Cloning- Is It Ethical Genetic Engineering; Cloning In today world of advanced technology and even faster progress of this technology one has to stop and examine what we have accomplished. How far do we want to go with this technology of genetic engineering, particularly in the field of cloning. Examining genetic engineering and its many possibilities holds great hope for the future. Centrally the issue of cloning has been a hot topic in the media mainly because its has become a technological as well as a medical breakthrough. The possibilities of cloning are innumerable that is, if it works.
But the other side of the coin are the ethics of the process. What happens when we master cloning of body parts and venture out to clone humans? Will this clone be someone who has feelings, and mind and a spirit of its own? Will it have a soul? Genetic Engineering, the alteration of an organism’s genetic, or hereditary, material to eliminate undesirable characteristics or to produce desirable new ones(Brennan, 57) . Genetic engineering is used to increase plant and animal food production; to diagnose disease, improve medical treatment, and produce vaccines and other useful drugs.(Brennan, 58). Included in genetic engineering techniques are the selective breeding of plants and animals, and recombinant DNA. The first genetic engineering technique, still used today, was the selective breeding of plants and animals, usually for increased food production. In selective breeding, only those plants or animals with good characteristics are chosen for further breeding.
Corn has been selectively bred for increased kernel size and number and for nutritional content. More recently, selective breeding of wheat and rice in an effort called the green revolution has helped supply the world’s ever-increasing need for food(Clarke, 1211). This is also another aspect of technology that has improved over the years. Production has proved that we can grow more with less land mass. Cattle and pigs were first domesticated about 8000 years ago and through selective breeding have become main sources of meat for humans.
Dogs and horses have also been selectively bred for thousands of years for recreational purposes. Over the past 20 years, genetic engineering has been revolutionized by a new technique known as recombinant DNA, or gene splicing, with which scientists can directly alter genetic material (Encarta, 03). Genes consist of the chemical deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). In recombinant DNA, the DNA of one organism is joined to the DNA of a second organism to produce a recombinant DNA. When this recombinant DNA is spliced with another organism, it permanently changes the genetic makeup of that organism.
Recombinant DNA techniques have transformed genetic engineering in plant and animal food production and medicine. In most cases, DNA cannot be transferred directly from its original organism, known as the donor, to the recipient organism, known as the host (Brennan ??). Instead, the donor DNA must be cut and recombined with a matching fragment of DNA from an organism that can carry the donor DNA into the host. In 1982 the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved for the first time the medical use of a recombinant DNA protein, the hormone insulin, which had been cloned in large quantities(Encarta, 05). Previously, this hormone, used by diabetics had been available only in limited quantities from hogs.
Since that time, the FDA has approved other genetically engineered proteins for use in humans. Scientists also have employed recombinant DNA techniques to produce medically useful human proteins in animal milk(Clarke, 1211). In this procedure, the human gene responsible for the desired protein is first linked to specific genes of the animal that are active only in its milk-producing glands(Clarke, 1211). The egg of the animal is then injected with the linked genes. The resulting babies will have these linked genes in every cell of their body but will produce the human protein only in their milk. The human protein is finally extracted from the animal’s milk for use as medicine.
In this way, sheep’s milk is used to produce an enzyme used in the treatment of emphysema; cow’s milk is used to produce a protein that combats bacterial infections; and goat’s milk is used as yet another way to produce blood-clot-dissolving enzyme also cloned in hamster cell cultures(Encarta, 04). Now that genetic engineering has been fully reviewed, the issue of cloning will be introduced and examined. The definition of a clone, an organism, or group of organisms, derived from another organism by an asexual reproductive process(Church of Scotland, 02). Usually the members of a clone are identical in their inherited characteristicsthat is, in their genes except for any differences caused by mutation(Encarta, 06). Identical twins, for example, who originate from the division of a single fertilized egg, are members of a clone; whereas non-identical twins, derived from two separate fertilized eggs, are not clones. Through the recent advances in genetic engineering, scientists can isolate the individual gene (or group of genes) from one organism and grow it in another organism belonging to a different species(Clarke, 1211).
Thus it is able to produce a clone of organisms, or cells, that all contain the same foreign gene or genes. This technique is called cloning because it uses clones of organisms or cells. For obvious reasons it has great economic and medical potential and is the subject of immense research. Identical-twin animals (or humans) may be produced by cloning as well. An embryo in the early stage of development is removed from the uterus and split, then each separate part is placed in a surrogate uterus. Mammals such as mice and sheep have been produced by this method, which is generally called embryo splitting.
Another development has been the discovery that a whole nucleus, containing an entire set of chromosomes, can be taken from a cell and injected into a fertilized egg whose own nucleus has been removed(Encarta, 06). This cloning technique is in theory capable of producing large numbers of genetically identical individuals. Experiments using this technique have been successfully accomplished with frogs and mice. Progress in cloning higher mammals beyond an early embryonic stage presents a much more formidable challenge. Genes in cells at the earliest stages of embryonic life carry the encoded knowledge that enables cells to develop into any part of the body (Bereano, 754).
But skeptics theorized that once cells form into specific body insides, they thereafter lose the capability to reconstruct the entire organism from the genetic contents of the nucleus. However, in July 1996, a team of Scottish scientists produced the first live birth of a healthy sheep cloned from an adult mammal. The team scraped skin cells from the udder of a donor sheep (sheep A) and these cells were temporarily starved of nutrients to stop cell development. An unfertilized egg was removed from a second sheep (sheep B) and its nucleus was removed to eliminate genetic characteristics of the donor egg. A skin cell from sheep A (containing a nucleus with genetic material) was fused with …