Cloning is the process of creating an organism that is a replica of another. In other words, it means creating an organism that has exactly the same genetic composition as another organism. This indicates that the two organisms have the same DNA structure. Human cloning, therefore, refers to the process of creating the genetically alike replica of a human being. Cloning had started a long time ago, but its impact was strongly felt when the first mammal was cloned in 1997 (Harris 353). Human cloning is not ethically right and has been a controversial issue for a while. It raises the question as to whether human cloning should be legalized as a public policy. A few groups are in support of human cloning, arguing that it is a legitimate form of reproduction; but scientists and policy makers are in total disagreement with this argument due to both safety and ethical concerns (AAAS Par3). Many nations are divided on the issue of human cloning; in fact, the UN gave up on the efforts to create a global treaty on human cloning (Robertson Par7).
Background of the Policy Issue
Human cloning regulation is a significant international policy issue. It has created heated public and academic debates globally, although there is little or no clarity concerning the foundations for many emerging policy choices relating to the issue. Many of the cloning laws found in different regions are generally justified by the notion of human dignity (MSU Par1). The justification is based on the fact that reproductive human cloning infringes the notion of human dignity. The problem with this justification is that there is no formal policy countering reproductive human cloning that has provided a clear and operational definition of human dignity. That is, there is no clear explanation as to how exactly reproductive human cloning infringes human dignity (Caulfield 6).
Despite a number of policy statements and public objections to the idea of reproductive human cloning, there is no clear basis as to whether this innovation should be supported or not. Opponents and proponents of reproductive human cloning have never come up with a concise argument to support their stand (Caulfield 6). The sections below will address the benefits and limitations of human cloning. The paper will also provide my personal opinion concerning human cloning policy issue.
Benefits of Cloning
Despite criticism from the opponents of human cloning, it still exhibits some benefits if used in the right way. Some of the benefits of cloning are analyzed below:
- Organ replacement: Some vital organs of human beings can be replaced with the cloned body organs. This practice can be lifesaving if, for instance, a failed kidney is replaced with a cloned one, instead of using kidney transplant (Oak Par3). This practice can act as a backup system for humans.
- Natural reproduction substitute: Cloning has the capability of producing children, thus it can serve as an option to reproduction. Due to the ability to produce children, it can be used as a solution to infertility in human beings (BERIS Par2). Cloning will also allow humans to produce children with the qualities of their choice.
- Genetic research: Genetic engineering field finds cloning technologies very helpful in their research. They are able to understand the genetic composition of human characteristics in a better way (Oak Par3). It also helps genetic engineers counter some advances of certain genetic diseases in an easier manner.
- Obtaining specific traits in organisms: With cloning, it is possible to customize organisms in a way that they will help the society at large. It can help in replicating animals so that they can be used for research purposes. Cloning can assist in altering the genetic composition of animals and plants, thus creating those that can benefit the human (Javitt et al. Par1).
Disadvantages of Cloning
Every scientific invention has a negative side. Cloning is no different; it also has its disadvantages, which are discussed below:
- Harmful to genetic diversity: Cloning will directly lessen the diversity in genes because it only creates identical genes. This practice will weaken the ability for adaptation because all organisms will contain similar genetic constituents. This will directly kill the beauty associated with diversity (Almanac Par1).
- Encourage malpractices: Cloning of body organs can encourage malpractices within a society, if not used in the right manner. It can also lead to reproduction of human beings with undesirable traits.
- Cloning is not cost-effective: This technology is very costly and cannot benefit the average person. Due to the economic and technical barriers to this technology, it is considered of no use to the average person.
- Man-made being: It is not possible to fit cloning of the human being into our moral and ethical principles. People will always view a cloned being as another man-made being. Many questions will always be raised about someone who has been produced through cloning. Religion, on the other hand, will not accept this practice because it views it equal to emulating God (NCSL Par1).
My Point of View
Human cloning has received legal restrictions in many countries; thus, it is not possible to pursue it and the current technology is not safe enough to be tested on humans (NCSL Par1). Subjects who have been cloned and survived suffer from a number of genetic abnormalities. For instance, the rapid aging of cloned cells in such people shortens their lifespan. Human cloning violates the dignity of human beings and should be discouraged by all means.
In my opinion, reproductive cloning is of no use due to the health and safety concerns which might bring on challenging genetic complexities in future. Therefore, it is worth considering tight regulations on human cloning. In my view, research cloning should be allowed, but reproductive cloning should never be made legal. The reason being that the former will allow technological advancement in the field of genetic engineering without raising ethical and health issues, while the latter is unethical and will pose many health problems in future.
The way scientific policy issues are currently handled might affect the advance of technology, particularly biotechnology. For instance, the notion that human cloning lowers human dignity can affect other future innovations. Many scientific innovations are aimed at improving our lives, but if we counter some innovations by arguing that they are degrading our human dignity, we might discourage technological advancement. Therefore, we should direct our arguments to countering some technological advancement in a logical and coherent way.
Cloning, like any other scientific invention, has two sides - positive and negative. From the analysis of this subject, there are some benefits that are very crucial in our lives and others that are not. For instance, cloning some vital body organs, like the heart and kidney, is a very important life-saving practice. However, I would not consider producing children as a benefit, because someone will be producing a copy of him or herself. In this case, who will be the father or the mother? Despite that, cloning is giving infertile people the chance to produce a child; it is not a good practice at all.
Cloning can kill diversity, because we may end up having the same genetic constituents. If all of us had the same genetic constituents, then our adaptation to different situations would be very difficult. With this in mind, I cannot agree with the idea of cloning oneself. A cloned human being will always be viewed as a man-made creature and people will not value such a human.