Cloning is when an organism is made as an exact copy of its DNA.
In 1996, Dolly the sheep became the very first animal to be cloned from a unique adult cell.The experiment in itself was a great leap forward for scientists.It was also proof that cloning could be done in animals at an advanced level.The ultimate belief was that the developments would be applied in humans in the future.
However,Dolly died a few months before her 7th birthday.This single event catapulted the world into debate about how important cloning was.Scientists believed it was a great step towards an important discovery,but opponents felt that the practice would complicate human existence in many ways.
The body of the world’s first cloned sheep, Dolly, is now stuffed and on display at the Museum of Scotland.
Supposing that better organisms are created through the process of cloning,and that they are more suited to existing conditions than the current ones,what happens to ‘lesser’ species? Does society get rid of them? What happens if cloning experiments go wrong? What happens to the ill-fated clones?
Today,the ethics of cloning remain a very divisive subject.
5 interesting facts about Cloning
- The first dog to be cloned was born in South Korea on April 24, 2005, and was named Snuppy. Snuppy was named as Time Magazine’s most amazing invention of 2005. The team that produced Snuppy went on to create the world’s first cloned sniffer dogs in 2007.
- Stick insects reproduce asexually by producing genetic clones of themselves.
- In 2013 Russian scientists extracts liquid blood from a frozen mammoth bringing the dream to clone one very close.
- For $100,000 the US company Mr Friend will clone your dog.
- In 2002 Clonaid claimed they had cloned the first human being, a girl called Eve.
The history of cloning
In actual sense,cloning started way before Dolly.The idea was first floated in 1938 ,but was not immediately explored.However,in 1952,scientists attempted to clone a frog,an experiment which did not succeed.18 years later,the frog was successfully cloned but only lived up to the tadpole stage.
Over the years,scientists made a determined effort to understand the reasons for the various results,and in 1996,Dolly’s cloning became a success.Since then,many animals have undergone cloning,with mules,deer and hounds being part of the pack.
Scientists have always sought to understand the genome of animals in order to perform successful experiments.Animals are selected according to their genetic compositions and cloned in a controlled environment.The one question science has had to face is the uncertainty surrounding the procedure.
Animal rights enthusiasts have pointed out that there are no guarantees of survival and that cloned animals are known to grow with defects as happened to Dolly.
However there is always the charm to bring an already extinct animal or species to life. The April 2013 cover of National Geographic asks a very apt question. We can but should we?
According to Tech Insider:
"In 2012, Sooam partnered with Russia's North-Eastern Federal University of the Sakha Republic to begin searching for a mammoth sample high quality enough to make a clone from. Mammoth hair, skin, or blood alone wouldn't be enought. The cells and DNA these samples contain would need to be well-preserved enough to hold up to the same process that enables dogs to be cloned."
Transforming important plants into perfect units of life has become incredibly easy.The methods applied involve the use of cuttings and tissue culture.Some of the most widely cloned plants include Marijuana and a raft of other choices considered to possess important compounds that could come in handy in the future.
Cloned plant products have been declared safe for human consumption.They are said to contain the same ingredients to their parent cells.
A group of scientific advisors have identified a list of approximately 100 iconic trees around the world that should be cloned. “We go for the biggest trees, because those are the ones that have survived,” they say, arguing that their genetics likely played a big part in that longevity. Is cloning such trees the answer to end Global warming?
The idea of human cloning has been around for years now. Researchers argue that while the concept is highly controversial, there is reason to believe that successful genetic combinations can be achieved. Therapeutic cloning aims at aiding patients in need of organ transplants. reproductive cloning is vastly different,with its enthusiasts believing that man will one day be able to make a complete cloned being rather than focusing on several key tissues.
The whole idea is highly controversial and religious opponents have accused science of ‘playing God’. But science has been doing that for quite a few years.
Imagine being able to clone yourself to a younger version. That would end up creating two personalities, two consciousness and two minds. How ethical would it be to harvest organs from the younger version? Who would decide?
The Cloning process
A very high level description of the cloning process would be: A somatic cell is taken from any part the donor’s body and electrically fused with an egg .The result is a fused egg,which is then treated in a culture environment. After a period of cellular division,the young embryo is moved into the womb of a surrogate individual,where normal development takes place.
Advantages of cloning
- It eliminates weak traits.
Through a systematic process,science is able to do away with weak traits in organisms,manipulating the process of growth such that organisms carry only desired traits in their DNA.This is believed to be a great step towards the perfection of the process of birth and development.
- It makes the process of reproduction a lot quicker
The development of cloning technologies means that organisms can be saved in critical times.Therapeutic cloning will enhance the practice of medicine as patients get quick replacements to failing organs.
Disadvantages of cloning
- There is always the risk of producing organisms with defects.
In the past,cloning experiments have turned out far less than perfect.While there are many reasons to be positive,the defects observed in some clones suggest that fatal mutations could emanate from experiments.
- Cloning does not provide answers to key questions
Cloning is a hugely controversial area, with opinions coming from different angles.Science believes that this is the way to go but religion pushes back with the assertion that man should never play God.Only time will tell how it all unravels.