The Cloning Technology

The Cloning Technology
VII. Effects of cloning on society
The cloning is very controversial technology that has attracted the
attention of the stakeholders in different fields, especially
psychology, sociology, moral and ethics. Compared to cloning of animals
(such as goats, cows, and dogs), which received little criticism from
the field of psychology, sociology, and moral and ethics, the idea of
cloning human beings has received a substantial objection from the same
fields. According to Sharma (2011) the major source of controversies
from different stakeholders is the perspective of the cloning process.
This means that the advocates of this technology have a role to play in
giving sufficient evidence of how various issues raised through
criticism will be dealt with. Failure to do this, the cloning technology
(including the reproductive cloning) will continue receiving serious
objections from the three areas of psychology, sociology, and moral and
ethics. This section of the paper will address the psychological,
sociological as well as moral and ethical effects of the cloning
technology.
A. Psychological effects of the cloning technology
1. Level of acceptance of the cloning technology
The success of any new technology requires not only the knowledge of the
benefits it is expected to bring, but also the public acceptance. The
cloning technology has been practiced for decades and debates concerning
its psychosocial effects have been increasing with time, especially as a
result of the attempt to clone human beings. The public acceptance of
the cloning technology varies depending on the purpose and the entity
being cloned. Initial cloning of animals began with animals (sheep
Dolly), which received minimum criticism because it was perceived as a
technological breakthrough that would enhance food production and the
field of medical biotechnology Vajta & Gjerris, 2006). However, the
invention of therapeutic and reproductive cloning received objections,
not only from the public, but the government agencies. The protocol
formulated in 1998 to regulate the cloning technology prohibited the
production of reproductive clones and restricted the modification of
human genomes to diagnostic, or preventive purposes (Kfoury, 2007). This
means that therapeutic cloning has a wider acceptance compared to
reproductive cloning.
2. Level of fear
Although the determination of the psychological effects of human cloning
is difficult given the prolonged time frame required to study these
effects, psychologists have forecast several adverse psychological
effects. First, the fact that the cloning technology makes the offspring
to the biological twin the parent might affect the relationship, which
may interfere with psychosocial aspects of the both the cloned offspring
and the parent (Brown, 2002). In addition, the fact that the cloning
technology is accomplished through genetic alterations, might damage the
self image and identity of the cloned offspring when they realize that
they were manufactured and not born in the natural way. The damaging of
self-image and identity of the cloned offspring may affect their mental
and cognitive development throughout their lives. Levick (2004)
identified three aspects of clonal identity that affect them
psychologically in the whole of their lives. These aspects include the
fact of the generic (not natural), being considered a clone of a given
progenitor, and relationship difficulties within the family set-up.
These factors make the clones feel different from the majority, which
reduces their self esteem and capacity to establish a self identity in
the society.
The cloning technology affects the sense of self will and
self-determination of the cloned individuals in adverse ways. According
to Brown (2002) the revelation of the life history of the clone, which
include different aspects such as admirable and deficient features,
success and failures, and other aspects of self enhancement raise
critical questions in the minds of the clones that often undermine their
self-determination. The most common questions asked by the clones
pertain to their qualities, capabilities, and limitations that they may
be subjected to the genetic manipulation. In addition, having the
knowledge that one is a duplicate of the progenitor have a negative
psychological effect because it encourages certain behavior that is
limited by the forebear of the clone’s genes. This results in
psychical relation to behavioral patterns set by the pre-existing donor
of the genes used in cloning. Moreover, research shows that errors in
genetic programming, which are unavoidable, limit the capacity of the
cloned individual to perform equal to the prototype (Roetz, 2006). This
results in the development of indeterminate status, which causes
suffering and distress to the clones. Therefore, reproductive cloning
technology limits the sense of self will and self determination of the
cloned persons.
Apart from the adverse psychological effects of cloning technology on
clones, genetic donors are also seriously affected psychologically.
Therapeutic cloning, which is accomplished by extracting eggs from
female donors, subject the donors to both physical and psychological
stress (Roetz, 2006). The psychological pressure on the gene donor
results from three factors. First, the fertility drugs administered to
donating women have severe side effects that are seen in more that 50 %
of the donors. Despite the benefits associated with the cloning therapy,
the psychological pressure on women makes this new therapeutic
technology gender-biased. Secondly, the large number of oocytes and the
procedure used to obtain them from the donor causes psychological
anxiety. According to Roetz (2006) a successful clone requires 50-100
oocytes from a single donor. Third, the donor of somatic cells may
suffer from psychological nervousness and depression because they are
not aware of the kind of a person the clone may grow to be. This may
also result from the failure of the donor to predict the social
relationship abilities of the anticipated clone with other members of
the family.
B. Effects on quality of life
The cloning technology has both positive and negative effects on quality
of life. Therapeutic cloning gives a promising future to people who are
suffering from serious medical conditions, including osteoporosis and
genetic mutations (Kfoury, 2007). This is because therapeutic cloning
has made it possible for regeneration of important tissues (including
osteoblasts), which are more compatible to recipients compared to
conventional transplanting of tissues obtained from a different donor.
In addition, the cloning technology facilitates the process of
generating animal models for investigation of various diseases affecting
human beings. This improves the treatment outcome as well as the quality
of life of patients.
The cloning technology improves the quality of life of single and
couples who cannot reproduce through sexual means. For example, a male
with low sperm count is given an opportunity to reproduce by
transplanting nuclei that is obtained from other part of the body
(Brown, 2002). This process does not require the genetic input of an
opposite sex partner and result in production of identical twins. In
addition, the cloning process facilitates preservation of genetic
features of the donor without the input of a third party. Moreover, the
cloning technology eliminates the complexities, high expenses, long
time, and pains that result from alternative methods of reproduction
such as artificial cloning and in vitro fertilization. This gives hope
of genetic preservation to sterile and single people in a cheaper, less
complicated way, and within a shorter period of time.
C. Changes in society due to cloning
The success of cloning technology might the society in four different
ways. First, the cloning technology will alter the natural assumption of
a link between sex and procreation. According to The President’s
Council on Bioethics (2002) the natural way of human procreation, which
involves sex between a man and a woman, shapes identities, relations
between one generation to the nest, and enhance the responsibility of
child rearing. This means that the cloning technology will interfere
with the natural practice of child bearing and rearing.
Secondly, the cloning technology interferes with evolution, thus
destroying the natural process of ensuring genetic diversity (Roetz,
2006). This is because cloning enhances genetic uniformity and
increased chances for transmission of diseases from the clone to the
donor, clone to clone, and from animals to clones. The curtailment of
the evolutionary process might result in clones with limited resistance
to disease, thus endangering the future society.
Third, the cloning technology might interfere with the family, which is
a social institution. This technology strengthens the commoditization of
human through genetic manipulation as opposed to the natural way of
establishing a family based on the union of a man and a woman. According
to (Levick, 2004) the cloning technology destroys the romance fantasy
of the family, which defends children from the feeling of being
disillusioned.
D. The Level of information given to the public regarding cloning
The cloning is one of the areas of research that has attracted the
interest of the members of the public who have the urge to know its
progress and potential benefits. The information concerning the outcome
cloning experiments has not been withheld either by the researchers or
responsible government agencies. The availability of the information in
this area of research has provided an opportunity for the members of the
public to air their comments with the objective of strengthening policy
reforms. For example, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) receives
thousands of comments from the public regarding cloning that concerns
organisms that are consumed as Food and Drug Administration (2009). This
means that the public has full access to information concerning cloning
and the right to push for policy reforms in order to refine the field of
research.
VIII. Moral and ethical implications of cloning
The moral perspective of the society with regard to cloning of embryos
depends on the purpose for which the embryos are cloned. The primary
reasons for cloning include the production of children (reproductive
cloning) and production of embryos and stem cells to enhance research
(cloning for research). Consequently, cloning has received varying
levels of acceptance and objections from moral, religious, and ethical
groups. In each category of stakeholders, there are those who support
and those who reject the cloning technology with their moral, religious,
or ethical reasons.
A. Moral issues involved in cloning embryos
The significance of the moral issues raised either against or for the
cloning technology mainly depends on the purpose of cloning. The first
issue that has raised considerable controversy pertains to whether the
cloned embryos have equivalent moral value to embryos that are naturally
fertilized. This is an important moral issue in the context of cloning
for the purpose of biomedical investigations. Individuals and groups
opposing the cloning of embryos for biomedical research suggest that the
cloned embryos have the equivalent moral status of ordinary human (The
President’s Council on Bioethics, 2002). The supporters of this
technology, on the other hand base their arguments on substantial
medical benefits of cloning embryos.
Pregnancy as well as implantation has moral significance that has raised
substantial controversy regarding the cloning of embryos. The debate
results from two reasons one the cloning of embryos requires medical
assistance to facilitate genetic duplication as opposed to sexual
reproduction, which occurs naturally (The President’s Council on
Bioethics, 2002). Secondly, the cloned embryo has no direct connection
with the mother, which denies them the capacity to right to
relationships (established during pregnancy) with humans at early stages
of development.
Embryo cloning that is conducted for the purpose of producing children
raises controversy in two ways. First, it is argued that cloning is the
deliberate production of human beings through asexual means, which may
be considered immoral by some people. Secondly, the cloned embryos exist
in the laboratory, which increase their availability in attempts to
produce artificial pregnancy (The President’s Council on Bioethics,
2002). This implies that the existence of cloned embryos in laboratory
subject them to abuse and destruction at the discretion of researchers.
B. Religious view on cloning
Similar to ethical and moral groups, religious organizations have
different views on the issue of embryo cloning. According to Bainbridge
(2003) religious views on the issue of embryo cloning can be assessed by
dividing religious groups into three categories. First, literalistic
religious groups perceive that cloning is the human attempt to assume
God’s role of creation. This category of religious groups
differentiates human creation from other living things by claiming that
people were created by God’s own hands while other creatures came into
existence by the word of mouth. This implies that it is God’s duty to
create. Secondly, the figurative religious groups support the view that
God intended that human being should come into existence through nature
and not through laboratory experiments. Third, religious groups that
believe in the immortality of soul fail to figure out how the human soul
fit into the cloning technology. The three religious groups oppose the
practice of the cloning technology irrespective the purpose,
reproductive or therapeutic.
The majority of religious groups agrees that human beings should be
brought into existence through the way of love (between a man and a
woman) to be part of family relationship. Children are born to be part
of a stable and protective family unit, which was established by God
through the creation of a man and a woman. Similarly, the reasons given
by researchers who clone for the purpose of medical research on the
grounds that the embryo have not differentiated are opposed by religious
groups because differentiation is a stage in growth leading to a human
being, as opposed to evolution that leads to a different creature.
Therefore, there are no substantial reasons to clone or subject clones
to inhuman treatment.
C. Ethical dilemmas concerning cloning
There are many ethical dilemmas of coning, but four of them are of major
concern to almost all the stakeholders. First, cloning gives a lot of
promises to improve the quality of life through the discovery of new
therapeutic approaches, especially the treatment of genetic defects and
immuno-rejection (Kfoury, 2007). This raises an ethical question if
cloning of human embryo is part of medical advances, are the clone parts
of a family or part of non-human subjects used in laboratory
experiments?
Secondly, the cloning technology the production of more than one embryo
where the excess ones are destroyed while the rest may be exploited in
laboratory experiments (The President’s Council on Bioethics, 2002).
This takes us back to the question of whether the destruction of cloned
embryos amounts to destruction of human beings or do these embryos have
human rights?
Third, the advancement cloning technology aims at producing clones that
will be allowed to live longer and develop in order to produce tissues
and organs for transplant (Kfoury, 2007). The ethical dilemma is whether
the developing clones will be considered as people or crop to harvest
and what will be the public reaction when developing clones are
dissected to extract organ?
Fourth, it is uncertain whether the introduction of clones into the
family set up as offspring will disrupt the conventional family unit. In
addition, given the fact that cloning results in the production of
near-duplicate of the donor (Keiper, 2012), it is uncertain whether this
technology will replace the normal human mating. This is because some
people might want to preserve their genetic makeup or have the exact
duplicate of them.
References
Bainbridge, W. (2003). Religious opposition to cloning. Journal of
Evolution & Technology, 13, 1.
Brown, B. (2002). Human cloning and genetic engineering: The case for
proceeding cautiously. Boston, MA: Suffolk University.
Food and Drug Administration (2009, October 28). Animal & veterinary.
FDA. Retrieved February 2, 2014, from HYPERLINK
“http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/AnimalCloning/ucm05549
1.htm”
http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/AnimalCloning/ucm055491
.htm
Keiper, A. (2012). The new Atlantis. A Journal of Technology & Society,
34, 5-144.
Kfoury, C. (2007). Therapeutic cloning: Promises and issues. Therapeutic
Cloning, 10 (2), 112-120.
Levick, E. (2004). Clone Being: Exploring the Psychological and Social
Dimensions. Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Roetz, H. (2006). Cross-Cultural Issues in Bioethics the Example of
Human Cloning. New York: Rodopi.
Sharma, V. (2011). Human cloning: Perspectives, ethical issues and legal
implications. International Journal of Pharma and Bio Sciences, 2 (1),
28-41.
The President’s Council on Bioethics (2002). Human cloning and human
dignity: An ethical inquiry. Washington, DC: The President’s Council
on Bioethics.
Vajta, G. & Gjerris, M. (2006). Science and technology of farming animal
cloning: State of the art. Animal Production Science, 30, 1-20.
doi:10.1016/j.anireprosci.2005.12.001
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