Term Paper: Cloning Our Group Is a Morally Committed

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Cloning

Our group is a morally committed organization that has had many successes in preventing various actions and activities when those activities raise moral objections. Among these would be our efforts to lobby for increased recognition of family rights so parents would have to be notified before an underage girl could get certain medical procedures, worked to prevent discrimination against people on the basis of religion in government actions, and work for tighter controls on abortions, though success in this last area has been difficult to achieve. More recently, we are committed to preventing human cloning and to protecting the integrity of human life by banning this dangerous procedure, which also challenges various moral prescriptions and takes the world down a wrong path. The cloning of animals has raised the possibility that some will want to clone human beings, and indeed some claim to have already done so, though with no proof offered at all. Passing laws against human cloning such as the U.S. has done is not enough, for other countries are still able to conduct this research if they choose, and some scientists have stated that they will go to a country that allows such research and do what they want. Our group intends to help create a moral atmosphere in which any such effort would be condemned as it should be so that all countries agree to ban human cloning as an immoral act.

The term "cloning" refers to three different processes with three different uses. Of the three, therapeutic cloning refers to the cloning of cells the removal of stem cells from the pre-embryo in order to produce tissue or a whole organ to be transplanted back into the person who supplied the DNA. The reason for this is: to produce a healthy copy of a sick person's tissues or organ for transplant, which "would be vastly superior to relying on organ transplants from other people" ("Embryo Cloning, Adult DNA Cloning and Therapeutic Cloning" para. 4). For one thing, the problem of rejection is overcome in this manner without the need for specialized drugs. The supply of tissue that could be cloned is virtually unlimited, and this would eliminate waiting lists for transplants.

Reproductive cloning is intended to produce a child, a duplicate of an existing animal, The process has been used to clone certain animals, such as sheep, and in the process, the DNA is removed from an ovum and replaced with the DNA from a cell taken from an adult animal. The fertilized embryo is called a pre-embryo, and it is implanted in a womb and develops into a new animal. This process has not yet been tried on human beings and is highly controversial, raising a number of legal and ethical issues as well as medical questions, none of which have been resolved. Some of the animals produced in this manner have been marked by genetic defects, so a human clone could be damaged as well. For this reason alone, many deem the procedure immoral ("Embryo Cloning, Adult DNA Cloning and Therapeutic Cloning" para. 3).

History of Cloning

Genetic Engineering

Genetic engineering involves several different ways of manipulating genetic material in plants and animals to produce different kinds of entity, and among the purposes are controlling for disease, altering characteristics, instilling completely new characteristics, and generally changing the strain of the plant or the animal. Cloning is just one form of Genetic Engineering. Such experiments can be dangerous, since it is never certain what effects the manipulation of genetic material may have and since any possible danger may not be evident for several generations as changes increase over time. Genetic engineering for food products may lead to damage in those who consume such foods, and given the long-term damage done by such substances as carcinogens, damage which may not be apparent for decades, the danger of adding to this problem through genetic engineering is simply too great.

Some genetic engineering has long taken place through the breeding of animals and plants for specific traits, but more recently it has been possible to make such changes at the genetic level and to produce new species virtually overnight and on a much wider basis, leading, for instance, to new crops with different characteristics from older crops of the same sort, such as higher yield, resistance to disease, the ability to repel insects, and so on. On the one hand, there have been concerns about making such changes, as if they might lead to new species that would destroy older crops, create new diseases, and so threaten the production of food or threaten human life more directly, a science fiction scenario that has not yet come to pass. Another concern, and one more difficult to refute, is these new foodstuffs may harm human life in the long run in ways not yet foreseen.

Wright cites a report by a National Research Council committee that "the most significant risk associated with animal biotechnology is the potential effect on the environment. In particular, the committee said that if engineered animals escaped into the wild, they could endanger native species" (Wright 4). No human risks were identified by this report, but it was noted that this might not prove there were none given that animal biotechnology is a new and changing field.

Another issue raised concerns genetically altered foods as noted by Charman, who points out that advocates of this type of research claim that this will lead to improved crops and that this is only a new way of doing what humans have been doing for thousands of years, though they fail to note that genetic engineering "gives humankind an unprecedented ability to create new life-forms by taking genes from one species and inserting them into another?

something long-time biotech critic Jeremy Rifkin characterizes as 'a laboratory-conceived second Genesis'" (Charman 74). Charman also notes that the goals of controlling disease and producing more and more nutritious food are good goals, but whether they will be met remains uncertain, for it is also possible that this biotechnology will instead "unleash greater problems than those generated by the polluting technologies it is purported to replace" (Charman 75).

The potential has been raised for using genetic engineering to shape future human generations, and this raises troubling issues of ethics and social control, as Resnik notes, after first pointing out the nature of both sides of the issue, and he finds that what is likely to happen is that such control over human genetics will lead to efforts to allow parents to select traits for their children, "and the long-term results of parental control over human genetics may further exacerbate existing social and economic inequalities and create a genetic caste system" (Resnik 428). Jeremy Rifkin notes how far some geneticists seem willing to go in shaping human life in spite of the potential problems that this could create (Rifkin 648).

Thus the matter goes beyond simply altering a life form and extends to altering life itself, determining why people are born as they are and then changing the equation to produce humans who are somehow more acceptable, and determining even mood and modes of thinking by altering genetic makeup. The dangers inherent in this sort of program are even greater and more apparent than those involved in reshaping food or animal life. Genetic engineering needs to be reexamined and rethought before these dangers become real.

From Plants to Animals

The word "clone" is derived from the Greek "klon," meaning twig or slip. Clone refers to asexual reproduction, or vegetative reproduction. The cloning of plants is an established practice because of the ease with which plants are propagated or cloned from a twig or a slip:

The edible part of the potato is an expanded stem known as a tuber, which, like other stems, has a number of buds or eyes. When placed in soil, each bud is capable of yielding an entire plant, and the crop so produced is a clone (McKinnell 6).

The essential fact of sex in both plants and animals, that hereditary material from two individuals is joined to form a new creature. The sex cells provide diversity so that each offspring produced is unique in its combination of traits. Cloning does not involve sexual reproduction, and so the cloned plant is not the result of a union of different material. The plant produced by cloning is a manifestation of the capacity for new growth of the old plant body, so the new plant is usually genetically identical to the old plant. Cloning is used in agriculture to produce high-quality, uniform products (McKinnell 6-7).

Cloning of animals is less common, but there is a procedure well established for permitting asexual reproduction in amphibians such as toads, frogs, and salamanders. This procedure is known as nuclear transplantation and is widely referred to as cloning. Frogs were the first multicellular animals cloned because they have an abundant supply of eggs and sperm that experimenters can use. The fertilization and embryonic development… [END OF PREVIEW]

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