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Animal Cloning Benefits and Controversies Essay


Introduction

Animal cloning is the generation of one or more animals from body cells of another animal without involving sexual aspects of reproduction (Fairbanks 27).

The members of each clone have similar genetic patterns to the donor cell from which they are derived. Since the cloning of the first animal, animal cloning has emerged as an important topic in the society and it forms a major discourse in ethical and moral discussions. Studies into animal cloning have diversified and have been extended into various fields, with major breakthroughs being reported in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical and agricultural fields (Fairbanks 33).

Through cloning, transgenic animals have been created that have the potential to produce novel human therapeutic molecules, thus helping in treating some diseases that previously were incurable (McLaren 1775). Animal cloning promises to revolutionize food production, with the potential of producing cattle, sheep, pigs, and other animals with superior quality and more resistant to diseases. This is bound to increase food availability (Polejaeva et al. 87).

Animal cloning proponents are of the opinion that cloning of animals will see an increase in food production globally. Moreover, the quality of food produced will increase and novel cures for diseases will result from pursuance of animal cloning. This is meant to prolong human life. Further, animal cloning is considered as significant in enhancing the comprehension of human beings and nature; therefore, it is crucial to the advancement of scientific goals (Hare 271).

In spite of the potential benefits, cloning of animals raises issues that are wide in scope, extending beyond the question of food safety to include ethical and moral qualms (Deane-Drummond 25). This essay seeks to explore the benefits and controversies of animal cloning. The essay will also emphasize on my position that animal cloning should not be allowed due to the fact that it is not natural. Furthermore, it goes against all of my religious beliefs.

No matter what the benefits are, cloning animals will only lead to further experimentation and probably lead to cloning humans someday. I will also propose a new piece of legislation making it mandatory to label all products that come from cloned animals, such as meat and dairy. Furthermore the legislation should dictate rules and regulations for quality control and testing of cloned animal products.

Cloning Technology

The process of cloning involves isolation of a single body cell from a donor organism, and then transferring its nucleus into an unfertilized egg that does not have a nucleus using a special needle.

The “nucleus of the body cell substitutes for the normal combination of egg and spermatozoon, thus allowing the egg cytoplasm containing the transplanted nucleus to develop into the same kind of organism as that from which the donor nucleus was obtained” (Hare 271). Cloning, therefore, enables the mass production of artificial life and liberalizes the field of genetic engineering into huge commercial possibilities.

Success of Animal Cloning

When cloning involves embryonic cells, the success rate of the procedure is relatively high, exceeding 50 percent (Hare 272). However, the use of adult cells is associated with a high failure rate and close to 98 percent of cloning involving adult cells develop abnormally or die at various stages of development (Thompson 199).

This implies that even the success of these experiments when carried out on adult humans will result into many abnormalities or deaths (McLaren 1778). This is has been an area of major concern particularly to the scientists involved because of the related ethical issues.

Available evidence suggests that animal cloning is associated with increased frequencies of miscarriages, stillbirths, genetic disorders and lifelong abnormalities, indicating that the efficiency of this process is very low (Thompson 203). This inefficiency of animal cloning depicts the consequences the animals have to experience, especially the donor and surrogate animals where surgery has to be performed to extract the cells of interest and implant the embryos (Thompson 203).

Motivations for Animal Cloning

The major motive behind the cloning technique is for biomedical benefits. Supporters of this technology argue that it presents prospects of genetically modifying animals so that their cells and organs can be transplanted into humans to replace diseased ones (Hare 272).

Genetic engineering is deemed to bring success in transplantation due to the fact that animal cells can be made to overcome the risk of rejection or reducing the risk thereof. Animal cloning could also make available novel therapies for many genetic diseases that are currently incurable, for example Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases (Scott and Weissman 27).

Another reason that is advanced in support of animal cloning is the improvement of food production; therefore, alleviating hunger, malnutrition and suffering. Animal cloning ensures that the world will contain a rich supply of animals to clone, thus ensuring that there is constant food supply (Thompson 200).

Some proponents of animal cloning cite the high demand for animal food products in comparison to the low supply. It is evident that animal cloning will lead to the realization of animals that can mature earlier and those with qualities that are preferred by farmers. This supplements the traditional sexual reproduction methods that are slower and do not meet the population demands (Scott and Weissman 28).

Arguments against Animal Cloning

Given the diverse rationales for animal cloning, the ethical issues raised are complex in scope and involves ethical issues touching on religion, animal welfare, safety, and environmental aspects. From the religious perspective, cloning is considered as playing God.

Changing the factors that define life and death is usurping the divine prerogative as it is only God who has the power to create a living creature (Deane-Drummond 63). Cloning is, therefore, tantamount to blasphemy from the Catholic and other churches’ perspective and the work of creation as originally intended should not be interfered with.

I support this suggestion and strongly agree that animal cloning is challenging the authority of the supreme God by presuming to exercise the rights that belong to the creator. Therefore, regardless of the consequences associated with cloning, the most important concern is that it violates a significant moral duty. It cannot be argued that animal cloning is one way of facilitating the creation of life, but instead it is designing life.

Pursuing animal cloning as a way of improving food production and quality carries a high risk of contaminating the food supply with potentially harmful products. There is also a greater risk that this type of technology cannot be adequately regulated and it may spurn out of control, resulting into devastating environmental consequences on biodiversity and human life (Deane-Drummond 104).

Animal cloning has rapidly increased in the country, and large corporations have adopted a worrying trend of employing cloning in food supply production with little government regulation. Cloned foods have gained entry into the food supply when little studies have been performed to examine possible hazards and risks and the public possess little information concerning cloned foods (Thompson 212).

Advancing animal cloning in the context of biomedical research is also a dangerous approach. There is a likelihood of emergence of new zoonotic diseases due to cloning of animals with the intention of using their organs for transplant purposes (Polejaeva et al. 88). Further, animal cloning is likely to shift biomedical research from promotion of preventive medicine and finding means to encourage more organ donation to xenotransplantation by the use of animal organs (Fiester 334).

This presents a very dangerous alternative because of the possibility of animal pathogens crossing into the human population, resulting into emergence of new plagues and diseases. Another area of concern in using animal cloning technology in biomedical research is the complexity and high rate it has impacted the field of genetics.

At this rate, science is moving towards setting a precedence of creating new transgenic species and rushing toward a posthuman culture (Fairbanks 112). There will be a new breed of humans resulting from biological manipulations using technology. This will lead to genes being crossed between various species. This technology can be subject to exploitation, leading to breeding of new eugenics with unknown consequences.

Cloning of animals is contrary to natural evolution and traditional methods of animal breeding. This biotechnology method manipulates genes instead of the whole organism. The technology advances at unprecedented rates, indicating the drastic rate that this technology could redesign the human body and genome.

It is now possible to carry out studies and make money out of the knowledge on gene manipulation in animals. This technology turns animals into objects that carry genetic information to be manipulated through editing, transposing and copying. The animals are reduced to fragments of genetic information instead of whole organisms in order to conform to the market values. Furthermore, animal cloning turns them into instruments at human disposal for use for his/her own benefits (Deane-Drummond 109).

Animal cloning is a cruel method of curing diseases, in spite of the prospective benefits that may be made possible through this technology. Behind these benefits, animal cloning is advanced for commercial conveniences and only acts as a mechanism for commodification of animals (Thompson 208). This is an indicator of how much animal life has been trivialized and its dignity trashed upon.

Animal cloning is an unnatural process since it is generally more involving and interferes with the animals’ reproductive performance compared to the conventional means of production. Culturing of cloned embryos in vitro has been shown to stress the normal cell development process, resulting into physiological abnormalities. These are mostly manifested as over-sized animals and are associated with an increased fetal death rate (Fairbanks 126).

In some cases, these physiological abnormalities of cloned animals persist into adulthood, further perpetuating animal welfare concerns as these animals are more susceptible to diseases than non-cloned animals (Fairbanks 126). Cloning animals, especially using somatic cells, increases the likelihood of mutations whose consequences are not predictable, thus raising welfare issues as a result of genetic differences between cloned and non-cloned animals.

Furthermore, animal cloning may likely result into deleterious effects in the animal population and impact the environment negatively. This is because of the possibility of the cloned animals breeding with non-clones or as a result of an unanticipated production of some proteins that may have ramifications to the entire ecosystem (Riddle 113).

There is a potential of turning animals into objects and commodities through animal cloning (Thompson 123). This is because this technology subjects living animals into machine status that can be manufactured by human. This manipulation of animals also tends to exacerbate animal welfare issues since this procedure predisposes them into suffering due to diseases and abnormalities. Animal cloning turns human beings into insensitive creatures that are alienated to the suffering of other creatures.

Cloning of animals has reduced life to a status where it can be created and redesigned in a petri dish and genetic patterns can be modified like machines, making it difficult to differentiate between natural and artificial. The techniques that are employed in this process challenge the existing conceptualization of life and death, subsequently demanding a rethinking of the basic perceptions of ethics and moral principles (Fiester 335).

Animal cloning also does not arguer well environmentally since it presents a threat to the diversity of life (Fairbanks 138). Life diversity can only exist if natural selection is allowed to take place and man does not interfere with breeding by introducing artificial ways of producing organisms. Animal cloning essentially prevents natural selection and will ultimately alter evolution, leading to permanent loss of genetic diversity.

Fiester (337) hypothesizes that animal cloning poses negative consequences to the environment and may equally affect human beings negatively. In particular, cloning of extinct and endangered species and cloning of livestock may have impacts on the ecosystem as the clones interact in the environment. This is because disruption of the ecosystem is known to cause havoc on the life existing in a particular ecosystem (Fiester 337).

Another major ethical issue is that the animal cloning technology is the same one that can be employed in cloning human beings or generating transgenic organisms, whose implication may have devastating consequences as it will represent a dangerous transgression of technology. Adopting this technology threatens the society as it is bound to create a slippery slope of reproduction (Scott and Weissman 27).

Once animal cloning experiments are perfected, it will be only a matter of a short period before the same technology is transferred into human. It has already been suggested that scientists are exploring human reproductive cloning, thus demonstrating that animal cloning just provides a blueprint for transferring the technology into human studies (Riddle 115). It is clear that animal cloning forms the basis upon which cloning will be extended to humans.

Furthermore, it is common knowledge that genetic engineering and cloning technologies were developed for commercial purposes and the potential of the biotechnology companies reaping huge profits only means that all natural life forms, such as microorganisms, animals and human beings are liable to be turned into objects through genetic reconstruction (Scott and Weissman 27).

Since scientific processes usually first target objects of nature and animals, the use of animals for cloning is only an analytic gaze before focus shifts into cloning human beings. The cloning procedure has been successful in most animals to which it has been employed and is widely acknowledged that it can be replicated in humans successfully (Thompson 213).

Human cloning would in turn have implications on the philosophical perceptions of man, whose life begins at conception resulting into formation of an embryo regardless of whether it is in a petri dish. The essence of life must involve sexual reproduction. Animal cloning contravenes this as it involves mixing of genetic information from two individuals to create variation.

Suggestions

It should be acknowledged that technology is not self-sufficient since it is strongly embedded in social practices, identities, culture, and institutions. This calls for the authorities to consider the different perspectives of all the stakeholders regarding the risks and the manner in which they should be regulated, besides addressing all relevant factors (Simini 1366).

In the midst of the novel advances that are currently transforming the world, it is of great importance to recognize human value, appreciate and safeguard them in light of man’s ever anxious nature to set aside the moral fabrics for the opportunity of scientific advancement.

I am of the opinion that all consumers ought to be empowered with information that would help them make informed choices of products that are realized through cloning. This is because animal cloning has advanced immensely and stores and shelves are filled with foods whose origin, whether organic or cloned, cannot be established.

Given the conflicting attitudes towards cloning of animals, the government needs to enforce regulations that require cloned food products to be clearly labeled as such. Failure to describe that a food comes from a cloned animal or its progeny arguably creates a mislabeling of the food due to its mis-description (Scott and Weissman 29). It is also important that the government shifts its focus from economic considerations only to include a precautionary approach.

This will ensure that scientific data is moderated in situations where scientific uncertainty exists by evaluating non-scientific conceptions of risk. An approach that replicates the one in place for genetically modified organisms requiring pre-market authorization and compulsory labeling is required in the regulation of cloned foods in order to address the safety concerns, long-term issues, consumer worries, and animal health and welfare issues.

Conclusion

Advances in biotechnology can have different implications, some of which are beneficial while others are destructive. Animal cloning is one such field of biotechnology that continues to elicit mixed perspectives that pose significant challenges. While animal cloning presents many opportunities, the process is still not efficient since very few of the embryos live to maturity while most suffer from many physiological abnormalities.

This raises issues involving human welfare and ethics. Animal cloning also presents some consequential effects on food safety, thereby implying the need for regulatory policies. It is argued that the issues that are raised concerning cloning ought to be recognized and attended to by the government.

Animal cloning will, therefore, continue to be contested because of the scientific uncertainties surrounding them, the potential risks they raise and the ethical issues thereof. The appropriate approach at present is the formulation of regulatory policies that will make it mandatory to label all products that come from cloned animals, such as meat and dairy.

Labeling will help consumers make informed choices of the foods they buy since it is evident that cloned food products have already permeated the market. Food safety is only one of the many concerns that consumers have regarding animal cloning, and labels are necessary to give the consumers the information they require to make decisions that are appropriate for them.

Works Cited

Deane-Drummond, Celia. The Ethics of Nature. Malden, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2008. Print.

Fairbanks, Stephen. Cloning: Chronology, Abstracts, and Guide to Books. New York, NY: Nova Publishers, 2004. Print.

Fiester, Autmin. “Ethical Issues in Animal Cloning.” Perspect Biol Med 48.3 (2005): 328-43. Print.

Hare, Doug. “What of Animal Cloning.” Can Vet J. 44.4 (2003): 271-272. Print.

McLaren, Anne. “Cloning: Pathways To A Pluripotent Future.” Science 288.5472 (2000): 1775-1780. Print.

Polejaeva, Irina A. Chen, Shu-Hung Vaught, Todd D. Page, Raymond L. Mullins, June Ball, Suyapa Dai, Yifan Boone, Jeremy Walker, Shawn Ayares, David L. Colman, Alan Campbell, and Keith H.S. “Cloned Pigs Produced By Nuclear Transfer From Adult Somatic Cells.” Nature 407.6800 (2000): 86-90. Print.

Riddle, Brown. “Brave New Beef: Animal Cloning and its Impacts.” Brown Journal of World Affairs 14.1 (2007): 111-119. Print.

Scott, Christopher, and Weissman, Irving. Cloning, in From Birth to Death and Bench to Clinic: The Hastings Center Bioethics Briefing Book for Journalists, Policymakers, and Campaigns. Garrison, NY: The Hastings Center (2008): 25-30. Print.

Simini, Bruno. “Italian Scientist Investigated After Animal Cloning Experiment.” Lancet 354.9187 (1999): 1365-1365. Print.

Thompson, Paul. “Ethical issues in Livestock Cloning.” Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 11.3 (1999): 197-217. Print.

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