Animal Cloning Could Be Beneficial
Ian Wilmut (embryologist for the Roslin Institute in Scotland) is the man who led the team of scientists that produced the world famouse cloned sheep Dolly. His collaborator in this essay is Keith Campbell, a cell biologist and embryologist who worked with Wilmut on the Dolly project. This essay, which is taken from their book The Second Creation: Dolly and the Age of Biological Control, was written to prove to us that cloning in animals could be beneficial and perhaps even necessary to our modern world.
Wilmut and Campbell go to interesting lengths to prove their findings. While I can agree that this essay raises several good points and is thought provoking, there are several issue I would like to address regarding their concept of worldly benefit. In doing this I hope to convince my readers that there is not yet enough evidence to warrant such a large expenditure in this particular field of science.
In their first paragraph Wilmut and Campbell address the new found freedom from limitation that cloning has enjoyed. They attribute this to the rise in curiosity among today’s people and seem to feel that such popularity has imbued them with a right to push forward and discover what measure of control’ is now granted over the life process. While the authors casually make comment on the concept of power corrupting (and absolute power corrupting absolutely) it seems to me as though this is added to put the reader at ease. The following sentence assures me of this as it reads “Yet our decendants will find themselves with power that seems limited only by their imagination.”
The third paragraph presented to me a concept I found understandable, but still flawed. Wilmut and Campbell as scientists have an obviouse concern over the use of inbreeding laboratory animals in order to secure uniform data. Inbreeding in any species causes defects which can mess with research (in this case drug research is mentioned qith affirmative singularity). While it is understandable that they want to procure the same results over a wide test range, I find it ethically unsound to say that cloning is a justifiable means of doing this. By cloning a single animal, or even a dozen animals and using them to test anything, you are essentially testing the same animal over and over again in order to secure the results you want. It removes the entire scientific process from the equation. Is cloning preferable to inbreeding? Not really no. It may be statistically sound, but in actually the defects caused by inbreeding or inherited traits from two unrelated parents would might mirror the same diversity humans contain. I feel that this would give more realistic results, if not very funding friendly ones.
In paragraph six, the authors begin to address the benefits cloning could have for livestock. Seeing as how much of the world is overpopulated and underfed, I seriously considered this paragraph and a positive. Surely if something was going to convince me that animal cloning would be beneficial it would be solving world hunger! Yet I still found problems with Wilmut and Campbell’s data. In regard to their idea of artificially inseminating cows with ready-madeeliteembryos’ from a single steer you may succeed in increasing a herds yield. But you also substantially decrease their value. A good bull is worth so much because he can be sold (or traded temporarily) to stud out in the field. The farmer is paid accordingly for the favor of letting his good bull impregnate an entire field of cows. Now if one takes the bull and clones it, and then uses that embryo to impregnate hundred to thousands of female cows, not only does the bull become obsolete, but you now have an entire heard of bulls that are only good for one thing. Breeding more bulls! That is while a farmer may have twenty to sixty cows in a field and only one bull to service them all. You don’t need any more. For that matter what kind of effect would constant breeding have on the animals. Would their lifespan be shorter due to over production?
In their final paragraphs entitled Cloning for Conservation, the authors seem to be making an attempt to reach out to the liberal minded conservationists. They site the deplorable number of species that are rapidly vanishing from the planet as well as the loss to the species themselves that not all genes are being passed on from parents to offspring. As a believer in the environment, I truly do sympathize. However, assuming they intend to use the same means as with the cows to procure offspring from endangered animals I wonder if they are aware of the low success rate zoos have with AI on captive animals. Now let us assume they don’t. Lets assume that in fifty years’ technology advances and they can bring from a test tube a fully grown orangutan. As hard as it is to say this, with the rate the planet is going at, in fifty years time I doubt there will be a place for an orangutan outside of a zoo. Then all we have done is ignore Darwinism for our own petty amusements. I can hear the Jurassic park theme music ringing in my ears.
In conclusion, I would like to honestly credit Wilmut and Campbell for bringing to light several ideas I hadn’t considered. Still the essay leaves a lot to be desired. What I find most uncomfortable is the author’s arrogance in assuming that cloning is a one way ticket to a perfect (or at the very least substantially better) world. I do feel that cloning may some day provide the world with solutions to some of our problems but this article has not convinced me that today’s scientists are ready to take that step whether it be in regard to human or animal cloning.
“Animal Cloning Could Be Beneficial.”Opposing Viewpoints: Cloning. Tamara L. Roleff. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2006. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Thomson Gale. Ohio Link Clark State CC. 23 Jan. 2008