Cloning

Mary

Bioethics, which is the study of value judgments pertaining to human conduct in the area of biology and includes those related to the practice of medicine, has been an important aspect of all areas in the scientific field (Bernstein, Maurice, M.D.). It is one of the factors that says whether or not certain scientific research can go on, and if it can, under which rules and regulations it must abide by. One of the most recent and controversial issues facing our society today is the idea of cloning. On February 23, 1997, Ian Wilmut, a Scottish scientist, along with his colleagues at the Roslin Institute and PPL Therapeutics, announced to the world that they had cloned a lamb, which they named Dolly, after Dolly Parton, from an adult sheep (Mario,Christopher). The two share the same nucleic DNA, but differ in terms of their mitochondrial DNA, which is vitally important for the regulation of the cell. The media and the press ignored this fact, and thus claimed that Dolly and her ?mother? were genetically identical, which sparked a fury of outcry all around the world. The technique of transferring a nucleus from a somatic cell into an egg cell of which the nucleus had been removed, called nuclear transplantation, is an extension of research that had been ongoing for over 40 years.

Up until now, scientists thought that adult cells could not be ?reprogrammed? to behave like a fertilized egg and create an embryo, but the evidence obtained by Dolly?s success prove otherwise. The issues of cloning have been around for a long time, starting with the publication of Joshua Lederberg?s 1966 article on cloning in the American Naturalist. The public?s interest has been perked by many sci-fi books, films, and movies including Aldous Huxley?s 1932 novel ?Brave New World,? 1973?s ?Sleeper,? the 1978 film ?The Boys from Brazil?. Most recently, the movie ?Multiplicity? dealt with replicating Billy Crystal over and over (Mario, Christopher). The ethical, legal, and moral issues aroused by cloning have been raised by previous projects, and are now simply emerging again, with its focus on three major points: the shift from sexual reproduction with that of asexual replication of existing genes; the ability to predetermine the genes of a child; and the ability to create many genetically identical children (Report/Recommendations of the NBAC).

The public responded to Dolly with a mixture of fear and excitement, questioning the benefits and the disasters that could happen in the future if research was to continue. From a poll taken by Maurice Bernstein, M.D., the results showed that 72% of the votes said that cloning should be prohibited by law. They believe that cloning for any reason would be an unethical and immoral thing to do. A common misconception of cloning is that it is the instantaneous creation of a fully-grown adult from the cells of the individual. Also, that an exact copy, although much younger, of an existing person could be made, reflecting the belief that one?s genes bear a simple relationship to the physical and psychological traits that make up a person.

This is one point that those against cloning are often worried about. That the clone would have no soul, no mind, no feelings or emotions of their own, no say in how their life will be with their destiny predetermined for them, and that each individual clone would not be unique. They are also afraid that the clone will not be treated like a person, more like a worthless second copy, or a fill-in for what was there but now is lost. Although the genes do play an important part, its the interaction among a person?s genetic inheritance, their environment, memories, different life experiences, and the process of learning that results in the uniqueness of each individual (Mario, Christopher).

The risks involved in cloning people as well as animals are of a much greater magnitude than many people realize. Our society needs to begin weighing in the dangerous consequences before making any solid conclusions, because cloning may wind up costing us much more than we bargained for. The most beneficial result that cloning can present is the ability to create organs. But, we must realize the risks involved as well. There would most likely be many failures before there were to be even one success, and there is no substantial evidence that this would even be possible. So, the risks