Sunday, October 2, 2011

Rock On... Cloning

One of my favorite classical novels is Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. It’s a story where Victor Frankenstein creates a superhuman out of body parts to prove that man can manipulate science to transcend natural boundaries. The main underlying premise argues, however, that some scientific endeavors are just better left unfulfilled because the consequences bring more problems than promise. In the same way, I think the cloning of human organs and pets would be a dire case of life imitating art.

As far as scientists in the United States go, I think they have many more practical issues to deal with than in cloning human organs. In general, I am against human cloning of any kind because I believe that desecrates the sanctity of life and opens up a huge Pandora's Box over what could arbitrarily deemed right and wrong. Then again, science is a perpetually progressive field of study that is always looking for the next major breakthrough. But cloning human organs is one step too far.

For instance, one scientific approach involves cloning an exact replica of another person for the sake of having a perfect match if an organ transplant is needed [3]. It sounds like a fantastic idea because it virtually guarantees an individual won’t suffer from the rejection of their own organs, should they need them in an emergency. However, several ethical concerns are raised by this notion. Among others, cloning a human being to harvest back up organs would "violate the clone's individual autonomy and liberty", as well as it's Thirteenth Amendment right to be protected from being treated like a piece of property [3]. Another possible option scientists have looked at is to create genetically modified pigs in order to produce organs suitable for transplant in humans [1]. The problem with this idea is that pigs and humans are not one and the same anatomically. They may closely emulate each other, but pig organs work best with pigs and human organs work best with humans. Whatever their m.o., there’s bound to be more concerns than closure.

On a related issue, I think pet cloning is as absurd as cloning human organs. I love domestic animals, but I'm not a fan of having copies of an original pet. The main reason I disagree with pet cloning is because the animal in question has no say in the process. It's unethical, really. For instance, I have a cat, and if I wanted to replicate him, he can't object and tell me I'm violating his rights. He may hiss and emit blood-curdling screams, but those can be easily misinterpreted by the people looking to clone him.

As it turns out, I'm far from alone in thinking this way. An independent study conducted by the American Anti-Vivisection Society found that 80% of respondents were opposed to pet cloning and 84% objected to companies selling genetically engineered animals as pets [2]. Even though pets are subordinate to humans, they're just as real and don't deserve to undergo a process that does little, if any, long-term benefit to anyone.

Not only are cloned pets controversial, they carry a hefty price tag, too. Some go for up to $50,000 [2]. I think if I were to spend that much money to keep a pet from my past, I probably have unresolved psychological issues only a professional counselor can correct.

In the end, cloning of pets, like the cloning of human organs, is a novel idea that's better off a rough draft in the minds of inquisitive scientists.

(Academic) Works Cited
[1] "Cloning Fact Sheet." Human Genome Project Information. U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, 11 May 2009. Web.

[2] "Ethics." American Anti-Vivisection Society, n.d. Web.

[3] Hilmert, Laura J. "Cloning Human Organs: Potential Sources and Property Implications." Indiana Law Journal, Vol. 77 (363). Pp. 363-386. Web.

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