Cloning: A misunderstood and Underestimated Science

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Cloning: A misunderstood and Underestimated Science By: Evan Banks On February 23rd of 1997, an announcement was made that would shake the world and, inevitably, change it forever. Ian Wilmut, an embryologist with a genetic research facility named the Roslin Institute in Scotland, claimed that he and a group of scientists had successfully cloned a sheep. The sheep, named Dolly, was revolutionary in the Bioengineering world because it was the first mammal to be cloned directly from the genetic material of another sheep and was, in essence, an exact replica of its “mother.” Soon after, groups sprung up from all over the world claiming that, they too, had created clones. A group in Oregon declared that they had cloned monkeys while a Japanese research team professed to have created perfect clones of mice. What followed was a worldwide outcry for the world governments to regulate cloning before it bulged out of control. President Clinton rushed to stop government funding of human cloning research and urged independently financed researchers to stop cloning research until his National Bioethics Advisory Commission, which was founded the previous year, issued their report on the “ethical implications”(Bailey 1) of human cloning. The Committee issued the following statement in May of that year: The [National Bioethics Advisory] Commission concludes that at this time it is morally unacceptable for anyone in the public or private sector, whether in a research or clinical setting, to attempt to create a child using somatic cell nuclear transfer cloning. The Commission reached a consensus on this point because current scientific information indicates that this technique is not safe to use in humans at this point. Indeed, the Commission believes it would violate important ethical obligations were clinicians or researchers to attempt to create a child using these particular technologies, which are likely to involve unacceptable risks to the fetus and/or potential child. Moreover, in addition to safety concerns, many other serious ethical concerns have been identified, which require much more widespread and careful public deliberation before this technology may be used. The report was testament to the fact of America’s fear of an unknown and mysterious technology. While cloning’s role in United States law has still not been determined, the government has allowed research into it. Cloning is most definitely a something that needs to be researched further. From increased agricultural production to saving a human life to increasing a standard of living, the possible benefits of what cloning can do for the Human race are limitless. For years, the agriculture industry’s main purpose has been to feed the world. Now, through cloning, its purpose may change to benefit society in more ways than one. In 1994, a bovine growth hormone known as BST (bovine somatotropin) became available to farmers. The hormone, which is made naturally in the bodies of cattle, was synthetically manufactured in order to boost growth in calves and increase the milk yield of mature dairy cows by 20 percent. (Grace 100). Although feared by many consumers, the genetically engineered hormone was approved and advocated by FDA commissioner David Kessler, who stated, “[BST] has been one of the most extensively studied animal drugs products to be reviewed by the agency. The public can be confident that milk and meat from BST-treated cows is safe to consumers” (Grace 101). The benefits of genetic engineering on animals are not limited simply to hormonal boosts. Eventually, farmers will be able to breed livestock to have certain desirable traits such as disease resistance, lean bodies and increased milk production. This will, in turn, “reduce the costs of vaccination, hormones, and drugs,” (Torr 25) says David A. Christopher, an associate professor in the Department of Plant Molecular Physiology and Molecular Biosystems Engineering at the University of Hawaii. Cloning could also be applied to eliminate certain undesirable
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traits such as the “mad cow” disease that ravaged Britain’s livestock a few years back (Harley 3). One large and very important aspect of cloning is its potential to bring endangered animals species back into prominence on earth. The most recent experiment with endangered species had to do with an animal called a gaur. The gaur, a wild boar that is usually found in India and Southeast China, is feared to be nearing extinction because only 36,000 are known to exist in the wild (Lanza 1). Cells taken from the dead body of another gaur were put into the uterus ...

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