Cloning and its future

Sep 02

First of all let’s understand what is cloning. Cloning is the act of reproducing without actually going through the biological action of sperm and egg fertilizing to form an embryo. In this natural process there is always an element of surprise making the end product, the offspring, different. The offspring has genetic material from both parents. In cloning, genetic material of a single parent is used. Thus it is some kind of “asexual” reproduction.

To go into the depth of cloning, we have to understand the process. In cloning a single cell with a particular DNA is taken. It is made to fertilize with an egg whose DNA is removed. This fertilized egg is now forced to grow like an embryo. The end product which results from this is an off spring with similar qualities to single cell parent. Thus the offspring becomes an exact replica of the single parent.

The first successful experiment of cloning was done in 1996, and the end product was the sheep named Dolly. Since then a number of animals like horses, cats and dogs have been cloned. As we can see with new advances in science there are both advantages and disadvantages. What are the implications of cloning in future?

With cloning of animals in future, food production could get affected. By ensuring controlled environment for animal reproduction it could turn into a biological factory. It is expected that the cloned meat thus produced could feed the people of the world. This would reduce the dependence on live stock and reduce green house pollution. Milk and meat from cloned animals is assumed to be safe for human consumption. In 2006 the US administration allowed for cloned animals to be part of the livestock. The only issue with this is, any wrong genetic makeup in this could affect hundreds of future cloned animals and the human beings who would consume them.

In the area of human cloning, advances in organ transplants is seen. Similar organ tissues could be grown in labs and used in operations. Cloning of a human being itself means meddling with the genetic makeup. This would change the very essence of being a human being. The biggest advantage is that it is seen as a process of getting kids for the infertile couples.

Thus the real effects of cloning are still to be seen and observed. It is too early to tell whether they will be positive or negative. Till then, the suspense continues.

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