Cloning of Dolly the Sheep was a first on many fronts. First, it represented the first mammal ever to be cloned from a somatic cell. It also set a benchmark on which to evaluate other animal cloning experiments going forward. Secondly, her cloning was the start of controversy and panic in regards to animal cloning, as it raised the question of whether scientists would seek to clone humans too, and the ethics behind such a practice, should it ever be adopted. Over the past few years, animal cloning has yielded remarkable results, and this has given scientists hope of a possible human clone over the next few years (University of Utah Health Sciences n.p.). When such reports of cloning success appear in the media, only few attempts works. However, for every success story, there are many other cloning experiments that have dismally failed. Out of 100 cloning experiments, less than three, at the maximum, yield viable offsprings (Harper n.p.). Even for these few success stories of cloning, problems often emerge later, as the animal develops towards adulthood. Although there is limited scientific explanations to the cause of such high failure rates, most researchers believe that it is an indication of the technical hurdles facing cloning experiments. The important lesson that can be drawn from the cloning of animals is the likely ramifications in case humans are cloned.
- Cloning is Dangerous
Cloning should not be legalized, as there are many dangers that are associated with the practice. As was demonstrated by Dolly the Sheep, there are many serious health effects and dangerous flaws linked to cloning. About 98% of animal cloning experiments have failed. This is indicative of a high failure rate (Onion n.p.). Even for the few animal cloning experiments that have been successful, they tend to appear grossly enlarged and abnormal. Professor Ian Wilmut, the team leader of the group of scientists who cloned Dolly the Sheep, opines that cloned animals tend to be physically or genetically abnormal, although they could look healthy. For majority of the people, cloning of Dolly the Sheep symbolized the first dangerous and undesirable step to the use of reproductive cloning in the human population. At the time, only a few viewed cloning as a morally obligatory or permissible practice to undertake further research into the possibility of embracing human cloning (University of Utah Health Sciences n.p.). While some did not have any strong objections against such a move, they saw no reason to support it.
Cases of premature ageing, organ deformity, damaged immune systems, and massive obesity have also abounded where animal cloning is concerned. Cloned fetuses are also characterized by a high abortion rate. The fact that animal cloning has been around for less than 50 years also means that it is poorly understood, even among the leading scientists in the field of genetics. Cloning should not be legalized on account of the dangers associated with this process, in the form of medical problems and mutations of cloned animals. Considering that cloning has existed for less than half a decade, and that most results of cloning have been negative, and hence unreliable, these are not strong points to warrant legalizing human cloning. More importantly, human cloning was to be legalized, and yet the animal cloning model on which it would be based on has yielded a 98% failure rate, we would be in effect endangering the cloned human population because only about 2% of them would survive. Even then, this small part of the surviving cloned humans would have to endure massive health issues, as was evidenced by Dolly the Sheep.
If cloning in animals has revealed such dangers and risks, would not this be extended to the human race if we were to embrace it? There is no point in adopting a practice that poses so many health flaws and hence pose unexplained dangers to the cloned humans?
III. Cloning is Costly
According to Sateesh, “reproductive cloning is expensive and highly inefficient. More than 90% of cloning attempts fail to produce viable offspring. More than 100 nuclear transfer procedures could be required to produce one viable clone” (600). What this seems to indicate is that there are too many attempts involved in the process of cloning and this further increases the already dear cost of cloning. In addition, it also indicates the high failure rate that characterizes this process. Cloning consumes a lot of our money and time, valuable resources that could be better set aside to deal with more important matter like fighting global hunger, funding schools, and deal with the ongoing fighting in the Middle East. This coupled with the high level of inefficiency that characterize cloning, means that if it were to be legalized, the ensuing economic effects would be prohibitive in case majority of the wealthy families opted to develop their individual clones. Elsewhere, an article authored by the National Center for Policy Analysis indicates that “based on experiences with other reproductive technologies, some experts have predicted the cost of a human clone might be around $250,000” (n.p.).
To create a cloned embryo, human eggs are required. For example, an egg donor is paid between $ 3000 and $ 5000 by In vitro fertilization clinics. In other words, if 100 eggs were required for human therapeutic cloning, this would translate into $ 50,000 (Harper n.p.). Procuring the eggs also adds to other medical costs. Therefore, if it costs $ 1,000 to procure one human egg, this would translate into $ 100,000 in the case of 100 eggs. This cost is only for the treatment of a single patient.
Based on the above facts, human cloning is a very expensive experiment, both in terms of procuring the eggs, and what has to be paid directly to the egg donor. While there are wealthy persons who would be able to meet the cost of cloning, this should however not be grounds for legalizing it because it would give the rich an undue advantage over poor families (University of Utah Health Sciences n.p.). More importantly, there is need to attend to other urgent matter that faces a nation, and that need urgent financial resources.
If a single clone could cost so much, how much more would we expect to pay if mass human cloning was to be adopted? It is also important to determine whether so much money needs to be set aside for only a single area of the medical field, at the expense of other more pressing health care needs.
Many of the advocates of cloning claim that cloning should be legalized on grounds that it cures diseases. Specifically, producing cloned babies has been heralded as holding a lot of potential, especially when certain circumstances are taken into consideration, like when it helps to prevent genetic diseases (Wilmut 16). Moreover, embryonic stem cells research appears to hold the key to the future of human cloning. While extracting blood or nerve cells, in embryonic stem cells, one of the drawbacks that researchers tend to encounter is the control for their genetic make-up, especially where such cells have been involved in the tissue regenerations of cells that have been destroyed by disease or accident. In case such cells fail to genetically match the patient, an immune response could be triggered. In this case, cloning aids in tissue-match stem cells.
Human claiming holds a bright promise in finding a cure for diseases, especially those transmitted genetically. It also provides a remedy for obtaining tissue-match stem cells, thus reducing chances of immune response trigger due to tissue mismatch.
While a growing number of scientists support cloning based on the health benefits associated with it, on the other hand, considering the dangers and risks associated with this practice, not to mention that it is both unethical and expensive, it should not be legalized.
- We should not legalize cloning
From an ethical point of view, cloning should not be legalized. By embracing cloning, this would effectively erode our sense of identity and self as human beings. This means that the uniqueness or individuality of the human as we know it would cease because now there would be a carbon copy of you somewhere as well. In addition, cloning would jeopardize the worth or value of human beings. For example, considering that human eggs for use in cloning, by legalizing human cloning, we would in effect be placing a price on the life of a human being, which goes against the moral and religious values of humankind. Legalizing cloning would mean that our moral worth would be less, or that we can be replaced. Finally, the autonomy or freedom of a clone to construct her or his own life could be eroded by the “presence of an earlier twin” (Brock 315).
Based on ethical grounds, human cloning should not be legalized because it is immoral, demeaning, and threatens human identity and uniqueness.
While human cloning appears to have gathered a lot of support among scientists in recent years, it should however not be legalized as it is a dangerous practice. Cloning is dangerous because it is associated with heath effects and dangerous flaws. This is because the few successful animals that have been cloned in the past have been riddled by dangerous flaws and health effects. In addition, cloning is very expensive, both in terms of purchasing the eggs from donors, and other additional costs associated with the procurement process. Legalizing cloning would also give wealth individuals an undue advantage over the poor who cannot afford the exorbitant cost of this procedure. From an ethical point of view, cloning erodes human value and dignity by placing a price to it, and interfering with its uniqueness. Therefore, not only would human cloning threaten our individualism as human beings, but also remove the sanctity attached to human life. As Such, human cloning should not be encouraged in the society
Brock, Dan. “Human cloning and the sense of self.” Science, 296. 5566(2002): 314-316.
Harper, Mathew. Cloning’s High Cost. 26 November 2001. Web. 04 May 2015.
National Center for Policy Analysis. Cloning and its social and economic impacts. March 01,
- Web. 04 May 2015. http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/index.php
Onion, Amanda. Study: Clones Have Hidden, Dangerous Flaws. July 5, 2014. Web. 04 May
Sateesh, Madhu. Bioethics and Biosafety. New Delhi: I. K. International, 2010. Print.
University of Utah Health Sciences. What are the dangers of human cloning? 2015. Web. 04
May 2015. http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/cloning/cloningrisks/
Wilmut, Ian. “The Moral Imperative for Human Cloning.” New Scientist, (2004): 16-17.