments, would be committing social suicide.

When the technology was first developed, a new horizon of possibilities was opened up for several fields of science / Photo by Getty Images

 

The Ethical Dilemma

The moral and ethical dilemma of cloning is also an important thing to consider. If genetic cloning were to become the norm, would rich persons be able to choose the biological makeup of their children? It is also possible that those who were cloned could be treated like experiments or cattle, especially if they were only created from which to harvest organs or for manual labor. It begs the question of giving the same natural rights to clones that were created from an already existing person. The clone themselves would also be faced with an incredible existential crisis after knowing that they were artificially created and that they are only a copy of another person.

While there is still heavy debate today about the issues surrounding cloning, the main consensus is that human cloning is not something to take lightly. As the years go by, many rules on cloning may be changed and we may begin to consume only cloned animals and plants. However, the moral implications of cloning should never be forgotten.

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