to clone or not to clone

On February 24, 1997, the whole world was shocked by the news that Scottish scientists had successfully cloned a sheep. Dolly an artificially cloned mammal was born a star. After the shock, that cloning was not only a possibility but a reality, wore off the out cry against human cloning began. Physicians, scientists, politicians and church leaders and many more have been trying to ban the cloning of humans ever since. Is cloning something to be afraid of? I do not believe it is. I believe that cloning will become a tool of science that will, in time, bring many benefits to humankind.

What is Cloning?
The Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia describes a clone as "an organism by an asexual (nonsexual) reproductive process"(clone 1). This definition means that we already have many clones on the earth today. The Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia also states that "the organisms known as prokaryotes (the bacteria and cyanobacteria), a number of other simple organisms, such as most protozoan, many other algae, and some yeast’s, also reproduce primarily by cloning, as do certain higher organisms like the dandelion or aspen tree"(clone 1). The Biology Textbook Concepts and Connections describes a clone as "a single organism that is genetically identical to another"(G-5). With this definition we can come to the conclusion that identical twins are also clones. Cloning then is not a new idea but one that has been around since the beginning of time.

How it is Done
Embryo Splitting or Blastomere Separation
Embryo splitting as Gregory Pence, a medical ethicist, writes is when "an embryo that has already been formed by sexual reproduction is split into two identical halves"(Flesh My Flesh: intro). The National Bioethics Advisory Committee calls this process blasotmere separation and explains that "each cell, called a blastomere, is able to produce a new individual organism"(15). See Appendix A figure one. Pence also writes that embryo splitting is "a process that has been used for years to help infertile couples who could not produce enough embryos, it [is] neither a breakthrough nor startling"(Flesh My Flesh: x).

Nuclear Somatic Transfer or Nuclear Transplantation Cloning
In nuclear somatic transfer a nucleus is taken from the cell of an already existing person and placed into a fertilized egg which has had its nucleus removed. The egg cell is then stimulated to divide and grow. Thereby producing a clone or twin of the person whose DNA was used. This is the manner in which Dolly was created (Who’s Afraid Cloning 11).

Clones Are Not Always Completely Identical
In Embryo Splitting the clones would be identical twins. However, in Nuclear Somatic Transfer, where most of the controversy lies, a clone will not necessarily be an identical twin. The reasons for this lie in the host egg. Although the nucleus is removed, and therefore the majority of the DNA, it is impossible to remove all the DNA. The mitochondria (tiny organelles in the cell) contain tiny bits of DNA. Because of these mitochondria DNA a cloned person may not be completely identical to the person whose DNA was used(Who’s Afraid Cloning 18). Please see diagram labeled figure four in appendix A.

How Cloning May Benefit Humankind
Therapeutic Cloning
Therapeutic cloning could be used to clone any of the body\'s tissues. This does not involve cloning an entire person but only the tissue needed. Please see diagram labeled "the ultimate body repair kit" in appendix A. In an on-line scientific magazine Andy Coghlan discusses therapeutic cloning and how it is done. He writes that "[t]herapeutic cloning would use the technique that created Dolly the sheep to grow cells for transplants that are matched to their recipients - for instance to replace the brain cells lost in Parkinson’s disease"(1:3). Many thousands of people die every year while waiting for an organ transplant or as a result of tissue rejection. With therapeutic cloning there is no chance of rejection as it is your tissue that is cloned. Think of how wonderful it would be if one of your family members or even you yourself could be saved because of therapeutic cloning.
Birth Defects
In the normal reproductive process many chromosomal abnormalities can occur during meiosis in the testes of men and the ovaries of women. When this happens if the child is born it can have major birth defects. Downs Syndrome is