Animal and Human Cloning: Moral, Ethical, and Regulatory Issues
Dolly, woolly, innocent, and sweet, strongly contrasts with the severity of the issues that she has raised. Ever since the news surfaced that Dr. Ian Wilmut had succeeded in cloning a sheep, people around the world have been participating in a frenzied debate over the morality of cloning animals, and more importantly human beings. The cloning of animals and humans could help the world in unprecedented ways, but could also give rise to unforeseen problems. It raises moral, ethical, and regulatory issues which must be considered during with the formation of cloning legislation. While I believe animal cloning is useful on a restricted level, I feel that human cloning is unnecessary and I advocate its full prohibition.
Animal cloning could, in many ways, be beneficial to society. For instance, animals could be cloned to produce medicine. According to Ian Wilmut, cloned sheep could be used to produce a protein called alpha-1 antitrypsin that can help treat cystic fibrosis (2). Alpha-1 antitrypsin can be produced by inserting certain genes into the sheep that will be "expressed in the mammary cells," making the protein available in the sheep's milk (2). By cloning a sheep with such capabilities, scientists could have a potentially unlimited supply of this protein (2). According to one article, the animals would act as "hoofed pharmaceutical factories" (2). Scientists are also hoping to use this technique to produce human factor IX for hemophiliacs (15).
In addition to its medicinal benefits, animal cloning could be used to produce tissues or organs for transplants (15). This can be done by culturing "embryonic stem cells," or "primitive cells that appear between six and 12 days after fertilization" and that are capable of performing the functions of any cell in the body (15). Such work is now being done to produce pig organs for human use (5).
The cloning of animals could also be used to prevent the extinction of certain animal species (6). This, in turn, promotes the maintenance of a diverse environment (6).
Furthermore, cloning allows man to exploit the desirable traits of animals (8). For instance, one could clone a cow that produces large amounts of milk and that resists sickness (8). Such a process would maximize the production of milk, decrease the risk of financial loss and food shortage, and ensure that the desirable traits will be passed on to offspring (8). Also, disease resistant mice could be cloned for use in experiments (5). A company named Enzo Biochem Inc. has created a mouse immune to mouse hepatitis, which is very harmful to mice colonies as it spreads rapidly (5). The cloning of this mouse could provide scientists with a more reliable supply of mice for experimentation (5).
Lastly, the cloning of animals also provides research benefits. For example, through animal cloning scientists can now study how genes are turned on and off (17). An understanding...