Cloning is the process of creating a copy of a single cell or an entire living organism. Each clone bears the same sets of genetic material in the nucleus of every cell. An individual produced from such process is known as a clone of the original organism.
Naturally, the term is used for identical or monozygotic twins as they are natural clones of each other. Cloning, as a sudden scientific concept, has shown itself to the general public as a technique that can be done with ease and relative success, since it accomplished the cloning of the Dolly, the sheep in 1997.
The success of cloning in rhesus macaque monkeys almost twenty years ago (1999) also provided essential support to the hypothesis that humans can be possibly cloned. However, cloning techniques have been around for a longer period than that. In fact, cloning occurs all the time naturally-some even speculate that it started ever since life arose on Earth.
With the fast-changing environment and the so much development in scientific research and medicine, cloning seems to occur widely shortly. However, is it a possible option to help revive the population of species or just another ambitious attempt to achieve immortality?
In this page, we will explore more about its pros and cons, and decide whether this scientific endeavor is worth the risks.
Table of Contents
- Pros of Cloning
- Cons of Cloning
Pros of Cloning
Since the first successful execution of the process in 1996, cloning has become a useful technique in the field of biotechnology. Through cloning, transgenic (organisms having genes of interest inserted in their genome) plants and animals are used to make clones from adults. The following are some of the pros of cloning.
1. It can help prevent the extinction of species
As many organisms in the planet approach endangerment and extinction, cloning appears to be a possible solution to restore populations. By utilizing the genetic material of already dead organisms, cloning can even contribute to expanding the diversity of gene pools.
- Aside from that, the cloning of extinct animals and their successful revival will also allow scientists to fully study the species as living organisms, instead of just studying their remains.
- Despite being considered as an artificial mode of reproduction, cloning is in fact very common in a natural setting. The oldest form of cloning, asexual reproduction, is exhibited by various organisms like insects, and microorganisms.
2. It can help increase food production
Another major advantage of cloning is that it can serve as a means to increase agricultural production, particularly livestock and fresh produce. By manipulating their biological processes, existing traits of interest are ensured with the absence of the genetic “lottery” and random arrangements in the genes during meiosis.
- During cloning, the gene of interest, as well as the organism bearing that gene of interest, is replicated faster than those undergoing the natural process.
- Because of this, the number of organisms produced at a given time also increases.
3. It can help couples who want to have children
Last but not the least is the use of cloning as a means to produce children for infertile and same-sex couples. Normally, couples would want to have children that are biologically theirs. Interestingly, the genetic manipulations to be done could now be targeted at giving the children the genetic traits of both of their parents.
- Children can now be produced even without donor eggs or donor sperms. Same-sex couples would only need a “surrogate” parent to carry the clone until its birth.
- Scientists who support this method believe that it would become justifiable for these couples to reproduce in this method, assuming the procedures could be done safely.
Cons of Cloning
Although the process of cloning promises considerable advantages for research and industries, the endpoint is not always certain because of high risks of losses and morbidity of organisms during their development. Aside from that, the mere process of cloning remains to be elucidated. The following are some of its most common cons.
1. The process is not entirely safe and accurate
Despite being genetically identical with each other, clones will not be the same regarding behavioral attributes. Aside from that, their similarities regarding physical appearance are not guaranteed.
- It should be important to note that the genetic material is not the sole determinant of these characteristics.
- Of course, chances that a pair of clones will be subjected to different habitats and have varying nutritional loads are very high, thus imprinting different changes and contributions to each one.
- Aside from that, most of the clones produced have had reduced longevity and developed health problems. For instance, Dolly the sheep had abnormalities in her DNA (i.e. , shortened telomeres), suggesting that some of her own cells bear the “age” of the source organisms.
2. It is regarded as unethical, and the probability of abuse is very high
One of the strongest arguments against cloning is about its ethical concerns. Aside from the idea of manipulating living organisms, critics say that the mere process of clone production requires the exploitation of life.
- In the case of Dolly the sheep, more than 277 attempts were conducted before a viable clone was produced. This only suggests that if humans were to be cloned, scientists need to conduct numerous “failed” attempts.
- With that, critics highly believe that it would be unethical to clone humans unless these problems become known and be resolved at a level of certainty.
3. The offspring lack genetic uniqueness
Majority of the concerns against cloning are based on the absence of unique nuclear DNA in the child’s genome. However, as mentioned above, the notion that cloning would only result in the absence of genetic uniqueness would no longer be justifiable, assuming that the procedures are conducted safely.
- Again, the process of cloning still needs further studies.
4. It is not yet fully-developed
To date, many scientists will agree that the process of cloning is not yet fully developed to be used as a way to promote the conservation of species. In fact, some researchers do not even acknowledge cloning as it fails to recognize the main drivers of extinction in the first place: the destruction of habitats and hunting.
- Critics also argue that even if cloning could help in desperate times, present techniques to execute these goals are deemed to be ineffective to make a difference.
- As compared with cloning domestic organisms (e.g. , cattle), the process of cloning endangered species is considered to be more difficult and would probably take years (and even decades) to complete.
- While there are many reasons why countless attempts to revive endangered and extinct species have failed, they all exhibited one major trouble : they were not exact copies of their supposed-to-be counterparts.
Overall, the developments of scientific research seem to go faster than the actual and real needs of humans, who are the ultimate recipients of such progress. Because of that, there is a pressing need to determine whether such practical applications are timely or are indeed necessary for human survival.
To date, many people still believe that the process of cloning itself is not ethical. In fact, many countries have prohibited all research and actual cloning processes, making it. Nevertheless, the process of cloning is still up for further studies.
- “BBC – GCSE Bitesize: Advantages and disadvantages of cloning”. Accessed January 31, 2018. Link.
- “Cloning: Definitions And Applications – Scientific and Medical Aspects of Human Reproductive Cloning – NCBI Bookshelf”. Accessed January 31, 2018. Link.
- “Human Cloning Ethics: The Pros and Cons | EnergyFanatics.com”. Accessed January 31, 2018. Link.
- “Will Cloning Ever Save Endangered Animals? – Scientific American”. Accessed January 31, 2018. Link.