Being able to create life spontaneously from a small cell is a new phenomenon that has taken society by a storm for better or for worse. Cloning is the process of producing an identical biological entity, whether it be an animal or a small cell, through asexual reproduction (Seidel 43). Cloning is mainly used to create genetically identical animals or to obtain stem cells, which can create cures for diseases and illness. Although the intentions of cloning are for the greater good, it has become a worldwide dispute due to its uncertainty of science, ethical concerns, and its part against human morals (Seidel 45).
Cloning can be separated into two different methods, which are reproductive and therapeutic cloning. Reproductive cloning uses a technique referred to as Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT) (Gale 89). SCNT is a reproductive method to create mammals with the use of somatic cells and gamete cells. In SCNT, the nucleus of a somatic cell is transferred into an enucleated egg, which is an egg without a nucleus (Gale 89). Once placed into the egg, the eggs cytoplasmic factors will cause the nucleus to become fertilized (Gale 91). It will then be implanted into a surrogate mother, who will bear the organism. However, the egg can become mutated within the surrogate, causing tumors to form. There are many risk factors that can occur during reproductive cloning. If a birth fails, the surrogate can potentially die along with the cloned mammal (Wexler 101). In contrast, even if there is a success birth, it could result in mutations or birth defects, making it inefficient. Fortunately, there has been a success with nuclear transfer. Dolly the Sleep is the first organism to be cloned from an adult cell (Gale 95). This was an enormous success and advancement for cloning because scientists have concluded that cloning is indeed possible, and this discovery has led to more possibilities in biology, such as medicines and creating different other cells (Gale 95).
Therapeutic cloning is the creation of embryos for the purpose of biomedical research (Wexler 102). It involves somatic cell nuclear transfer, but instead of being implanted into a surrogate, it will be placed into a dish for research. Unlike reproductive cloning, the goal of therapeutic cloning is to generate embryonic and adult stem cells (Wexler 102). Stem cells are significant because they are pluripotent, meaning they have the capability of transforming into different types of cell and tissues (Wexler 105). Stem cells change in response to their environment, allowing them to morph into the different primitive and adult cells (Wexler 104) that are surrounding them. These cells can, not only, help to replace missing cells and tissues, but also, replace organs, allowing countless of cures and treatments that can be discovered from stem cells.
All of these benefits have many drawbacks as well. Creating a viable egg takes many attempts, which wastes money put into research (McGee 42). A viable egg must have stability with the nucleus, but there is an uncertainty of how many attempts will it take for the egg to be successful (Chadwick 207). It takes a lot of technology, skill, and sometimes luck to create a viable egg. Although embryonic stem cells are proven useful to curing diseases, adult stem cells have not proven the same (Chadwick 203). Adult stem cells are limited to the type of cell that is able to be cloned, resulting in a limited amount of diseases cured. Another challenge of culturing embryonic stem cells is growing without the use of animal proteins (McGee 43). These animal proteins are harmful to humans and are inefficient, proving them unusable for research.
Cloning has stirred many opposing opinions. The main dispute is that cloning another organism is against human morals (Seidel 44). These ethical concerns are more targeted toward reproductive cloning rather than therapeutic. Human morals, such as individuality, are threatened because clones are genetically made to be identical organisms, losing this special uniqueness in humanity (Seidel 44). A moral of equality has been questioned, as well, asking whether these rights will be implied toward cloned organisms (Chadwick 204). Also, there is a possibility of a division between humans and clones, which would cause more turmoil in society currently. Neoconservatives believe that cloning is a degradation of humanity. It is irresponsible and ethically wrong to clone a human because many consider cloning humans as tampering with life. Tampering with life goes against many religions, such as Catholicism, because they believe scientists are trying to play God as they create life because God is the only one who has the power to create humans (Chadwick 203). Besides being beneficial toward those who are infertile, there is no moral justification for cloning organisms. The population has been rising at a rapid pace, causing many activists to protest against overpopulation (Seidel 42). Adding clones into society worsens overpopulation further, proving that clones are unfavorable for society.
Although reproductive cloning has been seen negatively, more people have been supporting therapeutic cloning to help create new cures and medicines. Many different common disease and incurable disorders can be cured with the assistance of embryonic stem cells (Wexler 103). Because of its efficiency to change into different cells, they can be utilized to create tissues and cells genetically identical to the patients other cells because the patients own genetic material is used. This resolves the difficulty of the body rejecting the foreign tissues during transplantation (Wexler 102). Not only can embryonic stem cells help create identical cells, but they also have the potential to repair and restore damaged tissue. Therapeutic stem cells have the ability to expand and enhance our knowledge of stem cells and how cells have developed and evolve. This understanding can lead to more effective treatments and therapies suited specifically to a patients needs. Cloning can be used to mass produce farm animals to desired qualities such as producing helpful drugs and proteins that are useful in medicine. With the numerous disadvantages to cloning comes benefits that can prevent social issues that are present in society today.
2. Comparison to Frankenstein
The idea of creating a society full of identical copies of ones self is seen as enticing to many, but not to all. The controversy of creating artificial life is debatable because of its questionable morals. Frankenstein, written by Mary Shelley, is a fictional story that introduces Victor Frankenstein, a man who has a desire for knowledge, but he had no restrictions when it came to science. The lack of these restrictions leads Victor to create a monster, who, in return, ultimately caused his own creators demise. Similar to Victor, scientists pursuing cloning have the same desire to create artificial life that would be genetically identical to a parent organism. Clones and the creature in Frankenstein are similar because both were created artificially by the hands of man; as a result, it is implied that Shelleys negative views of the creation reflect present-day clones. Due to Shelleys admiration of nature, disfavor for excessive knowledge, and criticism toward mans selfishness and ignorance, Shelley implicitly portrays her distaste for cloning because of its extensive desire for more knowledge, disregard toward nature, and selfish neglect of harmful consequences.
According to Shelley, nature is a force that cannot be controlled and should be appreciated, but cloning contradicts this because of its ability to create artificial life from cells. In Frankenstein, Victor, similar to the scientists researching cloning, creates life at his fingertips by manipulating nature, which was the first step toward his betrayal to nature (Shelley 31). Like Victor, scientists, who pursue cloning, control nature by utilizing a process called somatic cell nuclear process, which involves replacing an empty somatic cell nucleus with an enucleated egg (Gale 89). Shelley argues against SCNT because replacing the nucleus with the egg creates man-made life, which goes against the morals of respecting nature. Throughout Frankenstein, Shelley often uncovers her respect for nature. When Walton admires the nature around him, he describes himself as vain to think that nature would reveal the poles to him in its region of beauty and delight (Shelley 5). Shelley depicts her love and joy for nature through Walton by describing the nature in such a wondrous light. Walton believes himself as vain because nature is too worthy of him, revealing how much Shelley glorifies nature above herself. Unlike Shelley, scientists today intend to strive and focus on one goal, which is advancements in cloning, not adoring nature. This determination drives them away from observing nature, which had also happened to Victor when he was so engrossed in [his] occupation that the seasons passed away during [his] labors (Shelley 34). Victor deprived himself of nature, which caused his well-being to decay, showing the effects of the lack of recognition for nature.
In Shelleys view, acquiring needless knowledge beyond the limits of science, as scientists have obtained in order to produce clones, will ultimately lead to ones ruin. Scientists invested in cloning desire more knowledge to expand the research of stem cells and clones (Wexler 101). As they continue to try to extend their knowledge on cloning, there are many risks, such as mutations, that come in hand with their research when experimenting with embryos and surrogates (Chadwick 201). Similar to present day scientists, Shelley illustrates a man, Victor Frankenstein, who had the thirst for knowledge (Shelley 18) at a young age. However, Victor represents a scientist with an excessive yearn for knowledge, who had no restrictions and had created a monster that he himself was fearful of. When Victor advises Walton to learn [from his own] misery and avoid seeking to increase your own knowledge (Shelley 156), he becomes aware of how his uncontrolled knowledge of science led his own demolition. Again, Victor tells Walton to avoid what he had done as he explicitly states about how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge [is] (Shelley 38). By reinforcing about how damaging knowledge can be, Shelley demonstrates her own perspective of how attaining dangerous knowledge can induce in a negative outcome. Frankenstein, himself, realizes the great harm of having too much knowledge as it doomed his future and happiness. Since Frankenstein and present-day scientists share the common thirst for knowledge, it is apparent that both will follow the same pursuit to their downfall.
Shelley portrays how selfish man is for not considering the negative consequences of new sciences, which is similar to present scientists that selfishly disregard harmful repercussions in order to pursue their ultimate goal of creating identical clones. In Frankenstein, Shelley brings up how the creation will live separately from the rest of humanity within the Amazon forest (Shelley 105), which portrays that Shelley believes clones are not able coexist with humans in society. Scientists studying clones have no valid reason to create identical organisms because these organisms will only cause a division between clones and humans, and drive each other apart (Chadwick 103). His creation was built because of his passions and ambition, which both had swept away all [his] hopes and joys (Shelley 20). Because he had not reflected upon the consequences of how far his passion drove him, he ultimately suffered from it. Creating his creature was only for the benefit of himself because he believed if he created a new species, it would bless [him] as its creator and source (Shelley 32), demonstrating how greedy Victor was for attention. His irrational action of creating an organism, only for it to deceive him, is another result of his ignorance. His ambition made him into a selfish man, where the world only revolved around him, causing him to become insensible to society and humanity around him. Scientists now are aware of the negative results of cloning, unlike Victor, but ultimately choose to ignore it and instead focus on the benefits. Lives and human morals are at risk when it comes to cloning (McGee 85), which Shelley proves that both should be prioritized. Disregarding these major factors will cause destruction upon society as a whole.
Cloning follows the same pursuit as Victors irrational decision; both involve a lack of respect for humanity and nature and ignorance toward consequences at hand, in which Shelley would reprimand against. Cloning allows humans to create life with their own hands and to manipulate nature as they please, showing a lack value for nature and how humans view themselves above nature. Although obtaining too much knowledge can be detrimental, being ignorant and inconsiderate toward the negative outcomes can also create the same damaging effect upon society. Having a limited amount of knowledge, regard for nature, and consideration for others will allow for a community benefit one another for the greater good.
3. Call to Action
Cloning has proven to bring inconvenient difficulties within society as it results in less diversity and more division. In society, everyone is unique and has individuality, but this originality will cease once clones are introduced. (Seidel 45). Clones are created to be genetic copies, meaning they will eradicate the diversity within our society, instead of embracing ones differences. It is evident from the tension within society that the people should work together to adopt variety, not remove it. Since scientists are already in conflict, this disagreement will ultimately create disruption between humans. As of today, there are many divisions within society among ethnic backgrounds, wealth, and political beliefs, which has lead to violence and the deaths of many due to protests. As stated by Ruth F. Chadwick, who is a research professor for the Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics, having clones present in society will only produce more discrimination, not only from humans, but also among clones themselves. As of now, scientists are in disagreement on whether clones are necessary, proving that clones are already creating division between humans. Since clones are copies and are not considered as real humans, humans will also question whether clones deserve equal rights, resulting in more debate and protest to arise in society (Chadwick 204). Being in a society means connecting and embracing each other, however, the addition of cloning will only divide and drive it apart, causing more turmoil within the community.
Although scientists argue that therapeutic cloning can create cures and save many lives, researching these cures involve a factor of uncertainty and loss of an abundance of money, which demonstrates the unnecessary need for clones. It is extremely difficult to produce a viable egg needed for cloning because it takes many attempts for a successful egg (McGee 42). According to Glenn McGee, who is a Professor of Healthcare Administration & Policy, about 50,000 dollars is spent for 100 eggs. It takes about fifty attempts to reach a viable egg, meaning about 25,000 dollars, which is an absurd amount, is spent to create a clone (McGee 45). Even when scientists have created a viable egg, there are chances of mutations or environmental effects that will cause the egg to become incompetent. These mutations and effects put the surrogate at risk of death (Wexler 101), proving how the unpredictability of cloning is a threat to our safety. Also, there is an alternative for biomedical research, which are iPS cells. For example, Ian Wilmut, the scientist who cloned Dolly the Sheep, has moved on to research iPS cells due to the fact that it is less ethically problematic and is technically simpler than cloning. iPS cells are pluripotent, which enables the development of any type of human cell needed for therapeutic purposes. They are similar to stem cells, but iPS cells do not involve the misuse of human embryos. Therefore, there is no need for cloning because it is unethically correct, detrimental to our society, and can easily be replaced with iPS cloning, which does not risk our safety or murder innocent human embryos.