Cloning raises numerous debates about whether it’s acceptable to clone animals and humans. Cloning cannot be considered as a technique to get an identical living being. It’s impossible to bring back the family pet or dead relatives. While this technology may allow us to cure various diseases, create organs for transplantation, and allow a childless couple to have children, we shouldn’t forget about the moral and ethical side of this issue.
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Is Human Cloning Acceptable?
Decades ago, human cloning existed either on the pages of science fiction literature or in the most ambitious scientific predictions. Today, it seems that only concerns of ethics separate scientific and technological progress from creating one human by using the genetic material of another person. While supporters of human cloning argue that this biotechnology will allow creating stronger, healthier, and smarter people, the opponents state that cloning is nothing but ‘playing God’ with numerous adverse consequences.
The History of Cloning
Cloning itself is not a new technology. Although scientists first cloned vertebrates, namely frogs, more than half a century ago, and more than 20 years have passed from the successful cloning of Dolly, human cloning has remained both technically and ethically impossible until now (Ayala 8884). However, debates about the acceptability of human cloning intensify each time biotechnology or genetic engineering makes a breakthrough. After the discovery of CRISPR gene editing technology, a series of experiments, aimed at treating genetic diseases, were performed by Chinese scientists; eventually, in 2018, He Jiankui proclaimed that he had edited the genes of twin infants to make them less vulnerable and possibly immune to severe diseases, such as AIDS (Normile 368). However, instead of admiring, the scientist faced general condemnation, being blamed for a serious violation of ethics.
Debates on Human Cloning
Consequently, this experiment refreshed debates regarding other genetic engineering technologies, including human cloning. It is worth mentioning that under the term “human cloning,” most people understand reproductive cloning, which provides for creating a human from a donor’s genetic material (Ayala 8883). The word “creating” is the very part of the definition which causes the discussion. First of all, opponents of human cloning argue that cloning is wrong since it violates laws of natural, sexual procreation (as cited in Sandel 242). In such a way, bio-engineers take on the role of God. However, such an argument ignores the fact that modern medicine has been already using surrogacy and in vitro fertilization, which also differ significantly from natural procreation, for decades. Secondly, many people believe that a cloned person will be an exact copy of the gene donor, so the clone will have exact thoughts, identity, and behavior. Such an argument lacks an understanding that all the mentioned features do not result from the individual’s genotype, but the phenotype formed by multiple factors like social environment, family, and education (Ayala 8884). That means that cloning is not creating exact copies of people, but their monozygotic twins.
Arguments Against Human Cloning
Nevertheless, there are more reasonable arguments against human cloning as well. Most notably, it is the rate of success. In the case with Dolly, it took scientists 270 trials to successfully clone the sheep; not to mention that the animal had to be euthanized six years later due to the numerous progressive diseases which appeared to be cloning complications (Ayala 8884). Such a low success rate is totally unacceptable for human cloning since it may result in various economic and emotional consequences, especially if the attempt fails close to term. It is worth considering that the most likely area of human cloning is ‘children designing,’ where the parents choose the traits for their future children (Sandel 242). Thus, it is reasonable to wait with the implementation of human cloning until a success rate near 100% is guaranteed.
Human cloning is a promising area in biotechnology that can be used alongside surrogacy and in vitro fertilization to create children which will possess superior traits and be immune to numerous serious diseases. Most of the arguments against it result from a lack of understanding of what actual cloning means. However, it is yet too early to implement human cloning since the current development of technology cannot provide an acceptable success rate for the survival of cloned human embryos.
Ayala, Francisco J. “Cloning Humans? Biological, Ethical, and Social Considerations.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol 112, no. 29, 2015, pp. 8879-8886. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doi:10.1073/pnas.1501798112. Accessed 12 Feb 2019.
Normile, Dennis. “Government Report Blasts Creator of CRISPR Twins.” Science, vol 363, no. 6425, 2019, pp. 328-328. American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), doi:10.1126/science.363.6425.328. Accessed 12 Feb 2019.
Sandel, Michael J. “The Ethical Implications of Human Cloning.” Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, vol 48, no. 2, 2005, pp. 241-247. Johns Hopkins University Press, doi:10.1353/pbm.2005.0063.