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Technological And Ethical Concerns Of Cloning

3014 words - 12 pages

Before the discovery of Deoxyribonucleic acid, what scientists consider genotype and phenotype, or respectively innate and observable traits, inheritable traits were thought to be encoded by proteins. However, with the discovery of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and the understanding of its structure by Watson and Crick, the possibilities of cloning and even altering DNA become reality. Most notably, the successful cloning of a sheep, popularly known as Dolly, poses questions of what constitutes ethical standards of genetic alteration and copying. Stem cell research, which aims to fulfill purposes such as organ replacement without need of immunosuppressants, also becomes debatable with advancing technology. Known as Moore’s law, technology doubles in computational capacity every two years. Given that DNA is read through a electronic sequencer, new discoveries and advancement of electronics adds complexity to bioethics most important question: Should genetic material be replicated or mutated, then reinserted into living cells? While the theoretical and practical implications of cloning are feasible for improving the human condition, major technological and bioethical issues must be taken into consideration before advancement and application of cloning technology are furthered.
Bioethics concerning DNA, while seemingly appears to be concerned with issues of genetic engineering, is actually concerned with a very unscientific question: Should humans play the role of self-creator? For example, the use of stem cells, even those of adult or non-embryonic stem cells, have been cited a ethically complex. Insoo Huyn of Case Western Reserve University notes that embryonic stem cells, which have the ability to differentiate into any type of human cell, are especially debatable. Known as “pro-lifers” or creationist activists, they argue against using any cell that has been derived from embryos on the basis of a technical interpretation of when human life is considered to begin. According to senior lecturer of pre-clinical studies at the University of Leicester, life begins at conception or when the male sperm meets the female ovum and merges to form a zygote. Although her opinion in no statistical manner represents the totality of all “pro-lifers,” the general stance is based in Judeo-Christianity or tertiary source guidelines concerning the biology of life; therefore, opposes any act of creation that is not God’s will or potential to destroy human life. This opinion is seemingly shared by the United States federal government, which dictates that the National Institutes of Health restrict funding of embryonic stem cell studies that derive the cells from in-vitro fertilization procedures or donations, as implemented by executive order of President Barack Obama. Scientifically, the process of removing stem cells from an embryo or guiding the division of adult stem cells is considered cloning, since a copy of genetic material is propagating itself within a...

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