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The Defects in Cloning

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“In the latest attempt [of cloning], the scientists had created 439 cloned cells of goat hybrids. Of these, only 57 were deemed suitable for transfer into surrogate goat mothers. And of the seven pregnancies, just one gave birth to live offspring” (The Independent). Cloning is not very effective, it takes lots of time, energy, and money for the tiny amount of success it brings with it (The Independent). Endangered animals should not be cloned. This can best be understood by examining background information, explaining the harmful side effects that result from this procedure, understanding that it leads to a lack of genetic diversity, and by addressing common misconceptions of cloning.
In order to fully understand this issue, it is necessary to first look at the background of cloning. Cloning is a term used for the non-sexual reproduction of an organism that is genetically identical to its parent. This process involves transplanting a specialized cell with the identical genes of the parent into another cell. The other cell is then put into a surrogate parent for it to grow (Badertscher). In 1938 a solution arose of trying to save endangered species, Hans Spemann suggested the idea of trying to clone the endangered animals (History of Cloning Timeline). Years later, in 1996, Dolly was created from the udder cell of a female sheep; it took 277 attempts to produce just one live, healthy offspring (The Independent). Dolly died in February 2003, suffering from lung cancer and severe arthritis. She showed signs of premature aging and died at the age of six compared to others of her kind who normally live up to age twelve (Badertscher), clones are known to not live as long. This process of cloning is a labor intensive procedure with about a one percent success rate (Bird).
The first problem with cloning is that it causes the animals involved to experience many harmful side effects. As stated in the newspaper, The Independent, “It is well established that cloned animals suffer from developmental problems.” The clone of an Asian ox dying of dysentery just 48 hours after birth (Trivedi) is one of the many examples of animals dying because of diseases. Baby clones have been known to have many respiratory problems, weakened immune systems, and horrific deformities such as squished faces, limbs that bend the wrong way, along with disfigurations of the heart, liver, and kidneys. The babies born with these deformities are stillborn or die soon after birth. A Significant number of cloned animals, as well as their surrogate mother who carries the cloned baby, suffer serious and painful disorders (Endanimalcloning.org). One common disorder is known as Large Offspring Syndrome. It is a common problem that occurs with cloned animals. Clones with Large Offspring Syndrome develop to be significantly larger at birth than a normal animal would be (Endanimalcloning.org). This causes pain for the mother who has to carry and give birth to the larger-than-normal baby. In one study, a baby lamb was reported to be five times larger than normal (Endanimalcloning.org). If cloning causes pain and suffering of innocent animals, it should not be practiced.
Another problem with cloning is that it does not increase genetic diversity. There is a greater risk of genetic defects among clones due to reduced genetic diversity (Badertscher). The lack of genetic diversity could lead to a “genetic bottleneck” (Should Endangered Animals Be Cloned?). This means that if the survivors all have the same genes, the breed could never change or adapt to survive in its changing environment. This could lead to the whole group becoming extinct because all the clones have the same weaknesses. A lack of genetic diversity could also lead to disease. If scientists were to recreate the last fifty animals of a species, there would be a lack of genetic diversity (Bird). This lack of genetic diversity could lead to a major outbreak of disease between the last fifty animals. Because they all have similar genes, the clones would be set up for a second extinction (Bird). If the clones died off due to lack of genetic diversity, the scientists would be back to where they started, with the still endangered population of animals.
Misconceptions of cloning conclude that it is a quick and easy solution to bringing back the population of an endangered species. People believe that cloning can solve the population decline of endangered animals, and that cloning is an easy and inexpensive procedure. “Many experts go further and say that cloning is a harmful distraction from the main job of the preservation of the wilderness, which is being lost at an astonishing rate, along with the plants and animals that live there”(The Independent). Cloning animals would take too long to keep up with the rate of habitat loss; it would never replenish the population of endangered species. Another problem is that people think that if we clone animals we no longer have to protect the environment. There are 3 to 6 billion trees cut down each year, which means habitat loss for thousands of plants and animals (The Understory). A report conducted in 2005, concluded that primary forest area was reduced by 6,000 kilometers per year (The Understory). People believe that just because we can clone animals, it is not as important to protect the environment. Another misconception that people conclude is the cloning is inexpensive, that is not the case. It would cost $11.6 to 29 billion to clone 1,000 of each species of endangered animal (USFWS). This does not include the humongous amount of time it would take to clone all of the animals either. People believe that because of cloning, they would not have to preserve endangered species anymore and that it is not a costly and labor-intensive procedure. There are other methods, which are cheaper and easier to use. Conservation through habitat preservation is a better way to protect endangered species.
Endangered animals should not be cloned due to the fact that it is harmful to animals and that it does not increase genetic variety. “The biggest threats to wild animals today are habitat loss, human encroachment, poaching, pollution and climate change” (The Independent). These problems could be solved through habitat conservation and other methods. Not cloning animals is important because when the scientists work on cloning animals, it gives people the impression that they no longer have to protect wildlife. The truth is, we should be protecting our wildlife before attempting to clone it.
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