When the first cloned sheep Dolly was born, the world media was taken aback by the medical breakthrough that scientists had achieved. Since then cloning has been regarded to be one of the most debated topics in the media and amidst erudite biologists, religious priests, and animal lovers. The debate on pros and cons of this technique is endless. Since we all agree to disagree and each one of us has a right to opine, it seems logical to take a neutral stand and study both facets of cloning. That will not solve the ethical issues related to animal or even human cloning, but it is surely a wiser thing to do.
With the concept of cloning gaining appreciable success in the last 10 years, it is said that if scientists succeed in getting total control over cloning, they will be able to create life. The power to create life is a territory that separates the creator from the creation; humans from God (for those who believe in existence of God). So, is man on the way to become God?
Some of the potential benefits of cloning are certainly thought provoking. Improvement in animal breeding, for instance, is one of the most beneficial aspects of this technique. During the process of animal breeding, when two species of the same or different breeds are crossed, the probability of healthy offspring with desired traits can't be predicted with mathematical accuracy. Hence, in many cases, there are unhealthy, diseased, and/or weak offspring. Cloning eliminates this threat though, as it helps in the production of replica of the animal that is required. In essence, we can breed cattle through this technique as per our desire, with no sick or deformed animals. It can eventually boost cattle production business all across the world. Moreover, healthy domesticated animals can be produced in larger number for food sources. This will further help in alleviating problems of world hunger. One of the other pros of animal cloning is that it will help in saving endangered species that are facing threats of extinction through natural selection or poaching.
Similarly, proponents of animal cloning support that it will help in protection of animals from constant risks of animal testing. It has to be understood that there are numerous animal testing cons that innocent animals have to face during experiments. Due to cloning, if any laboratory test is done on an animal, say a rat, it will be standardized and fixed for rats with the same genetic features. This will also lead to better results and accuracy in predicting the outcome of any medicine or drug. Till now, results of laboratory tests were not immaculate, as an animal X may not respond in a same fashion to a drug as another animal Y of the same species, owing to differences in individual entities. Further, the debate enthusiasts argue that cloning animals is beneficial as it helps in creation of new organs. Applied on the same principles, if that process is successful in humans, an individual in requirement of a kidney, leg, liver, or heart will be able to get it with the help of cloning.
Just like animal cloning pros, there are several cons too. High cost of research and whopping amount of money spent on cloning process makes it a very expensive procedure, and making it a mainstream part of social life still seems to be an impractical option. Financial feasibility is very important for any new medical breakthrough to succeed. In this regard, animal cloning fails. Results of cloning have also not been amazingly beneficial, as many experiments have failed.
There hasn't been any major scientific evidence on health and well-being of cloned animals for domestication purposes. Although FDA has been studying risks of eating foods derived from cloned animals, and it has even said in 2008 that meats and dairy products of cloned animals are not harmful, Americans are still not very comfortable about accepting foods from such animals. Also, risks of alterations at microscopic levels in the cells of cloned animals hasn't been denied completely by the medical fraternity. The FDA needs to conduct more research and studies. However, it is not unlikely that foods sourced from cloned animals will be in the markets four to five years from now.
Amongst scholars, the most frightening aspect of animal cloning is the argument that people with nefarious pursuits will use animal and human cloning as a weapon to wipe out peace and humanity. Threats of biological and chemical terrorism have advanced to alarming proportions in this cyber era. There is no guarantee that extremists won't use such a advanced concept to achieve their objectives.
So, what of animal cloning? Should it be allowed or must it be limited? But then, who will define the limits? Poor and developing countries can't invest money in R&D of animal cloning, as they are grappling with their own problems. Developed countries can think of it, but what about the numerous threats that cloning brings with it? As I said earlier in this article, this debate will continue. Join us in this debate on pros and cons of cloning by giving your valuable views in the comments section below. We will ensure that your views reach millions of readers spread all across the globe.