Should Human Cloning Be Allowed
by Jeetendra Prakash Murdan
Mary Had a Little Lamb
Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was slightly gray
It didn’t have a father, just some borrowed DNA.
It sort of had a mother, though the ovum was on loan,
It was not so much a lambkin as a little lamby clone.
And soon it had a fellow clone, and soon it had some more,
They followed her to school one day, all cramming through the door.
It made the children laugh and sing, the teachers found it droll,
There were too many lamby clones, for Mary to control.
No other could control the sheep, since the programs didn’t vary
So the scientists resolved it all, by simply cloning Mary.
But now they feel quite sheepish, those scientists unwary,
One problem solved but what to do, with Mary, Mary, Mary.
- Anomymous Internet Post
2. Science Background
3 Arguments in favour of motion that human cloning should be legalised
4. Arguments against motion that human cloning should be legalised
The world of science and the public at large were both shocked and fascinated by the announcement in the journal Nature by Ian Wilmut that he had successfully cloned a sheep from a single cell of an adult sheep . Scientists were in part surprised, because many had believed that after the very early stage of embryo development at which differentiation of cell function begins to take place, it would not be possible to achieve cloning of an adult mammal by nuclear transfer. In this process, the nucleus from the cell of an adult mammal is inserted into an ovum, and the resulting embryo develops following the complete genetic code of the mammal from which the inserted nucleus was obtained. But some scientists and much of the public were troubled or apparently even horrified at the prospect that if adult mammals such as sheep could be cloned, then cloning of adult humans by the same process would likely be possible as well. Whether the process can be successfully replicated in other mammals, much less in humans, is not known. But those who were horrified at the prospect of human cloning were not assuaged by the fact that the science with humans is not yet there, for it looked to them now perilously close. The response of most scientific and political leaders to the prospect of human cloning, was of immediate and strong condemnation. In the United States, President Clinton immediately banned federal financing of human cloning research and asked privately funded scientists to halt such . The Director-General of the World Health Organization characterized human cloning as “ethically unacceptable as it would violate some of the basic principles which govern medically assisted reproduction. These include respect for the dignity of the human being and the protection of the security of human genetic material” .Around the world similar immediate condemnation was heard, as human cloning was called a violation of human rights and human dignity. Human cloning had been made illegal in nearly all countries in Europe and had been condemned by the Council of Europe
2. Science background
2.1 What is cloning?
Cloning refers to the creation of organisms which are almost genetically identical. Clones can be treated as genetically identical to the organisms from which the nuclear DNA is taken. There is in fact a minute difference, because the egg also contains a small amount of DNA in mitochondria, small bodies in the main part of the egg.
Just like it happens with things produced by sexual intercourse the clone inherits this DNA only from its mother, not from the nucleus donor. This difference does not affect the principles of cloning. The first step of cloning is to obtain eggs from a female, by treating it with hormones. These eggs are then subjected to nuclear transfer: the nucleus of an egg, containing the mother's DNA, is sucked out using a pipette. It is then replaced by the nucleus of a cell from the organism to be copied (see Fig 1).
This can be done by placing the cell of an adult in contact with the egg, and then passing a pulse of electricity through the liquid bathing the two cells. The egg and the adult cell thus fuse together, and the resulting embryo begins its development. This process can be repeated several times to produce a series of identical clones. 'Human cloning' means 'reproductive cloning' i.e.creating a baby by cloning. 'Clone' refers to the person or organism that results from cloning. 'Clonee' refers to the person who is genetically copied.
2.2 History of cloning
Contrary to popular belief, Dolly was not the first cloned sheep, much contrary to popular belief. Sheep, cattle and other animals have been cloning since the mid-1980s .However the source of the donor nucleus was taken from an embryo , in all these early examples. Embryonic cells have undergone only a few of the many changes in gene expression that occur during the development of an adult organism, so they can be ‘re-programmed’ to go back to the start of the process. Before the clone Dolly (See Fig 2), it was believed impossible to re-programme adult cells.
Since Dolly scientists have cloned mice, rats, cows, goats, cats, horses and donkeys using the same or related techniques. In most cases the efficiency is very low except for cows for which high efficiency has been reported. Monkeys, dogs and other species have not been cloned. Cloned human embryos have been reported to have been created several times since 1998. South Korean scientists claimed to have been the first ones to have cloned human embryos, but the government closed down their laboratory. A scientific paper on cloned human embryos was published in 2001, by scientists from Advanced Cell Technologies, a US biotechnology firm .
The company said that this research was for research sake not for reproductive purposes.There are reports that Chinese scientists claimed to have cloned human embryos,but there unsubstantiated evidence.. US scientist Professor Severino Antinori, and the Italian IVF expert, Panayiotis Zavos, claimed to be planning to create cloned babies. At the beginning of 2003, The Raelians, a Canadian-based religious cult, claimed to have Created at least five cloned children but those were merely publicity strategies similar to those employed by David Rorvik in the 1970s. Reports in 2003 suggest that Ian Wilmut, the one who cloned Dolly, was about to start creating cloned human embryos for medical research purposes.
2.3 CLONING BY SOMATIC CELL NUCLEAR TRANSFER
Briggs and King experimented on the frog species using an approached they called “somatic cell nuclear transfer”, a method first theorized in the 1930s by German embryologist Hans Spemann. The procedure involves removing the nucleus of a somatic cell and inserting it into an “enucleated” unfertilized egg cell (fig. 3).
The transplanted nucleus begins to divide and multiply, as in a normal cell, but retaining its unique genetic identity. In the 1970s the British biologist John Gurdon successfully cloned a tadpole from a somatic cell proving that a developed embryo or differentiated cells can be reactivated and can produce a new life.
To accomplish the same feat on mammals required quantum leap since cloning a mammal involves more complicated procedures than with amphibians. Collecting mammalian eggs is harder than frog. Cloned embryos must then be transplanted into a womb to reproduce a mammal clone.
2.4 GENES AND STEM CELLS
A gene (Fig. 3) a string of DNA that codes for a type of protein . Genes hold the information to build and maintain an organism's cells and pass genetic traits to offspring Genes are found in long coiled chains called chromosomes. They are located in the nuclei of the cells in the body:
Stem cells (Fig. 5) are primordial cells that are capable of developing into a variety of types of cells. Some stem cells are found in the body of an adult . Early embryos also contain some kinds of stem cells. Stem cells can be cultured in dishes and have the potential to be used to generate "therapeutic tissues" or "spare organs":
Although there are many people in favour of use of stem cells from adult and from embryos, there is strong resistance against use of stem cells from embryo as manipulation and destruction of embryos is not desirable by many.
3. ARGUMENTS IN FAVOUR OF THE MOTION THAT HUMAN CLONING SHOULD BE ALLOWED
3.1 Human cloning would allow infertile parents to have offsprings.
Cloning would allow women and men who are infertile to produce an offspring that is biologically related to them. Embryos might also be cloned in order to enhance the number of embryos for implantation and improve the chances of successful conception. Although Individuals should be free to choose a means of reproduction the benefits from human cloning to relieve infertility are greater. It is true that large number of children are available for adoption but people have a strong desire for having and raising a child biologically related to them.
3.2 Human cloning would enable couples in which one party risks transmitting some hereditary disease to an offspring, to reproduce without doing so.
It is true that by using donor sperm or egg donation, such hereditary risks can be avoided. But this may be unacceptable to some couples or at least less desirable than cloning, This is because it introduces a third party’s genes into reproduction, instead of giving the couple’s offspring only the genes of one of them. But there are not data on the likely number of persons who would wish to use human cloning for this purpose.
3.3 Human cloning would enable a person to obtain needed organs or tissues for transplantation
Human cloning will solve the embarrassing problem of finding oneself a donor more so one that would be compatible and also absolutely remove or at least reduce significantly the chances of transplant rejection by the host At the same go it will prevent organ trafficking and sale of organ. This would be a form of insurance policy to enable treatment of certain kinds of medical problems. However at times the need would be too urgent and there won’t be time to clone and develop a twin for the organ to be available for transplantation. Also if an organ is needed like a heart or a liver this will presume that the twin will not be maintained in life. Although this procedure is technically plausible it does not sound moral. But further research should aim at cloning only the organs needed and not a human being in its own right. The way it can be done is that after cell differentiation, some of the brain cells of the embryo or fetus would be removed so that it could then be grown as a brain-dead body for spare parts for its earlier twin. This body clone cannot be harmed, because of its lack of consciousness.
3.4 Human cloning would enable individuals to clone someone who had who had died, for example, a child.
No wonder, if human cloning were available, some individuals would want to use it in order to clone someone who had special meaning to them, such as a child who had died. Even though the cloned child had the same genes and was subjected to the same environment, it would still remain a different child than the one they had loved and lost. But cloning the lost child might help the parents to accept and move on from their loss. The appearance of the cloned twin might however be a constant reminder of the child they had lost. Nevertheless, if human cloning enabled some individuals to clone a someone who had special meaning to them and doing so gave them deep satisfaction then so much the better.
3.5 Human cloning would enable the duplication of individuals of great talent, genius or character
Cloning would benefit the society by being able to replicate extraordinary individuals— a Mozart, Einstein or Gandhi. What made Mozart, Einstein or Gandhi extraordinary individuals was the confluence of their particular genetic endowments with the environments in which they lived. Cloning them would produce individuals with the same genetic inheritances. Their capabilities were the product of their inherited genes and their environments. Cloning them might well produce individuals with exceptional capacities.
4. ARGUMENTS AGAINST THE MOTION THAT HUMAN CLONING SHOULD BE ALLOWED
4.1 Risk of abuse of the technology
We can imagine what Hitler would have done with cloning technology if available it to him. Powerful leaders in every era will seek to make bad use of this technology for their own purposes. Developing cloning technology will make it likely. We cannot have the so-called therapeutic cloning without a priori having developed reproductive cloning because the technique used to make cloned babies is the same as that to make a cloned embryo to try to make replacement tissues. And at the speed at which biotechnology is accelerating there will surely be other ways to get such cells - adult stem cell technology. It is rather naive to create a complete embryonic identical twin embryo just to use the stem cells.It would be much better to take cells from the adult and trigger them directly to regress to a more primitive form without the ethical issues raised by inserting a full adult set of genes into an unfertilised egg.
4.2 Emotional Pressure on clone
A clone would grow up knowing her mother is her sister and her grandmother is her mother. Her father would be her brother-in-law. Every time that her mother would look at her, she would be seeing herself growing up. There would be a strong emotional pressure on the teenager trying to establish her own identity. What would happens to a marriage when the "father" sees his wife's clone grow up into the exact replica of the 18 year old girl he fell in love with 30 years ago? He might take her to bed or might want to. Or if the child knows it is the twin of a dead brother or sister she would feel bad knowing that she was merely made as a direct replacement for the deceased one. It is a human experiment bound to fail because the child will never be identical in every way, despite the hopes of the parents. One reason will be that the child will be brought up in a highly unnatural way: one where grief has been replaced into making a clone instead of accepting to loss. The family situation would be completely different than that the other twin experienced. That in itself will place strong pressures on the emotional development of the girl or boy. There is no child psychiatrist in the world who could say that there will not be very strong emotional risk to the cloned child as a consequence of these pressures.
4.3 The welfare of cloned children
The first problem for clones is the way they will be treated, and the impact of being a clone upon their psychological development. As happens with identical’ twins, it seems likely that cloning parents will tend to reinforce the genetic sameness, in the way they treat the child. This is especially true with the egomaniac self-cloner, but is likely to be a part of the behaviour of all cloning parents. It is sometimes said that all parents manipulate their children’s development, yet we do not make laws against it. Moreover, this tendency seems more likely to be quite pronounced with clones. The mere fact of making a person an object in this way, and of placing oneself in the position of designer, will tend to encourage it. Ordinary parents have high hopes but cloners will have high expectations; and the child will quickly pick up what is expected of him. Clones will grow up knowing quite well about their future as compared to normal children, and this will restrict their feeling of having an open future. They may find it hard to feel that they have a personality of their own.. Cloning would interfere with basic aspects of the human condition: kinship relationships, genetic uniqueness and subjecthood. Twins often have psychological challenges, but they do not have to deal with the added difficulties of fundamentally disturbed kinship, and of being a designed object. British law requires the regulator to take into consideration the welfare of the child in deciding whether to allow the use of reproductive technologies and it is unlikely that cloning would pass this test.
4.4 Dignity of the Clone
Reproductive cloning would decrease the respect for Individuals because of the feeling that they are replaceable. Reproductive technology raises questions on human values, dignity, worth and juridical rights because the person cannot be used as a mere mechanical instrument, and individuals are not repeatable units. Disruption of family relations can also become common with cloning technology. This will influence the individuals’ sense of personal dignity. The science of cloning is inexact and it is not clear how far it may cause suffering to human beings. The relationship between identity and dignity is strong. Identity may be considered from a number of different perspectives :-, personal, perceived and legal. From the view of personal identity the question arises as to whether a cloned individual will have a full sense of personal identity. Individualism is linked to identity and plays an ever increasing role in the conception of personal dignity. The notion of personal dignity demands a degree of individual recognition. There is a potential identity crisis for a cloned human as he may not be perceived as a full human being. There may be cases where cloning may be due to the desire of an individual to continue his life through the production of cloned offspring. However, the identity of each individual is drawn from his education, relationships and life experiences and a clone may be condemned to live in the shoes his biological parent. The Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights states that a person cannot be reduced to their genetic characteristics. Cloned humans may be abused which runs contrary to their well being. The legal status and identity of a clone is likely to be a problem. However, as a human being any clone would have equal rights under the UN Declaration of Human Rights. The dignity of a clone depends on the way they are treated by family, society and the law. The international community has to ban reproductive cloning as cloning would be degrade human dignity.
Whether human cloning should be allowed or not is a highly controversial issue. The arguments in favour of human cloning are as follows. Firstly, human cloning would allow infertile parents to have a child of their own. Secondly, it would allow couples where one party risks to transmit a disease to the offspring to reproduce without doing so. Thirdly, it would allow a person to have an organ for transplantation. Fourthly it would allow people to clone a beloved one who had died , a child for example. Lastly it would allow for duplication of individuals of great talents like Gandhi. The arguments against legalisation of Human Cloning are as follows. Firstly, there is the risk of abuse of technology by future dictators. Secondly, there would be too much emotional pressure on the clone as people might not treat them as full fledge human beings but rather as clones. Thirdly it might not be in the welfare of clones. They might not enjoy the rights of a normal citizen. They might not receive the love of parents. Lastly it would not dignify clones. Human beings have dignity and that dignity is recognised. If clones are massively made in laboratories they might be enslaved. In the light of the above expose, we see that the arguments against cloning overweigh arguments in favour of cloning. Hence we conclude that cloning should not be allowed.
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