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The Science of Cloning & The Ethical Issues Associated With It - Essay Example

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The present paper discusses the science behind cloning, its various uses and applications, along with the ethical issues and debates associated with it. It is important to understand what cloning is and how it may be an ethical concern, as it has become an integral part of our daily lives. …
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The Science of Cloning & The Ethical Issues Associated With It

Download file to see previous pages... It is evident from the study that most of the ethical concerns raised on cloning often relate to ‘reproductive cloning’, the term that refers to the creation of a new living being, which is an exact copy of another living individual, merely with scientific procedures that do not involve sex or copulation. Scientific advancements since the 1990s enabled scientists to clone animals, the first successful product of which is Dolly – the sheep. This demonstrated the possibility of cloning a real human being, the mere thought of which appeared unethical and dangerous. Cloning technology may make it possible to clone human beings as bio-factories for harvesting transplantable organs, for other therapeutic purposes, and also as a solution to infertility. As cloning technology is bound to pervade our future lives, it is vital to understand its possible implications so as to make informed decisions and ethical choices. Although cloning appears to be the product of recent scientific advancements, its concept has been prevalent since ancient times. The word ‘clone’ has been derived from the ancient Greek word, ‘κλων’, meaning ‘twig’. The word was first applied in botany, for plant grafts, during the early 20th century. By 1970, the word began to be applied for viable animals and humans created from a single parent. In the present context, cloning refers to the production of an artificial and genetically identical copy any living being. Major advancements in cloning technology date back to the 1950s, when Robert Briggs and Thomas King attempted the cloning of frog species through somatic cell nuclear transfer. They were successful in cloning tadpoles using embryonated cell nuclei but were unsuccessful in cloning tadpoles from somatic cells. John Gurdon, a British biologist, later on successfully cloned frogs using somatic cells (UNESCO 2005). Cloning of mammals was considered a far-fetched idea at that time unlike the cloning of amphibians, as it requires complex procedures. However, this idea was soon brought to realisation in 1997, when a Scottish team at the Roslin Institute, led by Dr Ian Wilmut and his colleagues, successfully cloned a sheep, the first mammal to be cloned (McLaren 2002). The resulting clone was named Dolly, who went on to become a “celebrity, the butt of countless jokes, a symbol of modern science, and a source of hype and even hysteria” (Kass & Wilson cited in Logston 1999). The Dolly episode was considered a huge scientific breakthrough, receiving enormous media coverage globally. The significance of this feat was that for the first time, cells from adult mammals could be used for re-creating a genetically identical copy. However, contrary to popular notion, Dolly was not the first sheep to be cloned (Human Genetics Alert 2004). Since the 1980s, cattle, sheep, and other mammals have been cloned. However, in these earlier cases, the donor nucleus was an embryo and not an adult cell. Prior to Dolly, only embryonic cells could be used as the source cells for cloning. The successful creation ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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