Human clonning: Status and Ethics Hariom Yadav1, Shalini Jain1 and Mukesh Yadav2 1Animal Biochemistry Division, National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal-132001, Haryana, INDIA 2SOS in Chemistry, Jiwaji University, Gwalior-474011, M.P., INDIA Corresponding author: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Early Successes – Human Cloning • 2001 – First cloned human embryos (only to six cell stage) created by Advanced Cell Technology (USA) • 2004* – Claim of first human cloned blastocyst created and a cell line established (Korea) – later proved to be fraudulent *Hwang, W.S., et al. 2004. Evidence of a Pluripotent Human Embryonic Stem Cell Line Derived from a Cloned Blastocyst. Science 303: 1669-1674.
Types of cloning • Recombinant DNA technology DNA/ molecular/ gene cloning • Reproductive cloning Adult DNA cloning • Therapeutic cloning Embryo/ Biomedical cloning
Reproductive cloning uses the cloning procedure to produce a clonal embryo which is implanted in a woman's womb with intent to create a fully formed living child--a clone. Therapeutic cloning uses the cloning procedure to produce a clonal embryo, but instead of being implanted in a womb and brought to term it is used to generate stem cells.
What are the risks of cloning? • Reproductive cloning is expensive and highly inefficient • Cloned animals tend to have more compromised immune function and higher rates of infection, tumor growth, and other disorders • Genomes of cloned mice are compromised, 4% of genes function abnormally • The abnormalities do not arise from mutations in the genes but from changes in the normal activation or expression of certain genes. • A process called "imprinting" chemically marks the DNA from the mother and father so that only one copy of a gene (either the maternal or paternal gene) is turned on. Defects in the genetic imprint of DNA from a single donor cell may lead to some of the developmental abnormalities of cloned embryos.
Why Cloning Humans is Ethically Unacceptable • Controlling Someone Else's Genetic Makeup • Child can reject any aspect of its upbringing, but it could never reject the genes that were chosen for it • Such control by one human over another is incompatible with the ethical notion of human freedom, in the sense of that each individual's genetic identity should be inherently unpredictable and unplanned.
Instrumentality • Cloning raises a number of concerns arising from its consequences, of which instrumentality and risk are of especial importance.
Infertility - an Exception to Instrumentality • An exception to this objection would be the idea of producing a child from an infertile couple by cloning one of them. • But this raises other problems. Instead of being the unique genetic product of both parents, the child is a copy of one of them. • It would not be the biological child of both parents in the normal sense.
Psychological Effects - Identity and Relationship • Would the clone feel that he or she was just a copy of someone else who's already existed and not really themselves? • Am I really someone else but put into a different womb? • What will be my relationship to the one I was cloned from? • No one can predict with any degree of assurance what the response would be.
Physical Risk • To repeat the same thing on humans would be giving both the mother and the potential foetus an unacceptably high risk of damage. • How many abnormal babies would have to be produced to get one right? • Roslin researchers have said that there is no experiment that could be done to prove the safety of human clonig without casuing serious risk to humans in the process.
Social Risk • Human cloning would bring grave risks of abuses to human dignity and exploitation by unscrupulous people.
The current law on human cloning • United Nations On December 12, 2001 the United Nations General Assembly began elaborating an international convention against the reproductive cloning of human beings. Lawrence Goldstein, professor of cellular and molecular medicine at the University of California at San Diego, claims that the United States, unable to pass a national law, forced Costa Rica to start this debate in the UN over the international cloning ban. In February 2005 a vaguely worded and non-binding United Nations Declaration on Human Cloning was finally adopted.
Australia • Australia had prohibited human cloning, though as of December 2006, a bill legalising therapeutic cloning and the creation of human embryos for stem cell research passed the House of Representatives. Within certain regulatory limits, therapeutic cloning is now legal in Australia.
European Union • The European Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine prohibits human cloning in one of its additional protocols, but this protocol has been ratified only by Greece, Spain and Portugal. The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union explicitly prohibits reproductive human cloning, though the Charter currently carries no legal standing. The proposed European Constitution would, if ratified, make the charter legally binding for the institutions of the European Union.
United States • President George W. Bush is opposed to human cloning in any form. Some American states ban both forms of cloning, while some others outlaw only reproductive cloning. • Current regulations prohibit federal funding for research into human cloning, which effectively prevents such research from occurring in public institutions and private institution such as universities which receive federal funding.
1990 – Congress voted to override the moratorium, vetoed by President Bush • 1993 – President Clinton lifted the ban • 1994 – the Human Embryo Research Panel favored research, but Clinton overrode the panel • 1995 – Congress banned federal funding
United Kingdom • The British government introduced legislation in order to allow licensed therapeutic but not reproductive cloning in a debate in January 2001 after an amendment to the Human Embryology Act. • March 2002 and currently therapeutic cloning is allowed under license of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. The first known licence was granted on August 11, 2004 to researchers at the University of Newcastle to allow them to investigate treatments for diabetes, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease.
Right to Life The Declaration of Independence of the United States guarantees “certain unalienable Rights, that among those are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”
Christian Arguments and Response • We may not do evil so that good will result (Romans 3:8) • Humans are created in the image of God before birth • The human soul begins before birth
When Does Ensoulment Occur? • John the Baptist: "For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and he will drink no wine or liquor; and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, while yet in his mother's womb." (Luke 1:15) • Paul: But when He who had set me apart, even from my mother's womb, and called me through His grace… (Galatians 1:15) • Jeremiah: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations." (Jeremiah 1:5)
Murder Defined by the Bible • People are not to be murdered because they are created in the image of God. (Genesis 9:6) • Murder must be intentional, with premeditation (Joshua 20:3) • Killing of embryos is intentional, and premeditated
Biblical Arguments: Summary • The Bible indicates that God recognizes human beings as persons prior to development in the womb • Bible defines murder as being intentional and premeditated • ESC research destroys embryos that are considered as ensouled human beings
Morality of Human Reproductive Cloning • “Be fruitful and multiply” – assumed to be natural, but IVF and cloning not mentioned in the Bible • Problems with cloned animals – most suffer premature aging and other genetic problems. Might be avoidable with better techniques? • Biblical basis to condemn human reproductive cloning?
Is adult human DNA cloning moral? • Some talents seem to be genetically influenced. Musical ability seems to run in families. Cloning using the DNA from the cell of an adult with the desired traits or talents might produce an infant with similar potential. Yes ?
A heterosexual couple in which the husband was completely sterile could use adult DNA cloning to produce a child. An ovum from the woman would be coupled with a cell from the man's body. Both would contribute to the child: the woman would provide the "factory" for creating cells; the man would provide the "genetic information." They might find this more satisfactory than using the sperm of another man. Yes ?
Two lesbians could elect to have a child by adult DNA cloning rather than by artificial insemination by a man's sperm. Each would then contribute part of her body to the fertilized ovum: one woman would donate the ovum, which contains some genetic material in its mitochondria; the other woman the nuclear genetic material. Both would have parts of their bodies involved in the conception. They might find this more satisfactory than in-vitro fertilization using a man's sperm Yes ?
There is no guarantee that the first cloned humans will be normal. The fetus might suffer from some disorder that is not detectable by ultrasound. They may be born disabled. Disorders may materialize later in life. Such problems have been seen in other cloned mammals. There is no reason to assume that they will not happen in humans. No ?
Cells seem to have a defined life span built into them. "Dolly" was created from a cell that was about six years old; this is middle age for a ewe. There were some indications that Dolly's cells were also middle-aged. She was believed to be, in essence, about six years old when she was born. She was expected to live only for five years, which is shorter than the normal life span of 11 years. If this is also true of humans, then cloned people would have a reduced life expectancy. The cloning technique could take many years off their life. [These fears proved to be unfounded. "Dolly" has grown into a comfortable middle age with signs of normal aging for her age.] No ?
Dolly was conceived using a ewe's egg and a cell from another ewe's body. It is noteworthy that no semen from a ram was involved. If the technique were perfected in humans, and came into general usage, then there would be no genetic need for men. All of the human males could be allowed to die off. [The author of this essay is a male and does not think kindly of such a future. However, some readers might not object to this eventuality.] No ?
Large scale cloning could deplete genetic diversity. It is diversity that drives evolution and adaptation. It prevents an entire species from disappearing because of susceptibility to a disease. [It is doubtful that cloning would ever be used at a level to make this a significant threat.] No ?
Some people have expressed concern about the effects that cloning would have on relationships. For example, a child born from an adult DNA cloning from his father would be, in effect, a delayed twin of one of his parents. That has never happened before and may lead to emotional difficulties. No ?
There are religious objections to cloning. • Most pro-life supporters believe that a fertilized ovum is a full human person. When its nucleus is removed during cloning, that person is, in effect, murdered. • A secondary concern is the whole business of collecting surplus embryos and simply storing them in a deep-freeze as a commodity. No ?
Some claim that cloned humans may be born without souls. They speculate that the soul enters the body when a sperm fertilizes an ovum. Since there is no sperm involved in cloning, perhaps the fetus would develop without a soul. There is no way to know whether a soul is present; it has no weight, it cannot be seen, touched, smelled, heard, or detected in any other way. In fact, many people believe that souls do not exist. Speculation on this topic can never be resolved. No ?