Pros & Cons of Cloning

Pros & Cons of Cloning
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  • 0:00 Definition of Cloning
  • 1:06 The Pros of Cloning
  • 3:29 The Cons of Cloning
  • 5:48 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Amanda Robb
In this lesson, we'll explore the major pros and cons of cloning. Before we get into the meat of the lesson, we'll review what cloning is, and then we will look at examples of how cloning could benefit society and some reasons we might need to hold off.

Definition of Cloning

In a sterile medical facility, humans grow in pods. Doctors move around the room, checking vitals. Today one human is ready to be 'born.' The pod opens with a hiss of steam and the human jumps to life, gasping for air from their liquid-filled chamber. She's an exact copy of other farmers in society, ready to harvest food for the rest of the population.

Although this scenario is not possible yet, plants are currently being regularly cloned for our food supply and many animals have already been cloned. Cloning is the process of reproducing organisms that have the same, exact identical genes, or DNA. A clone is like a photocopy of an organism. When humans and animals reproduce sexually, some of their DNA gets switched around in the sperm and eggs, so the babies don't look exactly like the parents, unlike the clone copies. Next, we'll get into the pros and cons of cloning.

The Pros of Cloning

Let's first look at reproduction. What if you could bring a deceased loved one back to life? Not zombie style, but a real copy of your beloved grandmother, or a sister who left you too soon. Would you do it? Although human cloning isn't an option currently, due to the ethical and medical concerns we'll discuss in the cons section, animal cloning is quite real. Since humans are technically animals, it's not too far-fetched to imagine a world of human clones.

Animal cloning has several benefits for humans. The FDA has ruled that cloned animals are just as safe to eat as animals produced naturally, a decision that opened opportunities to create animals with more desirable characteristics, such as high muscle production. Many steers are neutered and are unable to mate, but with cloning, exact copies with high muscle content could be produced, increasing productivity.

Endangered species that have trouble mating in the wild or in captivity, like the giant panda, could be cloned, creating more copies to save their species. In the movie Jurassic Park, scientists took dinosaur DNA from a mosquito trapped in fossilized amber and made new dinosaurs, creating a sensational, but dangerous park. With cloning and a proper DNA sample, it's possible that this could be a reality. Although the movie foreshadows the problems with making dinosaurs, other extinct animals with a less aggressive nature could be created, like the West African black rhino, which went extinct in 2006.

Now, let's look at therapeutic uses. Your mom is on the transplant list for a new liver. However, transplants are tricky because of the risk of organ rejection, which is when there isn't a perfect match to a transplanted organ, and your mom is still waiting. Cloning has the potential to solve this problem using a process called therapeutic cloning. Stem cells are cells that can become any other type of cell, and they can be found in the embryo, umbilical cord, and even in certain adult tissues. In therapeutic cloning, these stem cells can be injected with DNA from the patient, grown in a lab, and given certain chemicals that will cause the cells to grow into the organ the patient needs. This would create custom tailored organs for the transplant recipient, reducing the risk of organ rejection.

The Cons of Cloning

First, let's look at the potential ethical issues with clothing. The cloning process begins with eggs that need to be harvested from a female, which in itself is a long and painful process. In addition, cloning whole animals has a high failure rate, meaning many eggs die before a clone is actually carried to term. The cloning also results in many miscarriages, causing both emotional and physical damage to the surrogate mother.

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