What’s next after cloning sheep?

editorial cartoon by Stephanie Lesniak
editorial cartoon by Stephanie Lesniak

Imagine, an exact copy of you, a twin brother or sister who is not only identical in looks to you, but in genetic make-up as well. A scary thought, or is it now a reality?

Last Sunday’s announcement that an adult mammal, a sheep, had been cloned from another in Scotland has raised many questions among American society and the rest of the world, questions that have even perplexed President Clinton as he ordered the formation of an advisory board on Monday to deal with the questions brought out by this discovery.

The discovery of the cloning process in animals was announced by officials from the Roslin Institute in Roslin, Scotland and has raised the possibility of actually cloning an adult human subject. This idea has so far been addressed in many ways, through journals and newspapers, but is definitely a dilemma that is being carefully looked at. The main item of debate is the moral issue dealing with cloning. When the cloning process finally is expanded to deal with human subjects, will it be morally right? Most people disagree, arguing that by tampering with cells through genetic engineering we will be closer to playing God than making improvements to humans.

Although the idea of cloning people is still a new concept, one thing is apparently clear, we as a society are definitely not ready to deal with this discovery, from both the legal and moral standpoints. Clinton’s advisory board might help this problem, but no board or committee can tell us what is right and wrong when dealing with our values.

From one standpoint, scientists are excited with the idea of genetic cloning in domesticated farm animals, such as milk producing cows and egg producing hens, hoping that the new process of cloning will help these resources become more abundant. Most people believe, however, that this process is too scary and much too powerful of an idea to become a part of our applied science process.

Dr. Bob Neher, chair of the University of La Verne Biology Department, believes that although cloning has worked in the plant and agricultural world for many years and is not a new application, it will be virtually impossible to work in a human society. He went on to explain that there is only so far we can go with genetic engineering and that regulating its use will be an impossible task for our society.

Most scientists would argue with Dr. Neher’s point by justifying this process as a necessary progression of science and that no progression that will help people should be ignored, but human cloning should still be seen as a bad idea for society and its values. Will we allow this process to occur? No, and here is why. There are just too many unanswered questions and we as a society are inadequately equipped to deal with the ramifications of the cloning process as a whole.

Maybe scientists should concentrate on curing current humans illnesses by helping to kill such diseases as AIDS and cancer instead of trying to duplicate them. When speaking of our genetics we should be proud as a society of our right to be individuals, after all, isn’t that what our country is all about? No matter how many scientists agree with cloning and no matter how far the genetic engineering process goes, we must realize that to honor our Constitution and keep the values of individualism we must never let something like cloning humans occur in this world.

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Unsigned editorials represent the opinion of the Campus Times Editorial Board.

Stephanie Lesniak
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