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Essays Human Cloning

The prospect of human cloning

Abstract

The paper explores a utilitarian perspective of human cloning and serious concerns about potential benefits and harms of human cloning. The science behind the cloning experiments is still not understood completely. Whether there would be any significant advantages in human cloning is not yet clear.

Introduction

The last couple of years has seen some amazing results related to human cloning. Many social, moral, and ethical arguments have surfaced regarding human cloning; that is looked upon as a form of reproduction. It would become easy to replace a loved one who died as a newborn. The prime difference between other reproductive technologies and cloning is that, cloning does not require the biological parent be fertile, and one can choose the genes one's child shall have.

Dolly

The first successfully cloned mammal, Dolly, the sheep, was a shocking symbol of science and biotechnology crossing the boundaries and getting out of control. Gradual improvement in cloning technology has enabled the researchers migrated to other animals like goat, pig, deer, mouse, cattle, etc. Till now, there have been no substantiated evidence for human cloning, although, South Korean researchers can generate stem cells from cloned human embryos. In spite of recent technological advancements made, animal cloning remains extremely inefficient. However, researchers feel that one day all the technical hurdles will get resolved.

Possible Benefits

There is important research going on in areas such as embryonic stem cells, organs and tissues. Human cloning would permit the study of genetic diseases generally. Any discouragement at this stage would impact the important research going non in areas like embryonic stem cells negatively. The research on stem cells and specific tissues types could regenerate nerve, muscle and cells that would alleviate serious diseases like heart disease, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and many other chronic illnesses. The potential benefits of therapeutic cell cloning. cannot be undermined. Human cloning would also enable some infertile people to have children.

Playing God

Every cloning experiment has never failed to evoke a negative reaction and opponents of reproductive cloning warn that human cloning. would mean “playing God”, it will also threaten the individuality of the cloned person and erode family relations. It will only lead to creating chaos in the natural ordering of generations. Therapeutic cloning involves intentional destruction of human embryos and the intentional destruction of human embryos for research purposes is already debated on. Moreover, human cloning is looked upon as unnatural and needless tampering with the human embryo.

It would be realistic to shoulder the aspect that any future experiments related to human cloning will face high failure rates. Any of those cloning abnormalities will involve failures in genomic reprogramming. The current routine prenatal diagnosis for any genetic abnormalities are still not capable of detecting the different epigenetic disturbances that may occur with cloning.

Since early 1997, national and international regulatory bodies have been looking at the controversial subject and the complex issues relating to it. No Federal funds in US are allocated for human cloning and any attempts to clone humans remain banned. Many State legislatures are far more anxious to outlaw human cloning.

As the national leaders, researchers, academicians continue to wrestle over the future of using this emerging technology, human cloning continues to dominate the political scene.

 

now been successfully cloned from adult or fetal cells, and attempts are being made (so far without success) to clone monkeys, dogs, horses, and other animals in the same way. The cloning of mammals involves a process called nuclear transplantation or somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). In biological terminology, clones are not replicas of each other, but contain identical genetic material.

The nuclear transplantation procedure is also used for a purpose distinctly different from cloning whole mammals. Like reproductive cloning, the process of nuclear transplantation to produce stem cells (also called “therapeutic cloning, nonreproductive cloning, or research cloning”) involves placing the DNA from one mammal into an enucleated egg (an egg from which the chromosomes have been removed). Thereafter, the egg is stimulated to divide. At the blastocyst stage of embryonic development (in humans, a 5-7 day old preimplantation embryo of about 150 cells), its inner cell mass is harvested and grown in culture for subsequent derivation of embryonic stem cells. These cells are then used for scientific and clinical investigations. Neither the cells nor the blastocyst are ever implanted in a uterus, as is required for reproductive cloning and the birth of an animal. Figures 1 and 2 in the Executive Summary illustrate the differences between the techniques of reproductive cloning and nuclear transplantation to produce stem cells.

This report, by a joint panel of the National Academies Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP) and the National Academies Board on Life Sciences (BLS), focuses on issues raised by the possible application of nuclear transplantation technology to the reproductive cloning of humans.

NATIONAL BIOETHICS ADVISORY COMMISSION

In 1997, after a report announced the cloning experiments that produced Dolly the sheep [1], President Clinton asked that the National Bioethics Advisory Commission (NBAC), chaired by Harold Shapiro, look at the issue of human cloning. The NBAC’s report, Cloning Human Beings [2], came to various conclusions, including the following (emphasis added):

The Commission concludes that at this time it is morally unacceptable for anyone in the public or private sector, whether in a research or clinical setting, to attempt to create a child using somatic cell nuclear transfer cloning. The Commission reached a consensus on this point because current scientific information indicates that this technique is not safe to use in humans at this point. Indeed, the Commission believes it would violate important ethical obligations were clinicians or researchers to attempt to create a child using these particular technologies, which are

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