Human Cloning

Imagine it is the year 2008. As you pick up your
daily issue of the New York Times, you begin to
read some of the interesting articles on the front
page. The top story of the paper reads, "Germany
Wins All Gold Medals at the Olympic Games: Is
Cloning in Competitive Events Fair?" Other
interesting articles reported on the front page
include: "Rock Star Stacy Levesque and Lover’s
Nuclear Transplanted Child is Born" and "Former
President George Bush’s Cloned Heart Transplant
A Success." These articles are examples of how
much of an influence cloning can be in the future.
Although these articles would have seemed
science fiction several years ago, the idea of
cloning became a reality in 1997. On February 27,
1997, it was reported that scientist produced the
first clone of an adult sheep, attracting international
attention and raising questions of whether cloning
should take place. Within days, the public called
for ethics inquires and new laws to ban cloning.
The potential effects of cloning are unimaginable.
What would life be like with women who are able
to give birth to themselves, cloned humans who
are used for "spare parts", and genetically superior
cloned humans? Based on the positive advances
of cloning versus the negative effects, one must
ask his/herself whether cloning humans should be
banned entirely.

According to the American Heritage College
Dictionary, cloning is "to reproduce or propagate
asexually." This definition means that cloning
enables the creation of offspring without any
sexual action or sexual contact. There are several
methods for cloning: separating the embryo and
making twins with the same genetic make-up,
taking a cell from a fertilized ovum when the cell
begins to split and replace it in another female’s
ovum, or nuclear transplantation. In the 10 March
1998 issue of Time, J. Madeleine Nash explains
one example of how a clone of an adult ewe is
"born" from nuclear transplantation. First, a cell is
taken from the udder of an adult ewe and placed
in a culture with very low concentrations of
nutrients. As the cells starve, they stop dividing
and switch off their active genes, and go into
hibernation. An unfertilized egg is then taken from
another adult ewe and the egg’s nucleus, along
with its DNA, is sucked out, leaving an empty egg
cell that still has the cellular machinery to produce
an embryo. The empty egg and the culture of
starved cells are then placed next to each other.
Then an electronic pulse causes the egg and the
cells to fuse together and a second burst is given
to jump-start the cell division. Six days later, the
embryo is implanted in the uterus of another ewe.
The result of this process will be the birth of a
baby sheep, having identical genes as the first
sheep from which the cells were extracted from
the udder. Although scientist understand how
cloning is possible and what the cloning methods
are, exactly how the adult DNA changes once
inside the egg still remains a question. Whichever
method is used to create a clone, the outcome
remains the same – cloning is duplicating an exact
copy of another life form.

The term "cloning" was first introduced in 1903 by
Herbert John Webber as a new horticultural term
and was first applied to manmade populations of
cultivated plants. In the early 1980’s, scientists
developed a procedure called nuclear transfer that
enabled scientists to replace the DNA-containing
nucleus of an egg cell with a nucleus from another
cell. At Allegheny University of the Health
Sciences, scientists raised a crop of tadpoles from
the red blood cells of adult frogs; however, this
experiment failed when the tadpoles died halfway
through metamorphosis. Last year in the 27
February issue of Nature, Mr. Wilmut and his
colleagues at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh,
Scotland successfully created a clone of an adult
ewe and named her Dolly. Dolly was "born" by
taking genetic material from cells in the mammary
glands of a 6 year-old ewe and putting the
acquired cells into an unfertilized ovum. Out of
277 tries, researchers eventually produced only 29
embryos that survived longer than 6 days, of these
29, all died before birth except Dolly. Since Dolly
was born, scientists have made additional
advances in cloning, and now harbor the concept
of cloning humans.

Those who support cloning argue that cloning can
benefit the human race and society by contributing
to medical and psychological studies, allowing
infertile mothers to have biological children, and
cloning animals or humans to attain needed organs.
Many medical researchers can utilize cloned genes
to diagnosis many genetic diseases. By cloning
genes, scientists can create hundreds of identical
genes and diagnose mutations that result in the
disease. By being able to work with identical
genes, it would allow scientists to experiment with
trial and error and compare the results of