"God blessed them and said to them, Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.'" (NIV) Ten years ago Dolly, the first cloned mammal was born. She was a sheep cloned by scientists at the Roslin Institute in Scotland. (Oak Ridge) Since then there has been a swarm of controversy over cloning in general. (Caplan) Even as the technology and use of cloning advances, major ethical questions are raised. To answer these questions it is important to understand the cloning process and how it actually works.
There are actually three different types of cloning, DNA Cloning, Reproductive Cloning, and Embryo Cloning. DNA cloning is just what it sounds like, cloning individual strands of DNA so they can be observed for study. This process has been around since the 1970's. Since DNA strands are so small it is difficult to study them in small quantities. This process combines the DNA of the gene of interest with a bacterial plasmid that replicates the DNA. This process has been used extensively by the Human Genome Project but cannot be used to clone an entire specimen. (Oak Ridge)
The second type of cloning, reproductive cloning, is where it gets interesting. This is the process used to clone Dolly. The process used in reproductive cloning is called "somatic cell nuclear transfer" (SCNT). In this process, scientists transfer genetic material from the nucleus of a donor cell from the animal to be cloned. This material is transferred into an egg whose nucleus has been removed. This new egg must be treated with chemicals or electric current to stimulate cell division. The embryo is then transferred to the uterus of a female host animal that carries it till birth. (Oak Ridge) As a side note, the researchers at Roslin named their sheep Dolly after Dolly Parton since she is quite well endowed and the donor cell used in the process was a breast cell. (Caplan)
The third type of cloning, embryo cloning, is actually used on human cells. It is not used to clone humans but in much the same way as DNA cloning it is used to clone embryos that can be harvested for stem cells. This raises all sorts of other ethical questions that go beyond the scope of this paper. (Oak Ridge)
Recently there has been a stir in the news about animal cloning. Not about cloning a winning race horse or an endangered species like the California condor, but about cloning animals for food. The FDA recently announced that they believe cloned meat is suitable for human consumption. (FDA) This has caused many people to evaluate whether it is ethical. If most people understood the facts of the cloning process they would realize that there is nothing wrong with cloning animals for food.
This discussion begs the question, "why"? Probably the best reason to clone animals for food is quality. Clones themselves are too expensive and difficult to produce to be slaughtered for food. The plan is to clone an animal with desirable genetic traits and then breed that animal the old fashioned way to produce superior herds of livestock. By "old fashioned way" of course I mean artificial insemination and selective breeding.
There are many reasons to clone and the company, ViaGen out of Austin, TX is at the forefront of it. They have been in the cloning business for several years now. Along with genetic banking and checking the quality of Angus beef, ViaGen clones animals for its customers. One of the most notable cloning efforts is Scamper, a champion barrel racing horse that was cloned by ViaGen. If cloned food is approved ViaGen is sure to be one to go to get it done in the United States. (ViaGen)
Ever since man has herded animals and domesticated them, we have been interfering with the natural order of things and God's creation. This had been going on for a very long time. We know from the Bible that...
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