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An Essay on Cloning From the Ninth Grade

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Hello,

 

My name is Andrew Brinton, and I am entering my school's Advanced Science Research team this coming school year as a sophomore in high school. During my past two years learning Earth Science and Biology, I have discovered a love for the sciences, which is why I joined my school's AP Bio class and ASR team. This past year as a ninth grader, I was assigned to write a bioethics paper. The class was given a multitude of topics to choose from, and I chose the topic of cloning. The idea of the paper was to share my views on the question; should biotech companies or the government regulate human cloning? I thought I might share my paper here, and gain opinions from the scientific community. Any feedback on the paper would be much appreciated! I'm looking to better this paper and expand on the idea in the future.

 

Thanks viewers,

 

Andrew Brinton

 

 

 

 

On the Topic of Cloning

Andrew Brinton

Introduction (1)

 

Cloning has been thought about throughout the the past as a topic of science fiction. Movies and futuristic novels that include clones have captivated audiences for years. This has created a somewhat extreme perspective of cloning as an uncontrollable power, used to build armies and create fictional empires. However, this is an inaccurate representation. Cloning is not science fiction, and in fact, the cloning of animals has been performed hundreds of times. In 1996, Dolly the sheep became the first clone to grow, mature, and reproduce successfully. Since then, companies like Lazaron Biotechnologies and Advanced Cell Technologies (ACT) have been cloning livestock for a few reasons, including mass production of animals for medicinal harvest and the preservation of wildlife and endangered species. Advanced Cell Technologies have been one of the first and only companies in America to pursue a human-cloning system. Human and animal cloning can be beneficial for many reasons, including disease treatment, the preservation of wildlife and endangered species, human organ repair, and embryonic stem cell research. Cloning does have its drawbacks, especially under the category of human cloning, a topic that has been highly debated and is still controversial to this day. Negative results of widespread cloning could mean almost ending variety in a species, ethical, social, and religious violations, and legal violations. The question is then raised about cloning: Should the government control cloning, or should the companies that run these cloning services do so? Since the world is home to 7.5 billion people, many people would have various opinions about human and animal cloning, ranging from scientists, government workers, small town workers, high-end factory owners, religious leaders, insurance companies, and public safety workers. In addition, these varying professions would influence certain people’s beliefs opinions towards cloning, and it is not very often does one person remain objective to the subject.

 

What is Cloning? (2)

 

Cloning is essentially making an artificial being- creating life almost. This idea has been around for almost two hundred years, ever since Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was published, which was the first to propose the creation of artificial life. Today, many people see this as a fairy tale, something that seems so absurd, to combine different forms of organic material to create something in a lab, which then grows into a living, sentient being. The idea is not so far-fetched anymore. In 1984, Steen Willadsen removed the nucleus of an embryonic cell from a lamb, and using an electric shock, fused the nucleus with an egg cell that had its nucleus removed, and implanted it in another lamb that acted as a surrogate mother, one that would hold the developing lamb. The lamb eventually was birthed, proving that a mammal could fully develop from an embryo created by nuclear transfer, the process described above. In 1996, Ian Wilmut and Keith Campbell used cultured sheep cells- cells kept alive in a laboratory- to serve as a nucleus donor to an enucleated sheep egg cell. These cells eventually grew and were birthed into the lambs known as Megan and Morag. Later that year, they repeated the same process, but with one difference; Wilmut and Campbell used somatic cells, or body cells, from a fully matured sheep as a nucleus donor for nuclear transfer into an enucleated sheep egg cell. The cells divided and grew into a fully mature sheep, now known as Dolly, who is now considered the first somatic-cell based clone to grow up and mature to reproduce. Dolly’s growth and maturity as a sheep proved that by using a specialized somatic cell as a nucleus donor for nuclear transfer, the DNA found inside of it could still be used as a means for embryo development- the idea which lies at the heart of the concept of cloning. (www.learn.genetics.utah.edu, History of Cloning) Since then, many animals have been cloned in the same fashion including rats, cats, cows, other sheep, etc.

 

Laws and Regulations (3)

 

Currently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institute of Human Embryo Research Panel have legal jurisdiction over human clone research and animal cloning. The Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2003 was passed on February 27, 2003, which “banned” human cloning on paper, but was never officially addressed nor was it acted upon by the United States of America Senate. The Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2007 was introduced on June 5, 2007, but it technically didn’t ban cloning- only the implantation of a cloned embryonic cell into a woman.(www.staff.lib.msu.edu, Federal and State Cloning Laws in the United States) For this reason, the bill never passed, and to the present time have no attempts been made to ban cloning in a similar fashion; however, many politicians and government agencies have opinions that disagree with human cloning. Since the matter is a sub-controversy on the federal level, states have taken the matter into their own hands. Five states (Arkansas, Iowa, Michigan, North Dakota and Virginia) have banned all human/embryonic cloning from taking place, for any purpose. Three other states (Louisiana, Rhode Island, and California) have banned cloning as a means for initiating a pregnancy; however, California exclusively encourages the use of cloned cells for embryonic research, while Rhode Island and Louisiana have banned cloning for embryonic cell research, as it is inhumane to destroy human embryonic cells for research. Five states (South Dakota, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania) have no specific laws about cloning, but have interpreted regulations in such a way that bans any human embryo destruction, and since there have been no successful human clones created yet, this effectively bans cloning in these states. (www.cloninginformation.org, Current State Laws on Human Cloning)

 

Results and Effects of Cloning (4)

 

Cloning is such a controversial topic, and the controversy is fueled by many different effects that could arise from human cloning, and occurrences that have already resulted from animal cloning. Cloning has effects on both ends of the spectrum including positive and negative results that influence many people across the world.

 

 

 

 

Positive Effects of Cloning (4.1)

 

Since the time when Dolly proved that animals could fully grow and reproduce as clones, hundreds of animal clones have been made. The company Lazaron BioTechnologies, now situated in South Africa, is particularly interested in cloning as a means to preserve wildlife. By cloning endangered species, population size increases, and the more animals are able to reproduce, and eventually we might be able to take their names off of the endangered species list. The company Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) was the first company to clone an endangered species of wild ox known as the Guar. They combined the nucleus of skin cells of the most recently deceased Guar from 1993 with normal enucleated cow cells to birth “Noah”. Unfortunately, Noah contracted a bacterial disease after two days of life, and died, but he proved that endangered species could be cloned, all which had been debate until January of 2001. (www.biology.iupui.edu, Cloning Endangered Species) From the point of view of environmental scientist, cloning endangered species would be a good idea, since it preserves wildlife, allowing for future studies that may end up being beneficial to humans through stem cell research, alternative medicine found in exclusive proteins produced by certain animals, and further advances the environmental community since it would bring back a lost piece of the food chain, restoring part of the natural balance that has been lost to humans. Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States of America, but by cloning animals injected with human heart stem cells, mass production of these cells can be made. Heart disease/heart attack is caused by patches of heart cells that lose blood flow, and die, which eventually results in the heart stopping. Scientists can locate these dead cell patches- but there is almost no way to repair them. By cloning animals that contain human heart stem cells, scientists and medical professionals can then use the heart stem cells in people with heart disease, repair the dead cell patches, and effectively prevent a heart attack or other life-threatening heart diseases. (www.humancloning.com, Benefits of Cloning) From the point of view of a person with a history of heart disease, this could pose a possible solution that could potentially be life saving if the need ever arises. If these cells are created through clones, medical professionals could use this to their advantage since the mass production of human heart cells would eventually lead to a decrease in the price of the procedures involving these cells, which would be beneficial to the patient as well as the medical personnel.

 

Negative Effects of Cloning (4.2)

 

Cloning has negative effects in addition to the positive ones. One negative, and at the moment inhumane, effect of cloning is that the offspring created would have increased aging speed and have a greater risk of disease. The reason that many argue this is inhumane is because the creation of an organism should not be allowed if the organism will live a short, painful life. The reason that the lives would be shorter and an increased risk of disease is because of the telomeres of an organism. The telomere is a small cap-like structure at the end of an organism’s chromosomes. The telomere’s function is stop chromosomes from losing base pairs, otherwise the chromosomes could become dysfunctional as a result of missing or altered base pairs in the DNA sequence. The reason why a clone would age faster is because the original nucleus of the clone, in the very first cell used, coming from a fully grown somatic cell of an adult organism, would have shorter telomeres. The reason the clones chromosomes would have shorter telomeres is because when a cell divides, about 150 base pairs are lost from the sequence of DNA of the telomere. Eventually, as time passes, an organism’s telomeres become shorter and shorter because of how many cell divisions take place. Once the chromosomes reach a certain point when the telomere is too short, or “critical length”, cells can no longer keep dividing. This is known as aging, and is the reason why older organisms are more likely to get hurt and sick, since the cells that are needed to prevent/heal from these inflictions can no longer be created by the cells.(www.utsouthwestern.edu, How Telomeres Work) If a clone is born with telomeres closer to a critical length than a newly born organism birthed in the traditional manner, the aging process will be faster with the clone, since the telomeres would already be shorter, effectively shortening the lifespan of the organism from birth. As a result, the clone would live a shorter life, and be more vulnerable to both physical and immune injuries, as the cells and proteins needed for it to survive would not be able to be produced by the body. From the perspective of an animal advocate, this would not be an optimal choice since it would be creating animals that live to die essentially, and the only function they would serve is to serve humans. Human cloning poses different problems, for different reasons. The telomere effect can also be applied to humans- if a human was cloned, it would also have a shorter lifespan, and be more vulnerable to disorders. Human cloning would pose two major problems. One negative result of human cloning would be that the clones may be used for commercial use. This is because since the clone is created by a company, it is technically a company entity, similar to how a farmer has cows as his/her company entities. The major problem, and possibly the most controversial part of human cloning is how the clones would be treated. Humans should not be treated like farm animals, nor as company property- the clone would need to have rights, but since there are not any human clones, the chance for such rights to be created has not come about ever. If the human clones did have rights, then it technically would be separating them on a legal level from “traditionally” made humans- segregating them from other humans because they were created in a lab, and not by a man and a woman. This brings up the ethical argument that clones, humans, being treated either as private property, or being segregated on a legal level is inhumane, and if this were the case, it would go against the United States, United Nations, and many countries around the worlds’ view of humanity- a human, but not like every other human. This is the core of anti-cloning organizations like the Counsel for Responsible Genetics and Americans to Ban Cloning Coalition. From the point of view of most people on earth, the idea of treating clones as property and denying them rights is inhumane, and would make us question ourselves as a humanity- what is humanity? Is it defined by how one is created? One final negative effect of cloning is that cloning, or artificial birth, goes against biblical beliefs that all humans are to be created from a man and a woman- it would essentially challenge traditional religious beliefs for all of the major religions around the world. From the point of view of a devout religious leader, human cloning would be a bad idea, and they would not support it as it would violate God’s “rules” for human life.

 

Personal Views (5)

 

In my opinion, life is the greatest thing that has happened in the entire universe. Though this may sound far-fetched, the ability to think, move at will, and do basic tasks is taken for granted by most people. Life is (as far as we know now) exclusive to our planet- nowhere else is there anything like us. Nowhere at all. Life is the most precious thing that anything could ever experience- although we do not know how it “feels” to not have life- we know how it feels when someone else loses theirs. Death has a profound effect on people’s lives. Every living thing is, after all, alive. To create life- to give life- is something that has been thought of as a godly power of a being somewhere far up in the sky. Humans do not “create” life- we combine our cells together to produce another being. Cloning does the same- it combines certain cells and their components to produce a human being. The main idea being proven here is that cloning is not inhumane unless humans make it inhuman. I believe if human clones were to exist, they would not be just property, and they should have the same rights as any other human being on planet earth. The right to life- the right to think, have feelings, feel pain, feel happiness- is something that is an inalienable right, and the United States of America fights for this right across the world every day. The right to life cannot be taken or given at will. If something is alive- it is alive- and any living thing, including humans, have the same rights as every other living being. They should have them at least; and we live in the United States of America, land of the free- so who is any government to control a human’s right to humanity? Who is any company to do so as well? Well, there isn’t any company or government that can do so- our law systems are in place to preserve human life, there are no laws that take away human life. Humans act to control one another- even take away life from others to do so- but in the end, we all have the same rights as humans. If an alien race came to earth out of nowhere, we would be united as a humanity, not individual companies or sects of the world, therefore, if another human joined the group, they would also be united under all of planet earth’s humanity. Governments are in place to regulate certain parts of the world- what we know as countries- but the government does have the final authority, and it is best if the government were to sit down and think through the bioethical issues that find their way into our lives. Companies controlling cloning would essentially be the ones giving rights to their company entities. That is not a company’s job- that is the government’s; to work in the best way to ensure that humanity can survive and thrive. As for religious views on cloning- if God is accepting of all, then he would not have a problem with any clones- the clones may end up being believers in God themselves. If the government were to control cloning, then religion, as a means to stay out of governmental values and decisions, should also remain out of influence as to the cloning controversy.

 

Conclusion (6)

 

Ever since the first clone, Dolly, was created, cloning has been a topic of controversy across the world. It has many beneficial results for humans including medical purposes to prevent diseases as well as environmental preservation of endangered species. It also has ethical and humane factors that many people believe pose a negative connotation to the topic of cloning including the effect of telomeres on human aging and vulnerability, and clone rights and humane rights towards clones. Ultimately, it would be best if the government were to control human cloning regulations, and not the companies themselves, since even though it is the companies doing the research, the clones’ that hypothetically would be produced are made by the companies, it is not the company’s responsibility to protect the rights of the clones- who would still have the same rights as any human being on earth, since we are all one under the same race: humanity.

 

Bibliography (7)

 

“Benefits of Cloning.” Good For, www.biology.iupui.edu/biocourses/N100/goodfor8.html. Accessed 23 Apr. 2017.

“Cloning Companies.” Companies doing cloning, staff.lib.msu.edu/skendall/cloning/companies.htm. Accessed 23 Apr. 2017.

“Cloning Dolly the sheep.” Cloning dolly the sheep, Animal Research, www.animalresearch.info/en/medical-advances/timeline/cloning-dolly-the-sheep/. Accessed 23 Apr. 2017.

“Cloning Laws on State and Federal Levels.” Cloning Laws and Public Policy, staff.lib.msu.edu/skendall/cloning/laws.htm. Accessed 23 Apr. 2017.

“Cloning Regulations in the States.” CloningInformation.org, www.cloninginformation.org/current-state-laws-on-human-cloning/. Accessed 23 Apr. 2017.

“Cloning Throughout Modern History.” The History of Cloning, learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/cloning/clonezone/. Accessed 23 Apr. 2017.

“Shay/Wright Lab.” UT Southwestern Medical Center, www.utsouthwestern.edu/labs/shay-wright/research/facts-about-telomeres-telomerase.html. Accessed 23 Apr. 2017

Tingnu. “The Benefits of Human Cloning.” The Benefits of Human Cloning, www.humancloning.org/benefits.php. Accessed 23 Apr. 2017

 

 

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I thought it was a very interesting read and i really liked it. However i am only a highschool student interested in biology so i cannot give you anymore feedback. 

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This is well written and well thought out.  In many ways better than numerous posts under Speculations from our occasional quacks posting alternative theories lol.

Excellent job so far a very good read +1

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Hello! Here are some stories i remember reading your essay. May be interesting for you too.

1. Bernard Siegal, an attorney who was trying to protect the human rights of supposely cloned child. 

2. Reproductive process of human cloning is not prohibited in many countries. In Russia, for a moment the moratorium was ended at 2007, and it's not banned for now the same as in USA. The monkey was cloned in 2007, and the human embrion cloning happened too already. But was not successful. At least, as it was announced here

3. The process of cloning is very well common in nature. Bacterias, for ex.are all clones as they are genetically identities of each other. Artificial cloning is another process by principle. So its a question of morality as it is an act of human will. So this parr is the most interesting one for me personally as i ask myself can i be a mother of my own clone. Its my own DNA, my own bio material and my own decision to raise me myself as my own child

Thanks for an exiting reading the essay of yours, Evgenia

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