Genetics

Cloning



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Many people believe cloning another human being would have extremely dangerous outcomes. "Who would want another copy of themselves?" these people ask. These people may also see cloning as something more out of a science fiction movie that as an idea that may become a reality. As these people know, science fiction has no place in reality. These opponents to cloning have some very strong points to make; however, along with these drawbacks, cloning also has some incredibly positive benefits that these people may not have been aware of.




Before the benefits and drawbacks of human cloning are discussed, it helps to clarify exactly what cloning is. The best definition to explain cloning is "the creation of an organism that is an exact genetic copy of another" (Cloning). Cloning can be done by two processes: Artificial Embryo Twinning and Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer. In Artificial Embryo Twinning, scientists replicate the process in which identical twins are created. Identical twins are normally created from a zygote (a fertilized egg) separating into two embryos (instead of remaining as a single embryo and developing into one child). To create a clone, scientists divide a single embryo into two identical cells during the embryo's earlier stages of development.

In the process of Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer, scientists begin by using any cell that is not a reproductive cell. They remove this cell from a full grown female and put the nucleus of that cell into an egg cell (from which the nucleus has been removed). With a few chemical tweaks, the cell begins to behave exactly like a newly fertilized zygote. This cell then develops into an embryo and continues to develop like any other child in the womb.

One of the major benefits of cloning is being able to use the technology to help people that are sick or disabled. Some of the expected medical benefits of cloning include "a cure for heart attacks, a revolution in cosmetic surgery, organs for organ transplantation, and predictions about how cloning technology will save thousands of lives" (Smith). Scientists will be able to do many incredible things with cloning technology. One of these things includes curing heart attacks. Heart attacks can be cured by cloning healthy heart cells and injecting them into the areas of the heart that have been damaged. Since heart disease is one of the main killers in America and many other countries, cloning has the potential to save millions of lives.

Another benefit of cloning is being able to prevent disease in people who are otherwise healthy. The average person "carries eight defective genes inside them" (Smith). With human cloning technology, it is possible that we would no longer get sick because of these defective genes. As shown, cloning can become an excellent way to both prevent and cure disease.

Even with all these potential benefits to cloning, there come many drawbacks. One of these drawbacks, some scientists believe, is the "possibility of physical harm to the human embryo" (Cons). These scientists believe that technology is not yet safe enough to be used on any human being. Who would blame them? If one scientist made a single careless mistake while in the process of cloning this human being, the mistake could be either fatal or extremely disabling. These effects could happen both to the clone and to the person being cloned. Ironically, instead of helping people with disease and physical disabilities, making a mistake in the process of cloning could create even more human beings in poor health.

Another drawback of cloning is that there could be psychological harm done to children. These cloned children (and the clones themselves) could both suffer from a reduced sense of individuality. The cloned children may also feel that their future does not matter as much, now that their future also rests on a clone of themselves. Society may also see the cloned child as merely an object- not as an individual with their own thoughts and feelings. It is not a wise idea to put so many psychological pressures on these children. It is especially terrible to determine the difficulties and fates that these cloned children face- before they are even born!

As shown, cloning has both amazing benefits and extreme drawbacks. Unfortunately, we do not yet know enough about cloning technology to learn how to best control these extreme drawbacks. We also do not know the full extent of the extreme damage we could create upon society by using this technology in the wrong way. A suggested way to approach the cloning debate is to wait a few more decades- or at least until technology is more advanced- to start experimenting with human cloning. The best suggestion is not to give up the idea entirely, since cloning has the potential to help many lives. The better thing to do is to wait until scientists can better perfect cloning technology so that many of the drawbacks of human cloning can be reduced or banished.

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More about this author: Amy Rosenburg

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