Ethics of Human Cloning and Genetic Engineering Essay

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When the Roslin Institute's first sheep cloning work was announced in March 1996 the papers were full of speculation about its long-term implications. Because of this discovery, the media’s attention has focused mainly on discussion of the possibility, of cloning humans. In doing so, it has missed the much more immediate impact of this work on how we use animals. It's not certain this would really lead to flocks of cloned lambs in the fields of rural America, or clinically reproducible cuts of meat on the supermarket shelves. But it does force us to ask questions about the way we are using animals with new technology, and the kinds of assumptions we make. To create Dolly (the cloned sheep), Scottish researchers simply took
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The amount of animals and the amount of milk is very small compared with conventional meat or bulk milk production. Imagine you are a commercial breeder of cows or hogs, and over many generations you have bred some fine and valuable animals with highly desirable characteristics. One possible application of Roslin's work could be to clone such animals from the cells of one of them, and sell the cloned animals to "finishers" - those farmers who simply feed up the animals for slaughter, rather than breed them to produce more stock. Again, the breeder might want to clone a series of fast growing, highly productive animals in a breeding program, in order to test how the same "genotype" responded to different environmental changes.


Would cloning narrow genetic diversity too far? Before we look at the ethics, there are some practical problems to consider. One of the fundamental rules of selective breeding is that you must maintain a high enough level of genetic variation. The more you narrow down the genetic "pool" to a limited number, the more you run two risks. One is that you could also have accidentally selected for some other not-so-desirable characteristic along with the one you wanted. (Klug, 1996) The selected lines could have certain disadvantages in some other genetic trait. These would be evened out in normal genetic diversity of selective breeding, but if animals were cloned, there would be no selection. The second risk is that
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