Cloning Humans (1297 words) Essay

Cloning Humans
“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his
nostrilsthe breath of life; and man became a livingsoul . . . and He took one of
his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the Lord
God had taken from man, made He a woman and brought her unto man.” -Genesis
2:7 21-22 Human cloning is becoming one of the most controversial topics of our
time. With recent technological breakthroughs, whole new fields are opening with
amazing possibilities. Despite the great advantages that cloning can offer
humanity, there are just as many negative aspects of the technology, which have
given way to large anti-cloning groups who are gaining ground as to the future
of this awesome power. In truth, cloning could very well be the best, or worst
thing ever to happen to mankind. The possibilities of human cloning are vast
indeed, but research in the area has been dramatically restricted in the United
States and in some other countries. Pro-life groups that oppose free access to
abortion have considerable political power, and were able to have all human
embryo research banned by the Reagan and Bush administrations in most of the
1980’s and the 1990’s (religoustolerance). Although the ban was lifted
during the first days of Bill Clinton’s presidency, in 1997 he sent a bill to
congress marked “immediate consideration and prompt enactment” stating that
it would be illegal to create a human clone whether in private or public
laboratories. Along with the US ban, nineteen European countries including
Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg,
Moldova, Sweden, Macedonia, and Turkey, signed a protocol that would commit
their countries to ban by law any intervention seeking to create human beings
genetically identical to another human being, whether living or dead. It rules
out any exception to the ban, even in the case of a completely sterile couple.

Britain and Germany however, did not sign this agreement. Germany claims that
the protocol would be weaker than the anti-research laws they already have,
while Britain strongly supports their decision to enforce freedom. French
president Jaques Chirac stated that “Nothing will be resolved by banning
certain practices in one country if scientists and doctors can simply work them
elsewhere.” Despite all these obstacles, Dr. Richard Seed, a strong supporter
of human cloning, caused uproar when he announced his plans to set up a clinic
to clone human babies for infertile couples (CNN). We may not know the
individual or team who first performed cloning of human embryos, but the methods
used have been understood for many years and actually used to clone embryos of
cattle and sheep. It is likely this has already been successfully used on human
embryos in secret. Robert J. Stillman and his team at the George Washington
Medical Center in Washington D.C. took 17 flawed human embryos, which had been
derived from an ovum that had been fertilized by two sets of sperm resulting in
an extra set of chromosomes, and dooming the ovum’s future. The cells would have
eventually died no matter how they were treated. Stillman’s experiment showed
that the best results could be obtained by interrupting the zygote at the
two-cell stage, separating the cells, and placing them in separate dishes as to
allow them to begin growing again. Many of these pairs were able to develop to
the 32-cell stage, but no further. They might have had the potential to develop
further and even mature into a viable fetus, except the original ovum was
defective and would have died anyway. For ethical reasons, the researchers
selected embryos that had no possibility of ever maturing. The main motive of
the experiment seems to have been to trigger public debate on the ethics of
human cloning (religioustolerance). Dr. Steven Muller headed a panel in the US
whose mandate was to produce preliminary cloning guidelines. These would be used
by the federal National Institute of Health to decide which cloning research to
fund. The panel recommended that studies be limited to the use of embryos that
developed during in vitro fertilization procedures that had been performed to
assist couples in conceiving. Often, extra zygotes are produced that are either
discarded or frozen for possible future use. They further recommended that any
studies be terminated within fourteen days of conception. At that gestational
age, neural cord closure begins; this is the start the development of nervous
system. The scientific community had deemed the actual act of cloning a mammal
impossible, until Dr. Ian Wilmut of the Roslin Institute in Roslin, Scotland
achieved it in July of 1996. The success of his experiment was communicated to
the press on February 23rd 1997. “Dolly”, a seven month-old sheep, was
displayed to the media; she was the first large cloned animal using DNA from
another adult. Since Dolly’s conception, the Institute has successfully cloned
seven sheep of three breeds. The technique that they developed can probably be
applied to other domesticated mammals. On December 14 1998, researchers at the
infertility clinic at Kyeonghee University in Korea announced that they had
successfully cloned a human. Scientists Kim Seung-bo and Lee Bo-yeon took an
ovum from a woman, removed its DNA and inserted a somatic cell from the same 30
year old woman into the ovum. Their reports stated: ” We were able to
confirm division up to the fourth cell stage, the stage of embryo development
when a test tube embryo is usually placed back in the uterus, where it then
further develops into a fetus.” The goal of their research was not to clone
a human, but to clone specific, genetically identical organs for human
transplant. They did not implant the clone into a human uterus because of
ethical considerations. They destroyed it. The Korean Federation for the
Environmental Movement immediately issued a statement criticizing the study.

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Members of the Life Safety Ethics Association held protest demonstrations in
front of the University (religioustolerance). Despite popular belief, cloning
has been used since the early 1950’s by farmers to ensure good crops using a
technique in which the nucleus of an egg cell is destroyed, and replace it with
a nucleus from the cell of a higher organism. The egg will then grow into a
genetic copy of the donor organism. While this process can ensure crops
identical to a previous harvest, It will not work on mammals, because of the
tiny size of the eggs (Clone). Possibilities for cloning include such things as
creating children for infertile couples, harvesting genetic copies of organs to
avoid rejection by the immune system in transplants, or even going as far as to
create replacement children for parents who have lost someone in some sort of
accident. Cloning may even hold the key to a cure cancer. The materials to
create a laboratory can easily be purchased in most major countries at a fairly
cheap price. A working cloning facility could be built in a garage with as
little as $10000. In reality there is no way to prevent the cloning of a human
being. It would be better for someone, who is responsible enough to use the
technology intelligently, than for someone to use the secret of cloning to there
own advantage (Kaku). All in all, human cloning could possibly be the most
significant event in human history. Should we take one road to a
totalitarianistic society of genetically engineered clones like Aldous
Huxley’s Brave New World, or a world in which parents can create designer
children with the characteristics of their choice as in the movie “Gattaca”?
The incredible power held within our genes could possibly lead to a perfect
society where peace and happiness reign supreme, or it could very well lead to
the destruction of the human race itself.

Bibliography accessed 4-7-99. “19 Europeans Nations Sign Ban on
Human Cloning”. Posted January 12, 1998 accessed 4-7-99.

“Clinton Act Draws Line At Human Cloning”. Posted October 23, 1997 Hartl,
Daniel L. “Clone”. World Book Encyclopedia. 1996. page 685

accessed 9-1-99. “Human Cloning Foundation”. Kaku, Michiu. “Visions”.

Anchor Books DoubleDay. New York, London, Toronto, Sydney, Auckland. 1997. accessed 9-13-99. “Cloning”.


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