CLONING

Darshil Shah
Cloning is the process of making a genetically identical organism through nonsexual means. It has been used for many years to produce plants (even growing a plant from a cutting is a type of cloning). Animal cloning has been the subject of scientific experiments for years, but gathered little attention until the birth of the first cloned mammal in 1997. Cloning has been evident for thousands of years in horticulture (cloning plants). Bananas, apples, grapes, nearly every vegetable we eat have been cloned/originated from pure parents and slowly have been deteriorating. This is done by getting a branch of the plant/tree and planting it again. The branch is an exact gene replica of the parent and when planted it will produce exactly like the parent. Slowly over time, the genetic material degrades so the exact genes have been lost forever due to the environmental factors. Also, because of genetic modifications, the genus has spread and threatened the natural plant community. However, if cloning wasn’t present or wasn’t allowed, the population of the plants would be greatly reduced and the prices would go up. Genetic plant cloning and modification has helped millions of people to buy food and eat it wherever and whatever condition they are in. Trees have also been cloned to create industrial trees which are used for wood rather than the original trees which would endanger wildlife. Without cloning of plants and trees, it seems quite impossible to live without the use of these plants and trees due to the already shortage of vegetation. Along these years, horticulture has ensured that plants and trees live on and never go into extinction. But, with these, along the thousands of years have produced weeds which lurk around in soil and live off the soil without providing any benefits. The idea of cloning was never too popular; because everyone thought that it was limited and even if it was able to be more complex, the natural process would break down. Animals were never expected to be cloned. It was thought it was against nature and the natural process would not allow it to take place. However, in 1952, the first tadpoles with the exact genetic material were cloned. This raised no publicity and no interest at all in the scientific as it could not be proved if they had actually done it. It was not after another 30-40 years that it raised public and scientific interest. “Dolly” was the first sheep to be cloned and still today remains a great achievement in science and biology. The possibility of animal cloning raised issues but also gave some farmers and producers to think. The farmers could now choose the best animal from the farm and clone it so the exact results will be achieved. However, the large public protest and disbelief of many scientists halted that thought. After Dolly the Sheep, a countless number of animals were cloned, which include horses, cats, dogs, monkeys, mules, and cattle. Sadly, there were problems far beyond the ethical issues the public raised. There was a tremendous effect on health and the success rate of fertilising the egg. Dolly the sheep was born after 277 eggs and the more complex an animal, the more attempts it would take to fertilize the egg. This raised serious issues. There were ethical issues too. For example, if we have any right to give and take life of an individual animal and if the cloned animal was actually a living thing. This was a dangerous subject both scientifically and ethically as it was unpredictable and no one had previously dealt with cloning. Due to this, there had to be complications, but the biologists hoped they would eventually learn to clone without complication. Dolly the sheep died at the age of 8 due to cancer and some serious complications. This proved that cloning was not meant to be. However, Dolly had lived a relatively good life and had also produced a lamb. The offspring lived normally and there didn’t seem to be any complications.

Many animals were cloned successfully, and all over the world, everyone thought what the possibilities are for humans. Many movies and books have portrayed their ideas on human cloning, but that was least of the controversy caused. This wasn’t just caused by the protests and conspiracies, but because of the actual possibility that humans can be cloned. Governments all over the world passed laws to stop this havoc, and since then, cloning has been illegal everywhere. Scientist and people are fighting to get the right to clone. Even though there are issues, the cloning of humans can help other humans and potentially, wipe out death (which can be seen in two ways). There are endless numbers of problems associated with this idea, but there are some advantages. Along the years, scientists have discovered stem cells, which can reproduce an organ anywhere and anytime. But this involves “disturbing” the human embryo in order to research about this new technology. This is the only good way people can look at. As the proportion is way too uneven on whom supports cloning and who doesn’t. Cloning has been used for thousands of years; it has been accepted due to the natural occurring phenomena in plants. As soon as humans started experimenting with the possibility of cloning things bigger than plants, there has since been protests and strong disagreements to the idea. Animal cloning went through, and the issues were still there, but they didn’t have any thing to lose apart from a life. After many attempts, a sheep was cloned, which captured the world and stirred the atmosphere on cloning. More and more animals were cloned, which always got more complex and hard to reproduce. Some of the publics saw the danger in this, ethically and religiously. Although, some saw it as a triumph and only wondered what other living things can be cloned. Soon after the successful animal clones, (which weren’t that successful due to health problems) everyone was captured by the idea of human cloning portrayed in books and movies. This might have been an interesting way to look at something new, but too many people saw this as a violation in nature and it was banned in all countries around the world. Soon after, people realised that human cloning would never be a possibility due to the numerous complications. But apart from this, there were advantages which people didn’t take into play. Not soon after, stem cells were discovered, and something more subtle to cloning was raised. Stem cells could clone organs and other bodily systems just with a few cells which involved using the embryo. There was less controversy about this as you aren’t actually killing or violating a living thing. It is still under development, but as soon as it is considered stable, it can possibly wipe out most diseases. As we have seen, Cloning is a wonderful leap in science and mankind, but there are too many issues associated with the cloning of complex beings which indicates it may never be actually done. But, one thing is for sure, Cloning might not have any more potential, but stem cells and molecular cloning might prove to be something we all someday might rely on. Cloning might come back, but for now, it doesn’t seem it ever will.