In 1996 the now famous, Dolly the sheep (named after Dolly Parton) made cloning a household topic. If you’re unaware, Dolly was the first mammal to be fully cloned. With this frankly amazing scientific breakthrough came a wave of debates, mainly focusing around the ethical side of cloning. The topic strongly divided opinion with what appeared to be genuine arguments on both sides.
With that in mind, the Discover team thought it would be interesting to revisit the topic, specifically looking at the major question, is cloning moral?
What gives humans the right to dictate the production of new life?
One of the key benefits for cloning could be the development of animal stock which could produce food, milk, clothing and even organs which are fit for transplants into human bodies. On the face of it, this seems like a no-brainer, right? But looking a little deeper you’ll start to see and understand the issues around the well-being of the animals cloned. Is it right to raise these animals purely for our own benefit? It’s a massive sticking point for animal activists and animal lovers across the globe.
Whilst this might sound like a bad movie idea, the reality isn’t as far away as you might think. Currently cloning humans is something which hasn’t been achieved, or even attempted. You’ll be glad to hear it’s a tightly regulated area in the cloning sector. There are many, many issues up for debate, one of the biggest issues is… Cloning goes against many people’s religious beliefs, which is a debate in itself, so now mentioned, we’ll leave it there!
Another issue to consider is individuality. Every human is an individual as they learn and grow from their experiences. Now think about this for a second… how will this be passed on through cloning? Will the clone have the preconceptions and experiences of the individual whose genes were used to create the clone? Or will they start afresh as a new human would?
A huge benefit of human cloning would be the opportunity given to couples who aren’t able to reproduce. This is something which would change the lives of those who desperately want children, but for one reason or another are unable.
If the past is anything to go by, then unfortunately there’s a high failure rate when it comes to cloning. For example there was a shocking 276 failed attempts before success with Dolly the sheep. Is this an acceptable failure rate? Well… on the face of it, no, it’s certainly not. Can you imagine having 276 failed attempts at human cloning? Scary…
We’ve only really scratched the surface of this complete ethical minefield. However, it’s obvious to see that there are clearly benefits to both animal and human cloning, whether it’s ethical or not… well everyone is entitled to their own opinion!