Cloning Humans”And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into hisnostrilsthe breath of life; and man became a livingsoul .
. . and He took one ofhis ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the LordGod had taken from man, made He a woman and brought her unto man. ” -Genesis2:7 21-22 Human cloning is becoming one of the most controversial topics of ourtime.
With recent technological breakthroughs, whole new fields are opening withamazing possibilities. Despite the great advantages that cloning can offerhumanity, there are just as many negative aspects of the technology, which havegiven way to large anti-cloning groups who are gaining ground as to the futureof this awesome power. In truth, cloning could very well be the best, or worstthing ever to happen to mankind. The possibilities of human cloning are vastindeed, but research in the area has been dramatically restricted in the UnitedStates and in some other countries. Pro-life groups that oppose free access toabortion have considerable political power, and were able to have all humanembryo research banned by the Reagan and Bush administrations in most of the1980’s and the 1990’s (religoustolerance).Order now
Although the ban was liftedduring the first days of Bill Clinton’s presidency, in 1997 he sent a bill tocongress marked “immediate consideration and prompt enactment” stating thatit would be illegal to create a human clone whether in private or publiclaboratories. Along with the US ban, nineteen European countries includingDenmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg,Moldova, Sweden, Macedonia, and Turkey, signed a protocol that would committheir countries to ban by law any intervention seeking to create human beingsgenetically identical to another human being, whether living or dead. It rulesout 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 thatthe protocol would be weaker than the anti-research laws they already have,while Britain strongly supports their decision to enforce freedom. Frenchpresident Jaques Chirac stated that “Nothing will be resolved by banningcertain practices in one country if scientists and doctors can simply work themelsewhere.
” Despite all these obstacles, Dr. Richard Seed, a strong supporterof human cloning, caused uproar when he announced his plans to set up a clinicto clone human babies for infertile couples (CNN). We may not know theindividual or team who first performed cloning of human embryos, but the methodsused have been understood for many years and actually used to clone embryos ofcattle and sheep. It is likely this has already been successfully used on humanembryos in secret. Robert J. Stillman and his team at the George WashingtonMedical Center in Washington D.
C. took 17 flawed human embryos, which had beenderived from an ovum that had been fertilized by two sets of sperm resulting inan extra set of chromosomes, and dooming the ovum’s future. The cells would haveeventually died no matter how they were treated. Stillman’s experiment showedthat the best results could be obtained by interrupting the zygote at thetwo-cell stage, separating the cells, and placing them in separate dishes as toallow them to begin growing again. Many of these pairs were able to develop tothe 32-cell stage, but no further. They might have had the potential to developfurther and even mature into a viable fetus, except the original ovum wasdefective and would have died anyway.
For ethical reasons, the researchersselected embryos that had no possibility of ever maturing. The main motive ofthe experiment seems to have been to trigger public debate on the ethics ofhuman cloning (religioustolerance). Dr. Steven Muller headed a panel in the USwhose mandate was to produce preliminary cloning guidelines.
These would be usedby the federal National Institute of Health to decide which cloning research tofund. The panel recommended that studies be limited to the use of embryos thatdeveloped during in vitro fertilization procedures that had been performed toassist couples in conceiving. Often, extra zygotes are produced that are eitherdiscarded or frozen for possible future use. They further recommended that anystudies be terminated within fourteen days of conception.
At that gestationalage, neural cord closure begins; this is the start the development of nervoussystem. The scientific community had deemed the actual act of cloning a mammalimpossible, until Dr. Ian Wilmut of the Roslin Institute in Roslin, Scotlandachieved it in July of 1996. The success of his experiment was communicated tothe press on February 23rd 1997. “Dolly”, a seven month-old sheep, wasdisplayed to the media; she was the first large cloned animal using DNA fromanother adult.
Since Dolly’s conception, the Institute has successfully clonedseven sheep of three breeds. The technique that they developed can probably beapplied to other domesticated mammals. On December 14 1998, researchers at theinfertility clinic at Kyeonghee University in Korea announced that they hadsuccessfully cloned a human. Scientists Kim Seung-bo and Lee Bo-yeon took anovum from a woman, removed its DNA and inserted a somatic cell from the same 30year old woman into the ovum. Their reports stated: ” We were able toconfirm division up to the fourth cell stage, the stage of embryo developmentwhen a test tube embryo is usually placed back in the uterus, where it thenfurther develops into a fetus.
” The goal of their research was not to clonea human, but to clone specific, genetically identical organs for humantransplant. They did not implant the clone into a human uterus because ofethical considerations. They destroyed it. The Korean Federation for theEnvironmental Movement immediately issued a statement criticizing the study.
Members of the Life Safety Ethics Association held protest demonstrations infront of the University (religioustolerance). Despite popular belief, cloninghas been used since the early 1950’s by farmers to ensure good crops using atechnique in which the nucleus of an egg cell is destroyed, and replace it witha nucleus from the cell of a higher organism. The egg will then grow into agenetic copy of the donor organism. While this process can ensure cropsidentical to a previous harvest, It will not work on mammals, because of thetiny size of the eggs (Clone).
Possibilities for cloning include such things ascreating children for infertile couples, harvesting genetic copies of organs toavoid rejection by the immune system in transplants, or even going as far as tocreate replacement children for parents who have lost someone in some sort ofaccident. Cloning may even hold the key to a cure cancer. The materials tocreate a laboratory can easily be purchased in most major countries at a fairlycheap price. A working cloning facility could be built in a garage with aslittle as $10000.
In reality there is no way to prevent the cloning of a humanbeing. It would be better for someone, who is responsible enough to use thetechnology intelligently, than for someone to use the secret of cloning to thereown advantage (Kaku). All in all, human cloning could possibly be the mostsignificant event in human history. Should we take one road to atotalitarianistic society of genetically engineered clones like AldousHuxley’s Brave New World, or a world in which parents can create designerchildren with the characteristics of their choice as in the movie “Gattaca”?The incredible power held within our genes could possibly lead to a perfectsociety where peace and happiness reign supreme, or it could very well lead tothe destruction of the human race itself. Bibliographyhttp://www. cnn.
com. accessed 4-7-99. “19 Europeans Nations Sign Ban onHuman Cloning”. Posted January 12, 1998 http://www. cnn. com.
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 http://www. humancloning. org. accessed 9-1-99. “Human Cloning Foundation”.
Kaku, Michiu. “Visions”. Anchor Books DoubleDay. New York, London, Toronto, Sydney, Auckland.
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accessed 9-13-99. “Cloning”.