The Dalai Lama and Dolly the lamb, what could these two possibly have in common? The Dalai Lama being the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism and Dolly, a lamb. The answer is nothing except a confused middle schooler in science class. I first heard about Dolly the lamb and confused it with the Dalai Lama. I believed the Dalai Lama to be a person that was being cloned over and over to allow for the same spiritual leader into perpetuity. The reality is that Dolly the lamb was the first mammal generated using reproductive cloning (Singh-Cundy.) What exactly does cloning mean and where does it show up in everyday life?
According to Michael Rugnetta, a writer for Brittanica.com, cloning is a process used to create an identical genetic copy of a cell or an organism. It occurs regularly within prokaryotic organisms like bacteria that use binary fission to replicate. Do eukaryotic organisms use cloning as well? Yes, they do, the skin cells of the body are created through mitosis which creates two identical daughter cells. However, the human body also has sexual reproductive organs that use meiosis and create gametes that help increase diversity within the population (Singh-Cundy.) Reproductive cloning requires three steps. The first necessitates an egg is taken from a donor and the nucleus is removed. Second, an electrical current is used to fuse the egg and with a somatic cell and chemicals are added to trick the cells into forming an embryo. Finally, the embryo is implanted into a surrogate mother and fingers crossed, a baby animal is born (Singh-Cundy.) This specific type of cloning used to make Dolly is something we hear about every so often in the news, this family paid an exorbitant amount of money to clone their beloved family dog. Barbra Streisand paid for her dog, Sammie to be cloned and the process created five puppies, three of which she kept (Streisand.) A gentleman from Louisiana paid more than $100,000 to a foundation in Korea to have his dog cloned and he is not alone. The organization in Korea is not the only one of its kind, in Texas, another company called ViaGen has established a cloning animal operation. The company originally cloned horses and livestock but, they have switched gears to land in the cloning of house pets (Landman.) Cloning is used to create loved pets, does it appear anywhere else? It has appeared in livestock such as sheep, horses, and pigs.
Livestock cloning was were this reproductive cloning started but, where has it gone? Are people drinking milk produced from cows that are clones, are people eating steaks from a cloned a cow? If we are consuming these goods, are we endangering ourselves? The FDA states that eating cloned animals poses no additional risks to the consumer. Due to that determination no labels need to be placed on food that may be made from cloned animals. However, cloned animals are mainly used to reproduce the best breeding stock and then those animals are allowed to breed. The offspring of the cloned animals are then the ones to be consumed (USDA.) In a contradicting article written by the Center for Food Safety, it states that the cloned animals struggle with reproducing healthy offspring and often become lame. The propensity for these problems would lead to a higher amount of antibiotics and hormones given to the animals. An additional article also calls into question the study size used by the FDA to say cloned food is safe. The article claims one of the studys only had six animals that had their milk and meat analyzed. If the FDA had originally based all their claims on this study, done by the University of Connecticut, it would hold no value, as six animals is too small a group size to draw any claims on (Scientific American.) The FDA states that since the use of that study from 2008, hundreds of cloned animals have been observed.
The act of cloning seems to play an increasing part in our day to day life. The question of whether we are eating cloned food, isn’t able to be distinctly answered. We may be but, until the government decides to pass legislation to make it necessary to tell the public, we won’t know.
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