CLONING: A NEW FRONTIER OF SCIENCE
Scientists have been experimenting on cloning of sheep and cow from embryo, for the last many years. A clone is an organism that is genetically identical to another. This experiment was successfully carried out by a group of scientists led by Ian Wilmut at the Roslin Institute of Edinburg, Scotland. The iamb so created was named Dolly. Dolly was not produced by the fusion of sperm of the male and egg of her female in natural way. Ian Wilmut took a mammary cell from an adult sheep and prepared its DNA. He then removed the egg’s owned DNA replacing it with DNA from the adult sheep by fusing the egg with the adult cell. It was a notable experiment sine the explosion of the first atomic bomb.
The experiment with the technique of cloning from an adult mammal cell is a landmark in itself for creation of Dolly. Technique is still far from perfect. Out of277 udder cells and eggs, only 29 eggs grew into embryos and only 13 surrogate mother sheep become pregnant and just one gave birth. The major problem, however, is to undertake serious testing with a view to concluding that this technique holds good in case of the clone from an adult mammal cell only or from the clone of other parts of the body. Another important point to remember about this experiment is that the sheep is the only animal suitable for cloning by an adult mammal cell, being slow in developing embryos while some other animals begin very rapid embryo development thus unsuited to this technique.
The technique of cloning is very useful for dairy industry with bigger impact than the introduction of’ artificial insemination’ that has revolutionized dairy farming in 1950. Cloning can also be used by researchers in developing therapies to treat such human diseases as are common to humans and animals. It could also be to alter the protein on the surface of big organ, like liver and heart and make them suitable to transplant into humans.
In this context, Dr. Wilmut himself has warned that the technique being inefficient, involved the birth of defective animals—hence erroneous at this stage to use it more particularly to transplant in humans. In his words, “it would be quite inhuman to use the technique on humans” any way to clone them.
As there was some speculation regarding cloning of humans. European parliament has sought a ban on cloning humans. A British Advisory Commission has been asked to review the ethical and legal issues associated with the development in technology and report back.
An announcement by a Chicago based scientist Richard Seed that he would work to create a clinic, cloning500 babies a year. He claimed that cloning humans would be a technical advance that will eventually extend human life and enhance civilization. But UNESCO adopted on January 17, 1998, a declaration denouncing human cloning. Almost all experts were also unanimous about helping infertile couples to overcome their genetic problem through time-tested ethical techniques. Human cloning if allowed would be undertaken with a great deal of unease.
US President Bill Clinton has already proposed banning such research for five years, describing it as ‘morally unaccepted’ and possibly leading to undermining society’s respect for human life. Legislation to this effect is pending with the US Congress. Meanwhile, Clinton has banned use of federal funds for human cloning and has also urged the private sector to retain from such research.