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Among one of the most intensely researched areas in biology in the world today, is cloning. After taking office US president Barrack Obama reversed a Bush era executive order that limited funding for stem cell research. The belief among liberals is that stem cell research will help in solving some of the most afflicting diseases humanity has experienced so far.
Simply put this is the reproduction of genetically replicated organisms. It does happen in biology when organisms like bacteria and amoeba reproduce asexually. The capabilities that human cloning presents many controversies that overshadow the advantages that are to be derived from the process (Zhong & Liang, 23). It presents a paradoxical bitter sweet situation that will put the concerned parties in a dilemma. This has been the debate in the past presenting the many advantages and disadvantages of the human cloning process.
The arguments presented in this paper are for the advancement and legalization of cloning. The research paper looks at how the human cloning will improve the lives of humans. It will also focus on the religious perspectives as well as ethical issues highlighting the advantages.
Supporters of cloning advance a myriad of reasons why it should be allowed and why authorities should increase funding for cloning activities. One of the Medical arguments is that human cloning shall help heal some of the most challenging diseases like cancer (Think quest, 2).
However it's the ethics bit and the possibility of drastic reordering of every aspect of humanity that has generated so much heat and debate on the topic of human cloning. Religious organizations have almost been unanimous that cloning will tantamount to challenging the order that was established by God (Laura, 1). They argue that everybody has a right to acquire his/her individuality just as dictated by nature. Others religions like the Christians compare human cloning to blasphemy because human beings will somehow take over the role of creation that is a preserve of God.
There is fear that like nuclear weapons today's, some rogue nations, individuals or organizations like Al-Qaeda terror network may obtain the know-how and use it for other purposes different from what it was meant to do. The amount technological abuse that can result from the availability of the human cloning technology will be unprecedented. According to Janardan if cloning is legalized, it will be in direct conflict the existing morals and human rights believes and ethics that characterize the society (43). These may be the typical teething problems that every new product or technology faces when introduced in the market.
Human rights campaigners have too voiced concerns about the nature of experiments that will carried out in the cloning process. Some scientists have confirmed that there will be a lot of dead babies along the way in the human cloning process. Stem cell research comes to into full perspective when considering the issue of death as part of conducting human cloning. There is a lot of destruction of embryos that begs has ignited the debate on when life begins (Wang, 12). On the other hand the opponents fail to realize that cloning has been with human beings for thousand of years, although in agriculture. Agricultural practices such as propagation have been used to the advantage of humanity and that is what exactly authorities need to do-ensure tight controls on the technology. Without considering the religious and ethical opinions there are numerous advantages that are associated with cloning.
What is it?
DNA short for deoxyribonucleic acid contains all the information about an organism (Laura, 3). It contains all the instructions about the growth, acting, color and intelligence. Every organism in the world has a different DNA which grants the different characteristics that are associated with individuals. Biotechnology has borrowed the idea and it's somehow possible to create copies of DNA strands that can technically enable scientists to reproduce a copy of any organism, living or dead. Shall defines molecular cloning as being concerned with the replication of DNA strands while cell cloning is all about the replication of cells (6). If allowed it can enable an individual to reproduce a copy of himself for medical purposes or any other use for that matter. The resulting organism a clone is an exact copy of the living thing. In addition to the above as regards the scientist's ability to make copies of organisms from a single parent, scientists also have the ability to split organisms once the embryo is formed. The process is called twinning or blastomere which ensures the resulting organisms will have genetically identity with both parents.
Reasons for it
The merits that accompany the legalization of cloning easily overwhelm the calls against it. From whichever angle one looks at it there is a universal agreement that if it has to take place it has to be for the common good of all humanity (Think quest, 1).Cloning stands is in a much better position to solve medical agricultural and nature's problems of the world than any other technology available. Scientists have been able to clone plants and adult animals like Dolly the ship. If seen from the same perspective human cloning shall bring along many benefits to the human race. Cloning will assist persons to better understand human genetics. Genetic composition though understood today, it's not full exhausted. Therefore cloning will provide the platform where researchers will unravel human genetic traits in a better way. Genetic diseases will be understood so that to ensure better treatment processes can be developed (Zhong & Liang, 4). The areas where cloning will be most useful are explored below.
The field of medicine will revolutionalise in the event cloning is allowed to take place freely. Genetically acquired diseases are spreading faster thanks to the ballooning populations of the world. Such conditions neither have effective treatments nor cures that can guarantee that children born on that generational line will be free from them. With these diseases the risk of failure of major human organs is high. According to an article by Thinkquest cloning offers the best chance for the cloning and transplantation of the ailing organs to the patient (2). For instance pigs can be cloned and their liver transplanted to human beings. Because the pig liver can work like that of a human being it can be used on a makeshift basis till a viable donor is found. This was done in 1988 by American and Japanese scientists when Xena the pig was cloned and its organs used in human transplanting. Xena's was a case of breeding transgenetic animals in aid of humans with specialized organ conditions.
Cloning will provide the possibility of the formation of regenerative tissues and cells that will enable the treatment of heart and kidney diseases, cancer and diabetes. Other conditions that will gain from the cloning in stem cells and therapeutic applications will be Parkinson's disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, stroke and heart attack. Using new tissues obtained from stem cells doctors will easily be able to repair or replace damaged tissues (Wang 24). Scientists will be able to clone a new organ in the cases where an organ cannot be treated. This will make it easier to make artificial organs and effectively transfer them to the needy patients. This will in turn assist in reducing the incidences of organ failure and rejection since they will be developed from ones cells. Organ rejection cases will be minimal since no immune response can be triggered hence the patient wont be required to take immunosuppressive drugs as is the case today. This is a common source of discomfort for the many patients who receive donated organs today.
Another topic that will make the human rights campaigners once again to be at logger heads with scientists is the possibility of obtaining bone marrows from therapeutic clones of young babies for the treatment of their originals (Shall 5). Young babies will act like copies of their siblings hence increasing compatibility thus chances of recovery are high. It will solve diseases like leukemia.
In the United States alone 15% of couples are infertile. The already existing technologies that seek to assist such couples only have a maximum of twenty percent success rate. Currently infertile couples split or end up adopting children whom they are not genetically related to. Though this serves the purpose the failure to reproduce ones own genetically related offspring is a source of stress and self esteem problems. In such cases of infertile parents a fertility treatment will be easier to create to allow infertile couples to have children. Laura states that the best and safest method supported by cloning will be implantation of a fully formed embryo to the woman of the childless couple (8). The embryo will probably be from the couple's cells. It will be advantageous to them since the children born from this arrangement will at least have some DNA from their parents. An argument advanced by the liberals that does not support this idea points out that this will act as a way of enabling gay people to have children, something that they cannot do currently. For homosexual men they only need to look for surrogate mothers while lesbians can be implanted with the embryo or still look for a surrogate mother as well.
Cosmetic and reconstruction surgery
Janardan states that reconstruction efforts of burn victims and other skin conditions will also benefit from developing human cloning technologies (3). Cloning will be able provide skin grafts that will make reconstructive surgery easier. It will also be possible to revive back to life extinct organisms that are though to be beneficial to human beings. Perhaps the best cosmetic performance that cloning will be able to accord to people will be the reversal to aging. Though still unclear cloning will be able to reverse the effects of aging lime wrinkling skin and weakening bones. This will enable people to live for more years while looking younger in advanced ages. In addition the technology can also be used to produce cartilages and bones to help burn and accident victims.
In today's society people are increasingly becoming choosy on the children they want to have. They consider athletic abilities and other features that they would want their children to have. This trend seems to support the human cloning process since there is no other way that this can be made possible. Thanks to the technologies associated with cloning, people will in future be able to have "Designer Babies" (Thinkquest 12). Couples will be able to choose for their children characteristics like IQ and athleticism. Looked from the advantageous point of view one can argue that it's good for humanity because people with exceptional abilities like scientists and artistes will be created. This will a step forward in solving matters that are currently beyond the ability of the humans at the moment. In addition genetic engineering will be enable to guarantee the reproduction of healthy populations. Children born with inherited conditions will become a thing of the past after these technologies come into full swing this is because scientists will be able to manipulate the genome of unborn babies to make them kind of resistant to disease to perhaps stem the costs associated with health care.
There is no doubt that agriculture has to be improved if the rising world population is to be well fed. Recently the United Nations warned that over one billion people are faced with hunger thus leading to the calls for the adoption of genetically modified foods to feed the world's hungry. Shall documents that these foods are billed as having a higher nutritional content besides taking the least time in maturation (2). They therefore present the best opportunity that the world as to provide nutritious food at the shortest time possible. The nutritional value can be manipulated through cloning thus scientists will be able to for instance to reduce cholesterol levels while raising that of vitamins. Also species that can withstand adverse weather and mature faster as well as being disease resistant will be produced through cloning.
The cloning of genetically modified animals too will be a big step in the improvement of agriculture since it will make it possible to produce transgenic animals. These transgenic animals contain genetic code that has been manipulated to blend with some human proteins. As a result the animals are able to produce products like milk and eggs that have human proteins and medicines in them. Some of the foods like beef have been certified by some authorities as safe for consumption this has been supported by reports that indicate that over 49% of Americans say they feel safe eating genetically modified fruits and vegetable. For farmers who have a business leaning the extra production of products such as milk will improve profit margins while at the same time aiding in economic growth of the countries and localities where they are based and also assisting in eradicating some diseases like the foot and mouth disease thus ensuring farmers breed healthy livestock.
Since the world was created millions of species have disappeared while others are endangered this can be associated with pollution that has escalated over the years thus threatening many species with extinction (Shall 12). While the extinction of some like the dinosaurs and mammoths saved were somehow advantageous, there is a general consensus that the current plant and animal species must be preserved. Extinction will be largely an act of nature with some influence from human activities. In the cases where the people will not be able to control the disappearance cloning will come in hand in the storage of DNA and possible future reproduction of the organisms for the good of humanity this will assist in cases where for example trees with medicinal values may be stored to be bred when necessary. On the same note studies suggest that cloning can be able to revive dead species of plants and animals ensuring that medicine again will be boosted in the cases where the plants will have medicinal value. In other scenarios animals may be brought back to life for their aesthetic value or for the use in experiments.
The debate about cloning is not about to subside any time soon due to the weight of the issues being discussed. On the contrary it's more likely to get more heated. Zhong & Liang states that any action that has to be taken as far as cloning is concerned must be carefully evaluated and its benefits and repercussions weighed carefully so as to ensure that safety and wellbeing of the current and future generations are not endangered (9). It must be based purely on the benefits that it will accord humanity. Banning it or limiting its research is not an option that should be encouraged since it might be expensive in the long run when problems that could have been controlled through cloning have spiraled out of control. Cloning will be beneficial to human beings and only tight control that does not limit its ability to help is needed to regulate this emerging technology.