Scientific Debate (Cloning Edition)

THIS MONTH'S
SCIENTIFIC DEBATE

THIS HOUSE BELIEVES THAT CLONING SHOULD BE BANNED

By Aditya Kapur and Akshat Chhajer

JANUARY 2017

According to the Manataka American Indian Council,  “animal cloning is the process by which an entire organism is reproduced from a single cell taken from the parent organism and in a genetically identical manner”. Therefore, the cloned animal is an exact copy of its parent as it has the same DNA arrangement as that of the parent organism. This process is known as artificial twinning of an embryonic cell is a more widely used method for cloning. Previously,scientists used to employ the method of somatic cell nuclear transfer,a process which required a surrogate method for cloning.

FOR THE MOTION - ADITYA

“Cloning represents a very clear, powerful, and immediate example in which we are in danger of turning procreation into manufacture.”
-Leon Kass, American Scientist

For centuries, science has served as a catalyst for change and a means of exploration and discovery for the human race. It also serves an extremely important role in our ever changing world-a protector of the environment and the living species that live in this environment. To truly fulfil this role, it is necessary to curb certain activities that are fundamentally against this goal of science. A prime example is the cloning of animals, which I believe must be banned in order to uphold our moral and ethical values and ensure all progress is scientifically viable.

These problems which cloning present can be categorised into the biological problems and the ethical ones. A pressing issue with regard to the cloning of animals is that of the number of embryos that survive the cloning process in comparison to those that do not. A study has noted that of all the cloning procedures that have been initiated, only 24.7% have led to successful pregnancies. Of these pregnancies, only 19.3% are calved (the new organism is born) and only 77.4% stay alive. Thus, the number of organisms born which remain alive is just a small fraction of the cloning procedures initiated. The risk which the embryos are being placed on and the odds against a successful cloning procedure are two of the primary reasons they must be banned.

The process of cloning has not yet reached a point where we as humans can fully control the processes behind it.The result of this has been catastrophic. It has been observed that cloned animals have a higher probability of getting birth defects and physiological abnormalities such as defects in the heart, liver or brain as well as adverse effects on the immune system of the organism. What has also been observed (Dolly the sheep is the most well known example) is that cloned organisms have shorter life spans due to smaller cells in their bodies.These smaller cells do not allow cell division and thus these cells die,leading to a smaller life span for the organism, which is disastrous if cloning were to become a widespread process of reproduction in animals.

Another question we need to ask ourselves is:Is cloning of animals even necessary? How helpful will it truly be? It hangs on low odds and high risks,and it serves a very small purpose. Will it truly help in the progress of science?

Lastly, I would like to end my debate by discussing the ethical reason why animal cloning should not be allowed. The sheer cruelty of hanging numerous lives on the line,leaving these potential lives dependent on a process which is not natural or completely reliable highlights the reason why we do not need to clone animals to progress in the scientific field. Our focus must be on improving people’s and animals’ lives across the globe, not to ruin them in the name of research and development.

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Dolly the sheep, the world's first cloning test
AGAINST THE MOTION - AKSHAT

The argument present here has been divided into three constructives. First, being the role of cloning in the larger spectrum of science, second being the immense possibilities of this technique and lastly answering the question of ‘ethics’.

The ‘goal of science’ as explained by the proposition is essentially to explain and understand the nature and the world's existence as a whole. Now, animal cloning is a concept where the existing knowledge of science is used to give birth something new, an organism, thus it pushes further the boundaries which already exist in the field of biology and science as a whole. Therefore, in absolutely no way animal cloning is against the ultimate goal of science which stands on the pillars of exploration and experimentation.

In a scenario where certain animals are on the verge of extinction, this technique will actually help us preserve the biodiversity and the integrity of our planet earth. Animal cloning will further boost the population of endangered species whose rate of reproduction is very less and may also help animals to adapt to the ever changing environments.

Moreover this will also contribute to various other fields such as agriculture and drug production. Not only can the best traits be perpetuated but farm animals could also be used as “machines” for large-scale production of medically important proteins. Dolly, a transgenic cloned lamb, is an example which was enthusiastically shared by the proposition. She is able to produce milk containing factor IX — the protein that is deficient in haemophiliacs.

Animal cloning is in fact, the initial step towards the progress and evolution of humans. Stem cells are used cure many diseases and build and repair body tissues. With the time and money spent on stem cell research, animal cloning might be able to be used to aid in the process. If done successfully on animals, scientists and mankind might be looking at a future where stem cells in humans can be cloned to produce identical stem cells for specific people for future use.

As discussed by proposition, the odds of a successful cloning might be significantly low. However, It must be understood that this is a process which is in its early stages. It is a beginning of something that might revolutionise the field of science, therefore one can expect the irregularities. The fact that the humans are not able to fully control the technique, does not mean that it should stopped, in fact it is all the more reason that it should be further worked upon. Moreover what we think is ethical today, we may not have thought ethical five or 10 years ago.

Cloning could lead to remarkable medical advancements and might open doors to unimaginable developments in the field of science. And it would be a shame for mankind to not to pursue this technique on the sole basis of not being ‘ethical’ knowing for a fact that it could be much accepted in the coming future.