Bio Cloning

  • Category: Science
  • Words: 1016
  • Grade: 83

I n March 2001, three scientists gathered in Rome to say they're going ahead with human cloning, no matter what anyone says. Their intentions seem good "“ they want to help infertile couples have children. "Some people say we are going to clone the world, but this isn't true," Italian Severino Antinori, one of the doctors, said at a news conference. "We're talking science, we're not here to create a fuss."
The team plans to combine cells (from either the man or the woman) with one of the woman's eggs, which has been stripped of its genetic material. When the cells form an embryo, the scientists would implant the embryo in the woman's uterus. The embryo would then take its "natural" course and develop into a fetus and then a
T he idea that we may one day clone a human being has been a part of science fiction and scientific debate for generations. However, it wasn't until 1997, when a team in Scotland announced it had cloned the first adult mammal, the now-famous Dolly the sheep, that the world really changed the way it thought about human cloning. Those who were previously asking whether it could be done were now asking when it would be done.
But there's still the question of whether it should be done. And the ethical issues that surround human cloning can be as complicated as the science itself. On the one side, there are religious groups and other organizations that say human cloning is wrong. Period. Some are against cloning for the same reason they're against abortion and euthenasia "“ because all human life is valuable and destroying embryos is equal to murder. (Some scientists want to use embryos in medical research because they contain what are called "stem cells." Stem cells are cells that haven't matured to perform specialized functions, which means they still can be programmed to do anything, perfect for cloning.)
There are also those anti-cloning advocates who say we shouldn't allow human cloning because it infringes on one of the things we value most, our individuality. There are social implications, too. What if someone cloned Albert Einstein or Joan of Arc or even someone they knew, like their dead child or parent? What kind of life would that person have trying to live up to the expectation that they will become as accomplished or do the same things as their genetic counterpart? And then there are those who say allowing cloning would make way for the Frankenstein-like eugenics projects or the vast armies of genetically engineered soldiers that you see in the movies or read about in comic books.
This is not to say these arguments should be taken lightly. In fact, the international community has taken human cloning very seriously. Of those countries that have adopted laws to deal with reproductive technologies, the majority "“ France, Germany and Australia for example "“ have chosen to outlaw human cloning altogether to avoid such disasters. The United States was one of the first to react to the Dolly announcement with President Bill Clinton banning the use of federal funds for human cloning research. The U.S. still has no national law to prevent private companies from doing such work, though it is illegal in some states. Canada has no cloning laws either.
Cloning laws would fall under the same act that would cover other reproductive technologies, such as in vitro fertilization, sperm donation and genetic manipulation. In 1989, the federal government created a Royal Commission to look at new reproductive technologies, which resulted in the government placing a voluntary moratorium on human embryo cloning. But so far, attempts to pass an anti-cloning law have failed. That's partly because of who makes up the other side the argument: the scientists who say we shouldn't be so quick to dismiss the benefits of human cloning.
Human cloning doesn't necessarily mean duplicating entire people. It also includes cloning parts of humans, cells, for example, that would no doubt be a great boost to medical science. People with severe burns could grow back their own skin. People who need a new organ could get one that's guaranteed to be genetically compatible. And what about growing entire new limbs to replace those that have been severed in an accident? The potential for human cloning is so great, scientists say it would be premature to stop research now, especially seeing as the world is just beginning to understand the possible applications of the technology. This is why Britain, which had earlier passed a law banning human cloning, announced in January 2001 that it would now allow scientists to clone human embryos for medical research. The embryos must be destroyed by the time they are 14 days old, before the cells begin to change and form specific parts of the body.
N o matter what governments do to prevent human cloning, and no matter what position you take on the issue, it's hard to ignore the reality that there are already people out there trying to be the first to clone a human being. One group working in the field is the Bahamas-based Clonaid, the self-proclaimed "first human cloning company," that says it has both the technological and financial resources to clone a human being, and is already going ahead with trials. The work is being done under a veil of secrecy. Clonaid hasn't released the name of the couple who want to clone their child "“ who died when she was 10 months old "“ and it also won't say where the cloning will be done other than that it will be in a U.S. state where cloning is still legal. The group wants to avoid demonstrations or possible violence by anti-cloning groups. When Clonaid announced its intentions in October 2000, Dr. Brigitte Boisselier, a representative of the group, said they expected to have the first cloned baby within 18 months, which would be some time in the spring of 2002.

In December 1998, scientists at the Infertility Clinic at Kyeonghee University in South Korea announced they had cloned the world's first human embryo.

ad 4
Copyright 2011 All Rights Reserved