Essay on Cloning Controversy

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Agricultural cloning is used widely by farmers hoping to produce the most efficient and advantageous crops. One reason that a farmer would clone a specific plant within a crop is because that plant may demonstrate resistance toward a pest or infection. (“Why successful plant cloning is important”, 2017). Additionally, a farmer may want to clone a plant due to a high yield of fruit or other desirable or profitable resource. With agricultural cloning, it is possible to reproduce pest resistance. This is also one of the numerous reasons why it is common among farmers. A strong mother with strong resistance to pests and disease will pass that trait onto its clones.

For example. the commercial Cavendish banana is the most common and the most popular variety of bananas sold worldwide. Nearly all these commercial banana plants are perfect clones of one another and have ‘more nutrition content than other varieties of banana’ (“Cavendish banana nutrition facts and how to enjoy them. It contains less sugar than other types but is packed with potassium.

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As for cloning in livestock, many species have been cloned since Dolly the sheep, the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell in 1996. ‘There are now estimated to be around 6000 farm animal clones worldwide’ (“A Primer on Cloning and Its Use in Livestock Operations”, 2018), with livestock species that have previously and are currently cloned being cattle, swine, sheep, and goats.

Farmers have strived for years to select animals with the best traits and breed them together. This elevates the chance these good traits will be passed on and become more common in livestock herds. Cloning such animals allows the farmer to control the offspring’s inherited traits, such as increased milk production. Therefore, a farmer who clones an especially desirable, but aging or injured animal knows in advance that the clone will have the genetic potential to be an especially good, younger animal.’ (“A Primer on Cloning and Its Use in Livestock Operations”, 2018). The process of cloning in livestock varies from agricultural cloning: farmers and scientists use nuclear transfer, which involves removing the nucleus from an unfertilized egg and replacing it with a nucleus from an adult somatic cell. The egg is then returned to a host mother, where it will develop into a new individual.

Controversy

There is vast controversy surrounding cloning plants and animals, covering ethical, social, biological, and other categories of implications.

Controversy of plant cloning:

The disadvantages of plant cloning are now a topic of concern for environmentalists and botany scholars who are concerned with some features of plants being destroyed due to cloning.

There is a lack of genetic diversity in the population of cloned plants; ‘if a single disease harms one plant it will likely harm all the crop because they are all identical’ (Cattle, McCreanor, Mago, 2008). In contrast, variations in a population offer different disease-resistance levels which protect crops from susceptibility to one disease that could wipe the whole population out. Plant cloning ‘helps in producing individuals of same species faster and in desired quantities’ (Pandey, 2018) and provides insight for geneticists and scientists in terms of cloning research.

The debate on plant cloning has no end especially when both pros and cons are weighed. While commercially, it is great for agricultural purposes, nobody can predict how harmful it can be if farmers adopt cloning instead of traditional and successful methods of farming. Moreover, with food scarcity becoming a global problem for third-world countries, it can be said that the future of plant cloning will certainly be of more significance.

Controversy of animal cloning

Cloning Dolly, the first cloned sheep through nuclear transfer, was a massive achievement for science. However, ‘the cloning process is far too costly to be commercially viable for farmers and breeders’ (“Pros & Cons of Cloning Plants & Animals”, n.d). One of the benefits of cloning animals is the ‘exciting prospect of re-introducing a recently extinct species’ (“Pros & Cons of Cloning Plants & Animals”, n.d.) such as the Tasmanian Tiger, and its potential use for protecting other endangered and vulnerable species. One disadvantage of animal cloning would also be the population's susceptibility to being wiped out by the same disease due to the identical genomes and lack of genetic variation.

Moreover, only a tiny percentage of cloning attempts have successful births with very few offspring being healthy. Without strict controls, cloning may spark significant animal welfare issues, as well as changes to the nature of the animals involved.

Advantages of cloning in agriculture

    • Many plants can be produced in a short amount of time.
    • Due to all cloned plants growing in a fixed period, it is easier to predict the time between planting and harvesting. In an agricultural economy, this can be a valuable boost to crop cultivation and earnings for farmers.
    • Plants with excellent nutritional benefits can be cloned to get plants with the same benefits. This aids in solving issues of poor vegetable and fruit quality.

Advantages of cloning livestock

    • Clones allow farmers to upgrade the overall quality of their herds by providing more copies of the best animals in the herd with desirable characteristics like disease resistance, suitability to climate, and quality body type (farmers naturally desire an animal whose body is well suited to its production function).
    • The agricultural industry can benefit from animal cloning by reproducing animals with superior genes that have livestock yielding more meat and milk.
    • Livestock are excellent sources of protein that are required in medicine, specifically in the research on human blood clotting. And ‘by cloning animals, the problem with the shortage of protein sources and vaccines that are derived from animals can be resolved’ (“9 Advantages and Disadvantages of Cloning Animals”, 2019).

Ethical guidelines

In addition to concern for animal welfare, many people have ethical and moral concerns about animal cloning. Many believe that just because scientists can clone animals for food, doesn’t mean they should, because cloning promotes the objectification of animals, treating them as mere machines for human manufacture. Hence, from this, it can be concluded that scientists must first fully consider the welfare and health of animals, as well as the ethics involved before studies regarding the cloning of livestock are carried out.

Primary people who have ethical objections to cloning in agriculture

Many feel that cloning is ‘unnatural’ because, overall, it requires a “significantly greater level of involvement and interference with animals’ reproductive functioning” (Ethics, n.d.) compared to other conventional production methods. Several religious groups, including Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist faiths, have rejected animal cloning due to their ethical objections to the process. In such faiths, cloning and genetic engineering are viewed as equivalent to “playing God”.

This is a biased opinion since people of such faiths are incorporating their religious values and beliefs into them. Those who would have a more objective approach to the issue are atheists and agnostic scientists. Some responses to this objection are:

    • The objection to “playing God” claims to know what God’s will is concerning scientific advancements such as cloning. However, since ‘key religious texts (e.g., The Bible, or the Qu’ran) make no mention of such advancements, it is presumably impossible to decide what God would have to say about them’ (Manninen, n.d). In other words, inferences about God’s decision on such matters are weak because there is little basis to draw these moral conclusions (Pence, 2008).
    • Those harboring this objection must define exactly what “playing God” means. One possible definition of “playing God” is that anything that “interferes with nature, interferes with God’s plan for mankind, and is hence morally wrong” (Glannon, 2005). But this is too vague; humans continually interrupt nature in ways that are not morally criticized. For example, vaccines against diseases, respirators, and pacemakers interfere with nature in the sense that they stop harmful or fatal afflictions to the human body. 
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Essay on Cloning Controversy. (2024, May 16). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 24, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/essay-on-cloning-controversy/
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