Cloning is a biotechnology field that has been under intense protection ever since the cloning of Dolly the sheep in the year 1996. This breakthrough saw Doctor Richard Seed announce that he intends to clone human beings using the technique used by Keith Campbell and Ian Wilmut to create Dolly the sheep (Wilmut, Campbell and Tudge). Human cloning technology is an area that should not be left to develop as it is characterized by multiple ethical issues. With the availability of the cloning technology, Governments globally instituted domestic laws which banned human cloning activities. However, these nations saw that it was paramount to have regulations governing human cloning on a global scale rather than leaving the regulation to independent countries. Due to the serious implication that and life-altering ramifications presented by this area of biotechnology, the debate on human cloning regulations has shift its focus on the concept of human rights.
For us to effectively cover the concept of human cloning, it will be imperative to cover the two types of cloning available. Therapeutic and reproductive cloning are the two types of cloning. Reproductive cloning procedure is employed in the production of the same genetic makeup similar to that of another human being. Reproductive cloning technique involves the creation of babies by implanting embryos into the uterus. The resulting product will be a live child. On the other hand, Therapeutic cloning is a form of cloning that deals with the production of embryo for the purpose of research with the aim of production of human embryonic stem cells that can extracted and used for the development of treatment of a number of human diseases and disorders (Jensen 4). The human somatic-cells nuclear are utilized when dealing with therapeutic cloning. This process involves the nucleus of a human somatic cell being transferred into an oocyte where a nucleus has been rendered inert or removed. A cell will then divide and form an embryo after the nucleus transfer. Stem cell possess the ability to develop into any tissue or organ. Important to note is that this process is different from the in vitro fertilization, both processes lead to the development of an embryo which can be used for research. When dealing with invite fertilization, it uses a sperm and an egg when creating an embryo.
Scientist globally have supported the idea of therapeutic cloning being contended with the fact that it avails an avenue to study changes in the genetic makeup. By exploiting this area of research, patients who suffer from diseases such as Alzheimer, diabetes and Parkinson diseases can have their genetic makeup studied. According to scientist, there is a belief that embryonic stem cells can be used to facilitate drug development and evaluation (Pham). In addition, it can also be used to diagnose patients and to develop tissues and cells for transplantation. On the other hand, the opponents of therapeutic cloning argue that this process is ethically and morally unacceptable, this is because it necessitates for a scientist to develop an embryo and later terminate it in order to harvest the stem cells.
Scientist globally agree that the practice of human reproductive cloning is morally unethical and should be discouraged the ‘Playing God’ argument is one of the common arguments that objects the idea of reproductive cloning. However, there is little of consensus when it comes to measures that should be taken to regulate therapeutic cloning. There have been some divisions in nations whereby they should complete ban all practices pertaining to cloning or if they should only ban reproductive cloning and let therapeutic cloning to thrive guided with strict regulations.
The United nations is one of the global body that has had contribution to this matter .It has tried to remove the confusion that exists in this areas with the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on Human Cloning .The main purpose of the United Nations to highlight on this issues was to establish an international framework that will foster responsibility societal governance on matters pertaining to human genetic technology (Gruskin, Grodin and Annas 161). However, it is important to note that this declaration fell short of implementing the international framework it aimed to develop. Since the agreement was non-binding, the declaration contains ambiguities that leaves nations to have limited guidelines on how they should establish national legislation on matters of human cloning.
There are many dangers that might be as a result of human cloning, for instance Ursula Goodenough, who works as a cell biologist from the Washington University did add an application of this technology. She claimed it was a way to reproduce without men. Such as situation can render men superfluous in reproduction and phase out men’s role in reproduction or create a world without men. This would lead to the ultimate feminist utopia.
According to scientist including the creators of ‘Dolly the sheep’ they claim that human cloning will only lead to many questions than answers due to the continued animal research. Another potential danger can be as a result of reactivation of cells in a gene. This process is risky. This is because an adult cell is composed of already differentiated genes whereby only a small fraction is activated to perform their specialized tasks. There may be some mutations if scientists activate genes that are not active.
In addition, cells that have differentiated can rearrange themselves as a subset of their genes. A good example to illustrate this can be whereby cell that are immune rearranging themselves to form surface molecules. Such a rearrangement can lead to problems for the resulting clone. Also, if the entire set of genes in an adult DNA are not reactivated properly, there may be future problems with a clone during later developmental stages. This claim can be supported by the high levels of death associated with cloning at the laboratory stage due to DNA damage as may be the case during cloning of ‘Dolly the sheep’.
Furthermore, the inability of scientist to not have a comprehensive understanding of the cellular aging process, they lack the understanding of the genetic clock that will be inherited by the subject (Piazza and Sforza 381). There is compelling evidence that a cloning subject will inherit the generic clock of the nucleus donor. such a situation will greatly undermine developments which have been made supporting cloning. People will view clones as copies of human that are short lived and disposable.
From the discussion above, it is evident that human cloning is a controversial issue which is coupled by binding international regulation. There is a general consensus on the issue of reproductive cloning from the general public, scientist and politicians. As illustrated above, there are many motivations that desist scientist from participating in cloning. Some of the concerns include individuality, safety concerns and family integrity among others. However, based on the paper, there is a varied global view when it comes to therapeutic cloning? Critical issues such as moral and ethical issues having been a stumbling block for scientific and medical advancement. Therefore, the issue of human cloning should be avoided as it is subject to controversy and fear of the unknown presents itself to the world.
In addition, the existing domestic laws have proven to be inconsistent and have been observed to contradict each other in some cases. This situation presents researches with limited regulation on how to go about human cloning research. Failure for one binding international guideline on cloning allows for researches to move to other countries where they can pursue their research. There is also the problem whereby nations in need of funding can tend to ignore unsafe and unethical research practices to attract researchers conducting their research within their borders.
It is unfortunate that the United Nations failed to give offer an international consensus which would regulate activities revolving around human cloning. The adoption of the declaration makes the United Nations not to formally consider this issue until a point in time when it is brought forward by a member state.
Lastly, there is need for the United Nations to implement a binding international convention that will regulate human cloning. States need to strike a balance between individual interests and come to a compromise that will lead to a consensus. Human cloning has potential ramification which are both negative and positive. These ramifications necessitate for extreme efforts to lead to a binding international regulation. Nations need to work together and deter developments in human cloning by enforcing the regulations set forth.
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