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Arguments Against Playing God in Terms of Cloning

Arguments Against Playing God in Terms of Cloning

A clone refers to one or more offspring derived from a single ancestor, whose genetic composition is identical to that of the ancestor. Clones have no choice but to have the same genes as their single parent. A clone of cells refers simply to the descendants of a single parental cell. Members of a clone are genetically identical and genetic identity has given cloning an additional more technical meaning: namely the procedures used to create a new organism whose genetic constitution is a replica of another existing individual. Such a feat can be achieved by substituting the nucleus, which contains the genes, from one of the cells making up that individual's body, for the nucleus of a fertilised egg.

Since our genes dictate to a large extent what we look like, how we behave and what we can and cannot do, having identical genes, as identical twins do, ensures something more than mere similarity. Clones traverse the cinema screen as crowds of dehumanised humans destined for monotonous drudgery, as invincible armies of lookalikes from outer space, as replicas of living megalomaniacs and, in the ultimate fantasy, as the resurrected dead - troupes of little Hitlers and herds of rampaging dinosaurs. Of course, this is science fiction. Nonetheless there is just a whiff of plausibility, a whisker of scientific credibility; enough to plant an indelible vision of what might be, or even what could be the future of cloning. The word 'clone' comes from the Greek klwn, meaning twig, and there is a very good reason for this. For example, every chrysanthemum plant you buy at a Garden Centre is a clone of some distant and probably long dead chrysanthemum which once supplied a side-shoot for rooting. Likewise, whenever you divide an overgrown shrub or successfully cultivate a houseplant cutting you are cloning. In each case you are deliberately propagating a copy of the parent, and eventually over successive years and many hours in the greenhouse, producing a multitude of plants (clones) all genetically identical to the prized parent.

So it is easy to understand why the arrival earlier this year of Dolly, the sheep developed from an egg whose own genes had been replaced by those from an adult udder cell, was seen as the first incarnation of a sinister future. Dolly was a clone of the sheep (her genetic mother) who provided the...

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