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Cloning - Ed's journal
sobrique
sobrique
Cloning
I heard on the radio this morning, that there's been the first request for human embryo cloning.

The research project is to try and develop cloned insulin producing cells.

I'm still a little confused as to what the big arguments against cloning are. I mean, as far as I can tell, the ability to re-grow organs, tissues etc. would make an awfully big difference to quality of life around the world.
No more people permanantly blinded.
Heart disease becomes fixable.
Lung cancer repairable.

I can see there's sort of arguments that 'things man wasn't meant to know' but I really don't think there's many places where that line could or should be drawn.

I've heard vague fears of people cloning themselves. And I don't see the problem with that either. I mean, it's not like you can grow a clone and do a brain transplant. That just doesn't work AFAIK. So what you've _effectively_ got is a x year younger identical twin.

It's certainly settle the 'nature vs. nurture' argument.

So would anyone care to enlighten me? Why would be cloning be 'wrong'?
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Comments
mavnn From: mavnn Date: June 16th, 2004 02:45 am (UTC) (Link)
Personally, I'm much less worried by cloning, and much more worried about the idea of genetic engineering. If you want a younger identical twin, hey, you're strange but I don't have much problem with it.

If you want to engineer your child to be male, tall, blonde and blue eyed then I'd find that much more of a problem. Where you draw the line between medical and 'cosmetic' engineering is a much thornier issue.
sobrique From: sobrique Date: June 16th, 2004 02:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, for my money, genetic engineering is the logical extension of cloning.

And I agree, that it shouldn't be done for 'trivial' reasons.

What would be your opinion though, if someone found the gene for aging, and could alter it to give someone 'good health' for another 10 years?

The biggest danger of genetic engineering is IMO 'conformity'. The danger being not so much cosmetic stuff, cos at the end of the day, that's just 'skin deep'.

The real danger is if there were a discovery to being genetically predisposed towards being gay, overweight, or some other trait that some might consider 'undesireable'.

That's treading on difficult ground IMHO. Where does the line get drawn?
mhw From: mhw Date: June 16th, 2004 02:59 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't get it either. The best argument against it that I know of at the moment is that we really know very little about very early mammalian development, and so most of the current technology is very much of the 'suck it and see' type. While a success rate of a few percent and possible developmental abnormalities in cloned animals may be acceptable, people may not feel the same about humans. It might - and I say might - be better to hold off on human cloning until we understand the processes involved rather better.
lisekit From: lisekit Date: June 16th, 2004 03:41 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm well up for stem cell research. Hey, let's research things on the correct organism for a change! Sounds good to me....
jorune From: jorune Date: June 16th, 2004 04:39 am (UTC) (Link)
The practice of cloning and gen engineering will littered with mistakes, horrors and tragedies. There's a word for this - history. This is the aspect of the' Human Condition'.

I ask you to consider the Industrial revolution, my first paragraph would describe well. Who would live in a pre industrial culture?

I know I wouldn't. We live in a pre bio-revolution age and it is the central tragedy of our time. Disease, poverty, scarcity, famine are poxes that are will be cleansed by the advancing bio-world.

Hurrah for the advances of the future!
Forward to a transhumanist world. We desire greater challenges.

Freedom and liberty, even morphological freedom lies on the far horizon. We should waste no time advancing towards it.
sobrique From: sobrique Date: June 16th, 2004 05:11 am (UTC) (Link)
I agree. No new tech is ever entirely 'correct'. And there's always people who will use anything for ill purpose.
I'm still quite convinced that we're better off for the invention and discovery of such things though.
jambon_gris From: jambon_gris Date: June 16th, 2004 04:49 am (UTC) (Link)
As far as i can tell the objections are ethical and or fear driven.
cloned animals generaly die quickly and suffer quite a bit and in the uk the value of the experiment must outway the suffering caused. Since there is no clear end goal for cloning its very dificult to justify. Secondly there are religious issues and the whole Dr Morreau's island thing of playing god. DFinaly and sadly people just have an irrational fear of things they dont understand. The number of people who think that they can get mutated my eating GM crops is frightening, and of course the media encourages this as well. What doesnt help are the likes of Mossanto who whe righting a letter to nauture could be paraphrased as its ok trust us we would explain but your too stupid to understand. Considering the wrote this in the most highly regarded scientific journal where most of the reads would understand if the arguments were made clearly enough. Chadwick (the guy who descovered the neutron) said that if you cant explain the basics of what you are doing to the barmaid at you local then you dont understand it. What i think the cloning comunity need to do is clearly state what it is they hope to gain from it and how they are going to go about it. Then we can all make an informed desicion, after all we arnt stupid so if the cant say what the want to do and why either they dont know or are up to someting.
****** End rant******
From: feanelwa Date: June 16th, 2004 08:13 am (UTC) (Link)

A few arguments

One source of stem cells could be aborted foetuses and this may be seen by some pro-life groups as a possible motivation for more women to consider abortion as an option if they find that they are pregnant, because they could donate the tissue so that somebody could have a less uncomfortable life and thus pay off some of the guilt that we are apparently all supposed to feel if we were to have an abortion, and some proportion of women in that situation do feel. It may or may not be argued that the possibility of this also vindicates their political opponents' points of view (better to have fewer people with better lives than more people) and thus may make them look silly.

However that is by far not the only source of stem cells: other sources include umbilical cords, and although an organ grown from stem cells from the umbilical cord of another person who is a good tissue match will not be as likely to be accepted as an organ that is genetically identical to the organ that was taken out, it's a possibility. It's also possible that in the future everybody's umbilical cord could be frozen at birth and stored in case an organ requires replacement in their future life.

Another point would be that if a full clone is created, taking say its heart out to treat the patient would kill the clone, and this would be murdering your twin brother. In the case of a tissue such as Islets of Langerhans or bone marrow this would not result in the death of the clone but it can be argued that if the clone was created purely to be operated on, the clone may not have the option to refuse surgery that is unnecessary for its own survival, i.e. it would be operated o nwithout its consent. This irritates me for the same reason that a parent who has a child with a congenital defect and wants to have another child that's a possible tissue donor irritates me - donating bone marrow can be incredibly painful and forcing a two year old child to go through that without their consent seems to me very very wrong. Having said that there are many ways to make it less painful at the time and if it makes one very ill human plus one healthy human into two healthy humans then it's an option that is very difficult not to consider.

It is however probable that in the future we will find ways to grow just an organ by recreating the environment in the body well enough that it is no longer necessary to grow the body as well. This would be very good indeed. It is unknown as yet what would be required to eventually arrive at this state of affairs.

To summarise: a clone is also a human being (although if it's an embryo it's not as much a human being as a child or adult of course) and its treatment and rights must at least be considered.

Note that I'm in favour of stem cell research but not in favour of creating a new viable human being (i.e. one of full born human status) to live its life as only a tissue donor. I make the analogy of the Death Dealer character that appeared in an episode of Babylon 5 who had the means to live forever if you killed one other human being every year, well, it doesn't quite hold as an analogy but it's the same sort of wrong thing.
ewx From: ewx Date: June 16th, 2004 03:31 pm (UTC) (Link)

identical twin

Actually, not quite identical. Reproductive cloning only uses nuclear DNA (i.e. not mitochondrial DNA). So you could clone a fertile woman identically but not a man nor a woman who couldn't produce viable egg cells.

This is tangential to the BBC report though; embryo cloning (AKA therapeutic cloning) is something else again, and refers to stem cells (i.e. cells that haven't yet differentiated into muscle, nerve, etc) being extract from an embryo.

I'm certainly in favour of therapeutic cloning. It has the potential to do us a lot of good in the long term. Reproductive cloning I'm less sure about, but more in an undecided sort of way than a drifting-towards-opposition sort of way, IYSWIM.

mavnn From: mavnn Date: June 17th, 2004 01:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Social control via genetic engineering. Scary.

BBC
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