This paper reflects the research and thoughts of a student at the time the paper was written for a course at Bryn Mawr College. Like other materials on Serendip, it is not intended to be "authoritative" but rather to help others further develop their own explorations. Web links were active as of the time the paper was posted but are not updated.
2000 First Web Report
There are two different methods or ways to clone. One way is known as embryo cloning, which is also known as 'artificial twinning' because it resembles the process in which twins develop. "Human embryo cloning starts with a standard in vitro fertilization procedure. Sperm and an egg cell are mixed together on a glass dish. After conception, the zygote (fertilized egg) is allowed to develop into a blastula (a hollow mass of cells). The zygote divides first into two cells, then four, then eight... A chemical is added to the dish to remove the "zona pellucida" covering. This material provides nutrients to the cells to promote cell division. With the covering removed, the blastula is divided into individual cells which are deposited on individual dishes. They are then coated with an artificial zona pellucida and allowed to divide and develop. The experiment by Sillman et al. showed that the best results could be obtained by interrupting the zygote at the two cell stage. Many of these pairs of zygotes were able to develop to the 32 cell stage, but no further. They might well have had the potential to develop further and even mature into a viable fetus, except that the original ovum was defective and would have died anyway." (4)
The other form of cloning is known as Adult DNA cloning which was what was done in the case of Dolly. "...a cell was taken from mammary tissue of a mature 6 year old sheep while its DNA was in a dormant state. It was fused with a sheep ovum which had had its nucleus removed. The "fertilized" cell was then stimulated with an electric pulse. Out of 277 attempts at cell fusion, only 29 began to divide. These were all implanted in ewes. 13 became pregnant but only one lamb, Dolly, was born." (4)
There are certain medical benefits to cloning. First of all, we will now be able to replace damaged cells with new cells. Second, we will also be able to create human beings who will be able to act as organ donors. Third, Couples who are unable to conceive children will still be able to have children with their genes. (13) By cloning, treatments for diseases that involve damaged cells that are unable to replace themselves, (Parkinson's Disease, diabetes and muscular dystrophy) can be found. (7)
A CNN poll interviewed 1005 Americans in 1997. (4) The results were as follows:
* 89% believed that the cloning of human beings was not morally right
* 66% believed that the cloning of animals was not morally right
* 69% are scared by the connotations of cloning humans
* 74% believe that cloning is going against God's will
* 19% disagree with the statement that cloning is against God's will (4)
* 6% of Americans are in favor of human cloning (5)
There are also certain harms and disadvantages to cloning human beings. First of all this will affect the sense of individuality that people often hold on to, which will then affect genetic variation. Second, because clones are being artificially developed, they may not be considered proper citizens and then be treated worse than the rest of us. Third, cloning human beings will have significant impacts on our society and affect us psychologically. (13)
There are a number of reasons why some Americans think cloning is beneficial. Firstly people would want to clone a person who they have lost and loved as a reminder. Secondly, they think that cloning would be a good attempt to better the human race. Thirdly people have a strong desire to duplicate their own characteristics. Fourth they believe that it would benefit medical research. The fifth reason is that people are just curious to see what human cloning has to offer them and their communities. (5)
The question is, is this right? And furthermore, how will this affect us as a community? Yes, it is true that cloning may assist medical research and help us in other ways, but at what cost? The fact that some people would like to clone their dead loved ones really scares me not only because I think it is unhealthy but for some reason I just get this eerie Frankensteiny feeling...and we all know how THAT ended. My initial question when I started this project was "What are the potential benefits and disadvantages to human cloning?" However, as I was writing this paper another question popped into my head... "Do I think this is right?" The answer I came up with is no.
I realize that cloning may be beneficial in terms of medical research and finding cures for diseases and I do not deny the fact that this is important to better the human race in that way. However, aside from assisting in medical research, I do not see how cloning human beings can help our society. In my opinion, the initial euphoria that people will feel because of this new scientific miracle will soon die down and in it will be replaced by an anger and fear which will then lead to discrimination. I also think that this will result in mistrust of fellow human beings because it is such a foreign and scary concept. The fact is that creating humans in an artificial way defies nature. In a world where people cannot even tolerate different races and people who were born in different cultures how will people be able to tolerate clones that are not made in the same way, who are not conceived in the "normal" way? I do not think it is possible. Therefore I do not think that in this lifetime, cloning is beneficial to us in any way. I may be wrong. I may also just be very skeptical about the human race and their ability to accept other types and kinds of people but honestly I think that the cloning of human beings will just cause chaos and havoc and only lead to serious problems. I don't think that we are ready to take on something this foreign and new. Also, it will ruin peoples' sense of individuality if we take on the task of cloning ourselves. People will want to clone all kinds of people for their own benefits, and that in itself goes against the force of nature. Although human cloning will be extremely beneficial for medical research and will help us find cures and treatments for those diseases that we cannot yet explain, nor "fight," the human race is not ready for cloning, and it will only cause more trouble.
3) Ethical Aspects of Human Cloning
4) Human Cloning
6) New Scientist: Cloning Report: Everything You Wanted To Know
7) Scientific American: Cloning For Medicine
8) Human Cloning: Science, Ethics and Public Policy
9) Human Cloning Foundation's Homepage
10) Cloning Ethics
11) Human Cloning: Should it Be Done? What would it mean?
12) Welcome to Clone World
13) To Clone or Not to Clone: The Ethical Question
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