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Cloning Essay

2250 words - 9 pages

We have heard a great deal of public outcry ever since Scotland first cloned a sheep a few years back. Now there are countries which are cloning cattle to provide beef for their nation (Golden). These realities have made many people incredibly frightened at the prospect of science using the information to clone human beings. While this is a very legitimate argument, for we do not need to run the risk of cloning human beings and opening ourselves up to the prospects that could only be imagined in a frightening science fiction novel, we do need to understand that cloning is a very unique scientific process which should be allowed due to the fact that it can improve the lives of many people ...view middle of the document...

And in a more recent event, "A two month old calf, cloned from genes taken from the ear of an adult cow, died after developing blood and heart problems" (Jones 1230). These realities clearly point to some issues that have yet to be resolved. This issue concerning the calf, is further illustrated in the following: "At birth, the female calf appeared blissfully normal, and the French scientists who had nurtured her since her start in a petri dish heaved a sigh of relief. But the celebration was short lived. A month later, tests revealed a sharp drop in the calf's hemoglobin. Iron supplements failed to remedy it. At seven weeks, the calf died suddenly from massive anemia. This young calf was a clone, the product of a single skin cell from another animal's ear. And her mysterious death, reported this month in the Lancet, is just one of many failures in this dazzling new specialty. Cloned cows are at least 10 times more likely to be unhealthy than their naturally conceived counterparts. No one knows why. 'The problem,' says James Robl, a developmental biologist and cloning pioneer at the University of Massachusetts- Amherst, 'is the embryos all look fine. We don't see [abnormalities] until eight months of gestation.' Still, scientists suspect that something goes awry in the embryos' first days" (Couzin 65).It is believed that one of the possible problems is genetic imprinting, which is essentially a poorly understood process in which maternal and paternal genes ensure that neither one actually predominates in the offspring. It is believed that with only one parent, "the cloned fetus could be left without a balance of genes necessary to thrive. Scientists point to disorders triggered when imprinting goes wrong that resemble those they see in clones" (Couzin 65). One of these is called Beckwith-Weidemann syndrome and is characterized by an unnaturally large child with an oversized tongue and internal organs.It is also believed, however, that such clone defects could be caused by the process itself.There is truly very little that is known about early embryonic development, handling the embryo, or even creating it--which at present involves using an "electric shock to fuse the donor's cell with an oocyte that lacks a nucleus--could disrupt crucial growth processes" (Couzin 65).It's also likely that scientists simply haven't completely mastered a complex and novel technology, which is quite likely the real reason behind the assumed failures."Indeed, Ryuzo Yanagimachi, a professor of reproductive biology at the University of Hawaii Medical School and the first to clone mice, calls his 1 percent success rate "a rather encouraging figure." But 1 percent success, coupled with many more disastrous outcomes, means that human cloning can't be considered until the process is almost foolproof" (Couzin 65). Most of the serious scientists are quite optimistic that a few years of devoted work is all it will take to make significant improvements to the current...

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