November 19, 2007
By Guadalupe Martinez, Phoenix, AZ

Bam human cloning, what’s your first thought? Maybe you’re thinking of Star Wars and the massive clone armies. Perhaps the movie “The Island” comes to mind. Where a company uses clones as an insurance policy for the extremely wealthy and harvests the clone’s organs when they need it. Responsible research of human cloning should be allowed for the development of possible medical uses to benefit mankind.

The majority of planned bans on human cloning leaves adequate legal loopholes for Richard Seed or other scientific extremist to create carbon duplicates of people. Lori Andrews, a professor of law and an expert in issues surrounding reproductive technologies said, “even if the Republican’s permanent ban on cloning embryos had not been voted down this week in Senate, there would still be ways around it for a determined cloner and his lawyers.” Seven state laws specifically ban the creation of a genetically identical individual and California has adopted a law that bans the transfer of a nucleus into a human donor egg. The glitch: some DNA remains in the nucleus from the second individual and lawyers could argue that the clone is not an exact duplicate of the original person. Scientists have said that cow eggs can be used as a universal incubator for nucleic DNA of other mammalian species; going around the California law. Another loophole, the bans might not apply to the creation of a headless organ donor, which some may say does not count as an individual (Copyright c by United Press International. All rights Reserved). Some recommended federal legislation prohibits the creation of human babies, does allow privately funded labs to continue working with human embryos. A cloning advocate predicted laboratories would experiment with human cloning despite of any ban (June 7, 1997,n.p, by Mara Bovsun, UPI Science New).

The opinion of the public varies with how the context is structured and worded. For ex: when the word “clone” is used, there is a lower level of support. However, when the phrase “somatic cell nuclear transfer” (SCNT) is used and the word “cloning” is not mentioned, there is substantial public approval for the technology. The Genetics and Public Policy Center conducted a survey in 2004, of 4,834 Americans age 18 and older regarding their attitudes about reproductive genetic technologies as well as cloning. Adults over the age of 50 generally objected to research cloning (81%) compared to younger age groups. A greater percentage of respondents with no religious affiliation reported approval of research cloning (42%), than those with a religious affiliation of scientists working on ways to create a cloned human embryo for research. More than three/fourths of those surveyed believed cloning should not be implemented at all. Although, the questions asked did not state the possible benefits or harms of research cloning (Cloning in America, Keli Whitlock Button).

Some of the possible benefits of cloning are creating genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and producing cells for transplantation. The birth of Dolly showed that both fetal and adult cells could be reprogrammed to return to embryonic stem cells (ES). This breakthrough has major implications for medicine and agriculture, by using genetic engineering to transmit different genotypes into animal cells. When the animals bred, their offspring would have the desired transgene. The human protein used to prevent and treat disease could be produced in large quantities in the animals’ milk under observation. Isolating proteins from milk is simple and may be an extremely cheap and efficient way to produce human or animal pharmaceuticals (eMJA, 1997). Another benefit would be in the agricultural field. For ex: in China the most commonly modified crop traits include resistance to diseases, bacteria, insects, and herbicides, possibly leading too larger crop yields of cotton, rice, wheat, soy, tobacco, etc. Their researchers are working to develop deliverable human vaccines in the milk of goats, rabbits, and cows (Nancy Chen, China’s Biotechnology Bloom).

Some would have you believe that human cloning is wrong. Rev. Ronald Cole-Turner said that it is unsafe and irresponsible. Another Rev. Frank Pavone said that the Catholic church is not against cloning animals and plants, but said human cloning is “outrages” and “blasphemous”. Here is my question, how is it unsafe and irresponsible? Where is the proof since human cloning has not been attempted? Some would consider it “outrages” through their morality and ethics, but how is it “blasphemous”? To my knowledge no religious texts, scrolls, books, or manuscripts mention anything about cloning humans or organisms. Another concern they would have, people asking to clone a specific person. Well, Dr. Lan, a British scientist, who helped clone “Dolly”, a cloned lamb, was asked to do so by two families with dead loved ones. He told them No, that the person would not have the same experiences that make them who they are and the clone would not live up to expectations. Dr. Lan is “in favor of responsible cloning research that will open new worlds of biomedical research (Mara Bovsun, UPI Science News).

Done responsibly and with care, human cloning can have the potential to deal with some of the medical issues such as the shortage of organ donors, those who had limbs amputated and perhaps those with cancer. The possible benefits far outweigh the risk. Contact your state representatives and have them allow responsible cloning research. We won’t know until we try.

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