Cloning Basics – Are We Ready For This?
What is natural about cloning? Nothing as far as I can tell through my research. Cloning has been taking place since Robert Briggs and Thomas King first cloned a Tadpole in 1952. Yes, cloning has been going on for nearly 70 years. Some may say there are pros and cons to cloning. I’m still leaning on the side that says there are far more cons than pros when it comes to cloning.
What exactly is cloning? The goal of cloning is to control the reproductive process. During a natural reproduction cycle there is no way to control which genes are used in the process. However with cloning, control in this process does exist.
One of the sad tales of cloning is that typically all cloned animals die young if they birth at all. Scientists don’t yet understand this, yet find that cloned baby animals often resemble premature animals. Their lungs may not be fully developed, their hearts not quite right, their livers full of fat, or other serious issues. As they age, they grow hugely overweight and bloated.
Unfortunately cloning has been embraced in the U.S., for years. In fact, for those of you in the U.S., the FDA in 2008 decided it was OK to drink milk and eat meat that comes from cloned animals. The real sad state of this is that the FDA requires no special labeling to indicate what you are consuming comes from cloned animals. Just like GMOs, they side with the Corporations, those entities with money, to line their pockets, ignoring the health and welfare of the people, of which they have been entrusted to do. There has been no long-term testing to insure cloned animals and their byproducts have no negative impact on humans.
A Science Reporter, by the name Rick Weiss once stated “The whole prospect of eating cloned food leaves me inexplicably disgusted.” He says he doesn’t like the idea of a world where identical animals are produced like food pellets in a factory. These are my sentiments exactly.
Of course I don’t eat meat, so for me, I’m assured I won’t be ingesting any cloned cows, but I love cheese, and I’d be sick to find out that the cheese I eat is made from byproducts of cloned cows. Unfortunately I think this is all just the beginning. I’m sure over time, just like GMOs more and more of the food consumed by the American public will be from cloned sources.
There are many arguments for and against cloning, and I intend to cover a few of them in this blog. You may be asking yourself why clone animals. Well take for instance the fact the average cow produces 17,000 pounds of milk annually. However, there are some cows that can produce up to 45,000 pounds. The argument is that by cloning these high producing cows you could reduce the number of cows needed for the same yield. When it comes to show animals, it is felt the best characteristics could be cloned in animals. Race horses for example could be cloned.
There are many companies now involved in cloning. Some are focused on animals, and others on human cloning. Animal cloning is not limited to race horses, and animals for consumption. Cloning pets is becoming a big business. Some say we should be looking at cloning extinct or endangered species as well. In 2009, the Pyrenean Ibex, the first extinct animal was cloned. It only lived 7 minutes due to lung issues. Currently the Wooly Mammoth is being cloned, and I ask seriously, for what purpose? It is estimated that the Wooly Mammoth went extinct approximately 4000 years ago. Perhaps we should let “sleeping dogs lie”.
Remember the movie Jurassic Park? Well with cloning this could become a reality. A reality to clone a dinosaur. In fact some researchers are looking for extinct animals in the frozen tundra to experiment with cloning them. They believe cloning will be more successful if they find artifacts of extinct animals that have been frozen.
Ok, for me I don’t get it. I just can’t find any positives of cloning animals. In 2000 the pig was being cloned for testing medicines. Since early this year, 2014 they estimate that over 500 pigs have been cloned for this purpose alone. But again, that is just the start. In China, they have begun to “industrialize” cloning and are churning out 500 pigs a year which they say will be used for testing medicines. In fact, they have altered the genes so some will only live to the age of 1, others they are changing the genes so they will be more susceptible to Alzheimers. Isn’t this animal cruelty?
Before we head down the path of human cloning, let me provide you some insight into a few movies that have ventured down this topic. Do you remember the movie Star Wars? The military was made of clones. How about Moon? This movie touched on the subject of exploitation of clones being used for all the dangerous and undesirable work. The Island, was a great movie staring Ewan McGregor, and Scarlet Johansson. This movie explored the idea of cloning humans for organ harvesting. Last year an excellent movie, Cloud Atlas staring Halley Berry, and Tom Hanks touched on clones being generated for the sole purpose to serve others providing both manual and emotional labor.
These ideas played out in movies are what many people today fear with human cloning research. Remember, often times science fiction plays out in our future. Before we venture down the path of actually cloning a full human, the world society as a whole needs to put into place laws and regulations that prevent us from creating a society of clones that are used, and abused, and considered less than humans.
Human cloning consists of two types. Therapeutic cloning is cloning cells from a human for use in medicinal research and transplants. There is a lot of active research ongoing in this field. Reproductive cloning would involve making an entire cloned human.
In 1996, Dolly was the first sheep that was cloned. President Clinton announced later in May of 1997, that human cloning should be banned. However, he only had it banned for 5 years and then human cloning could continue. This partial ban was thrown out by Congress.
In 2001, the UK stated that human cloning was legal as long as embryos are made for medical research and destroyed before implantation.
Many states have passed their own legislation addressing legalization of cloning. California has relatively lenient laws regarding cloning, and many corporations have started up, or moved to this state to pursue their research. You can bet there are probably many companies out there in the race to develop the first human clone.
In 2006 President Bush signed the “Fetus Farming Prohibition Act”. This act prohibits the use of fetal cells or tissue to be produced to deliberately gestate a human unborn child to provide tissue. It also prohibits use of cells or tissue from a human unborn child gestated in uterus of a “non-human” animal. Now that just scares me to think that these embryos of cloned humans could be placed in utero of non-human animals.
Many scientists say the efforts to grow cloned humans in a womb results in 90% – 95% dying due to “accidental” miscarriage and still birth. Using these embryos for research results in 100% of their deaths. This is a real ethical question that should be addressed as it is a big threat to human dignity. Some recent studies go further explaining that cells derived from cloning will not be “therapeutic” unless cloned embryos are developed to the fetal or even the newborn stage before the cells are harvested. We all understand the implications of that statement, and pure and simple that means taking the life of a human clone simply for research.
Dr. Wilmut one of the scientists accredited with cloning Dolly, in 2007 turned his back on cloning. He says that therapeutic human cloning is dismissed since in such cases the transfer of immunologically identical cells is expected to induce the same rejection. Specifically this occurs in diseases of the central nervous system because that system has a weak immune response. This holds true for auto immune diseases as well such as Juvenile Diabetes, because of the exact genetic makeup.
Many people will argue that this research is imperative to making advances toward curing many diseases, such as: Juvenile diabetes, Parkinson’s, MS, leukemia, sickle-cell anemia, bone damage, heart damage and dozens of other ailments. However, other research are beginning to show that by using adult stem cells, umbilical cord blood, and other sources, advances are being made in working toward cures for many of the aforementioned diseases as well as spinal cord injuries. All with far less ethical and moral issues.
For more insight on cloning, check out the following sites:
* Testimony of Dr. Richard M. Doerflinger before Maryland Senate Committee “Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2007”
* The “Science Daily” has an abundance of articles on cloning and more.
* China Pushes Forward with Industrial Cloning
* More Cloning articles from “The Scientist”