Cloning is a process of creation of an organism with an exact genetic copy of another. Others like Sateesh (2008) define cloning as a term that refers to the production of one or more animals that are genetically identical to the donor animal. In addition, Winston and Edelbach (2012) define cloning as the asexual reproductions aimed to produce whereby individuals that are genetically similar to an already existing person. In order to achieve the cloning process, an array of techniques can be explored. This article, therefore, aims to examine these technologies and the ethical, legal and social issues surrounding them.
Recombinant DNA, Reproductive and Therapeutic Cloning Technologies
Sandhu (2010) says that recombinant DNA technology is the transfer of fragments of DNA from one organism to another having a genetic element with replication abilities. He further notes that it is used to study related technologies such as genetic engineering and gene therapy. Those genes that add nutritional value are often used in genetically engineering food crops and thus adding value to such foods. On the other hand, reproductive cloning technology is used to generate an animal with a similar nuclear DNA as another. Apart from being used to create animals with special qualities, this technology can also be used to maintain the population of the endangered animals such as the wild sheep. Last but, not least is therapeutic cloning. This is a technology used to produce human embryo used for research purposes. The cloned human beings are basically used to study human development and the advanced ways of treating human diseases. Furthermore, it is also used to produce human cells for the replacement of damaged cells. This will help in the improvement of the health care system. However, the embryo may be destroyed during extraction (Winston & Edelbach, 2012).
Ethical, Social and Legal Issues in Cloning
Cloning is one of the advanced technologies that have raised eyebrows as far as ethics is concerned. More often than not, it is the religious fraternity that raises the question concerning the same. To many religious groups, cloning is absurd since they hold the view that life begins at conception. Nonetheless, it is considered ethical for heterosexual couples in which case the husband is completely sterile to produce a child. This can be achieved by coupling an ovum from a woman with a cell from the man thus contributing to the formation of a child (Sateesh, 2008). Sateesh (2008) asserts that this technology encourages lesbianism since lesbians can have a child by adult DNA cloning. One woman in the relationship donates her ovum while the other donates nuclear genetic material. To the lesbians, this appears to be ethically appropriate while to the religious, public domain, this is ethically immoral as it encourages homosexuality.
On the flipside, social issues may arise as a result of this technology. If the technology becomes successful with human beings, it is most likely that the human products of cloning will receive negative publicity. The clones will, as a result, feel different thus affecting their relationship with other children who are sexually reproduced. On top of this, most clones experience various defects namely birth defects, premature aging, deformed limbs and organs. This may contribute to a strained interaction of the cloned humans with the sexually reproduced children most of whom are normal. Further, the consumption of meat from cloned animals in the U.S. has raised a lot of questions since the cloned animals are considered unhealthy. This has seen various consumer organizations work ways to inform consumers of the existence of such foods and possible dangers brought by the cloned meat.
Furthermore, cloning technology has invited the full weight of the legal arm of areas in which it is embraced. Legal issues associated with cloning involve the regulation of the procedure. Several regulations have been put in place governing human cloning, especially after the birth of Dolly. For instance, President Clinton issued an executive order banning federal funds towards human cloning. Further, National Bioethics Advisor Commission recommended a ban on child production through cloning. A good number of states including California have also put legislation that prohibits human cloning. These bans have been made applicable to other cloning types like therapeutic cloning. Scientists have, however, argued that such bans are against their constitutional right to carry out their duties of research. In tandem with the scientific arena, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration allowed the consumption of products from cloned animals including meat in 2006 (Hinze et al, 2008).
Everybody has the right to have children so long as the children are not cloned. Currently, there is no federal law governing cloning, but the state governments have banned the cloning technology since it is very expensive and not effective to fund (Hinze et al, 2008). Human cloning is considered by most religious groups as going against God’s creation and is, therefore, sinful. However, human cloning is not playing with nature since it helps couples whose husbands are sterile just like in vitro fertilization. Moreover, cloning helps in the creation of stem cells. This, according to scientists, will make it possible to produce different organs. Cloned children may face discrimination from children who are sexually reproduced leading to their developing a low self-esteem. All in all, cloning is a scientific process that should be allowed to take place, but just like any other research, regulations should be imposed by the government.