In his 1930’s futuristic novel, Brave New World, Aldous Huxley predicted a society where the human race was created in a laboratory and carried to term in incubators. At the time it was regarded as being ludicrously impossible. The idea of cloning in the eighties required multiple reproductions of specialized cells. Even then, the possibility of cloning was unachievable. Recently, scientists cloned a lamb, simply by replicating the cell in the skin tissue. It is now happening in all parts of the world: Scotland, England, America, and Australia. As technology increases, doubts and “what-ifs” turn into realities. Three essays were examined concerning cloning endangered and extinct animals and the benefits and detriments of therapeutic cloning.
Matt Ridley, from the article “The Lure of Detinction”, claims there is “finally a noble use for cloning. To date,” he states, “it has only been promised to serve the human race’s vanity, by producing doppelgangers, and hypochondria, by providing spare livers. But with the announcement that cloning has been applied to vanished species, to reverse their extinction, it suddenly seems a rather higher calling” (1-4). A Massachusetts’s company has taken the first steps by cloning a rare Indian wild ox embryo called a guar and implanting it into a cow. Once successful, the company plans to do the same for a recently extinct Spanish goat called a bucardo. The possibilities are limited for the time being however, as long-extinct creatures can not be included in the “wish list” due to inadequate knowledge of their molecular biology. Even reptile, bird, and amphibian cloning are quite a ways off because they lay eggs. However, by allowing research to continue, time will produce stunning results.
In addition to reviving extinct animals, Great Britain is currently requesting permission to pursue what is called therapeutic cloning. According to Mike Pezzella, Prime Minister Tony Blair said he would introduce legislation to change the ban on human cloning passed in the 1990 Health Act to allow creation of human embryos for scientific research (3-4). Therapeutic cloning involves replacing the nucleus from a donated egg with that of the patient. Since an embryo younger than 14 days is essentially a ball of cells, scientists believe they can tweak the ball to develop into the kind of specialized tissue or organ needed for the patient. This act, if approved, would still strictly prohibit the mixing of human adult cells with the live eggs of any animal species. Transferring a cloned embryo to the womb of a human mother would also remain a criminal offense.
In contrast, the article “Human cloning is wrong” provides an opposing viewpoint over therapeutic cloning. It states: “This government, however, sees no problems with human cloning, other than anxiety at a possible public outcry” (“Human cloning is wrong”, 2-3). Additionally, not all “experts” are in favor of this field. The Donaldson committee was set up initially because the government’s consultative procedure had been discredited by the influence of the pharmaceutical industry, which stands to make huge profits from “therapeutic” cloning. The article continues to state that why lift the ban when it would encourage other means of going about the same technology, such as Adult stem cell research. The author concludes by stating that the word “therapeutic” is misleading; it is not therapeutic for the embryo, it is cannibalistic.
After digesting the material, I have come to the conclusion that cloning, both therapeutic and reproductive, is essential and inevitable, aside from human reproductive cloning. Matt Ridley’s article proves the technology is obviously available. We are able to clone rare goats in the uterus of a cow, and nearly all domesticated animals have been cloned. The facts are also numerous: the first cow was cloned successfully years ago, and is doing very well to date. Fears of “shorter cloned life expectancy” are do not hold water. In one case, the cells of six cloned calves lived twice as long as sexually reproduced calves. It is also possible to bring back some of the species mankind destroyed without damaging any existing animals welfare. To this, some argue that the more money we put into reproductive cloning, the faster funds for protecting those species that are endangered will dwindle. If this is the case, there was never enough money present in the funding to begin with. As far as therapeutic cloning, Dr. Liam Donaldson, Britain’s Chief Medical Officer, personally handed in the recommendation over lifting the ban for therapeutic cloning research to the Prime Minister, as documented in “UK gives OK to human cloning for research,” by Pezzella. This action clearly shows the noted Doctor’s belief and support in the cause. The one essay aforementioned I disagree with is “Human cloning is wrong.” The arguments used I found to be one-sided and judgmental. For instance, this essay suggests dropping therapeutic cloning for adult stem cell cloning. Why drop a highly possible treatment before its potential can be realized? To do so would be anti-intellectual and unscientific. As Dr. David Turner has stated, “There is no use in trying to put the genie back in the bottle… Dolly has happened.”
The debate over cloning, as one can see, has many different fields of discussion. Many feel that cloning will only provide negative effects for the future. There could be nothing farther from the truth. As long as therapeutic and reproductive cloning are closely monitored and regulated, only benefits are possible. After studying the topic, I feel it is futile to ignore this technology or to attempt to argue against it. Whether sanctioned by the government or carried out in hidden laboratories, cloning should and will take place.