The Concept of Cloning:
The Paradoxical Nature of One of Science’s Greatest Breakthroughs
Ever Wish there was more than one of you? For many, our everyday lives and their respective responsibilities have us answering that question with a resounding YES! A clone, or identical replica created by the harvesting of one’s cells, has been a popular, albeit hypothetical, solution for domestics and laborers for centuries.
Conceptually, the first “clones” were plants. Essentially, this agrarian practice actually required very little scientific knowledge, if anyl. A planter would merely cut a branch from a healthy plant, submerge it in moist soil and EUREKA! While essentially the same concept, the steps towards cloning more complex cells would be much more involved.
In 1997, “Scientists in Scotland…announced the birth of the world’s first successfully cloned mammal, Dolly the Sheep” (BBC News, 1997). It seemed as if the whole world was instantly captivated with “Dolly”. What would come of this, they wondered. What would this mean for science, agriculture, even life as they knew it?
It became clear immediately that there were two distinct camps of opinion about cloning. These mental sets would take center stage in the debate over cloning and its place in the world. The scientific community largely maintained that the practice of cloning has innumerable benefits. “One biomedical application of the cloning technique is genetically modifying animals so that their cells and organs can be transplanted into humans” (Scientific American, 1999). It may sound strange (especially if you’ve seen “The Animal”, a 2001 comedy in which an accident victim’s only hope is to accept animal organs. His behaviors are forever hilariously altered), but the scientific basis for such findings is quite real and founded on solid ground. On a slightly less scientific note, it is hard to deny the principle of “two is better than one”; more resources for agriculture, medicine and energy is undeniably a good thing.
On the other side of the fence is the bioethical argument that cloning is wrong and could be used for malice. “Some insist that such technology could be abused to create clones of unsuspecting individuals” (Mader & Windelspecht, 2012, 76). Other concerns have risen out of the argument for creationism, which essentially states that it is immoral to cultivate life, because that right is reserved for God alone.
As compelling as others’ arguments tend to be, my tendencies concerning cloning are generally unique. The pros and cons of each aspect of cloning need to be addressed individually for communities, legislators and scientists to arrive at conclusions that make the most sense. In my opinion, this is, for the most part, what is wrong with the world in general. There are significantly more actions taken than plans made. While I don’t think that cloning should be outlawed, I’m also of the opinion that it needs to be reined in, perfected and ultimately made more useful to the global community it would serve.
BBC News. (1997, February 22). BBC On This Day|22|1997: Dolly the Sheep is Cloned. Retrieved October 27, 2011, from BBC News: http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/february/22/newsid_4245000/4245877.stm
Mader, S. S., & Windelspecht, M. (2012). Essentials of Biology. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Scientific American. (1999, October 21). What are the Potential Medical Benefits of Animal Cloning? Retrieved October 27, 2011, from Scientific American: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=what-are-the-potential-me