Cloning has been surrounded by much controversy since the moment it was first introduced by scientists many years ago. At the time this article is published, cloned meat has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be sold in grocery stores and consumed by people. Therapeutic cloning, meanwhile, has gone a long way in helping treat various kinds of diseases.
So What Really Is Cloning?
Cloning refers to the process of creating copies of a biological matter that are genetically identical to each other. This is in terms of cells, tissues, genes, or the entire organism.
There are several types of cloning:
- molecular cloning
- organism cloning
- therapeutic cloning
Molecular Cloning, also referred to as gene cloning, is the process of creating identical copies of the DNA molecules.
Organism Cloning involves creation of an identical copy of an entire organism. This is also called reproductive cloning.
Therapeutic Cloning refers to the cloning of human embryos to produce stem cells needed for treatment of diseases. The embryos produced are also destroyed in the process.
To clone an animal, DNA is removed from one of the cells. It is then placed in the egg cell of a female animal. The clone egg is implanted in the womb of the female animal. The implanted egg will grow and develop like a normal animal. Since this is a complicated scientific procedure done in the lab, success rate is low. Most of the clone animals die even before they are born. Dolly, the first success in animal cloning, was a sheep born in 1996. After that, clone animals in the form of cats, mice, pigs, goats, and monkeys have been developed.
As mentioned earlier, animals are now also being cloned for human consumption. The FDA declared that the meat and milk coming from cloned animals are safe to be consumed by people. This paved the way for cloned animals to get into the U.S. food market. Bruce I. Knight, Under Secretary for marketing and regulatory programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture said that the food products derived from cloned animals are not in any way different from those that come from traditionally bred animals.
Human cloning, which is also called therapeutic cloning, is the most controversial type of all. The controversy arises from the fact that embryos developed for the procedure are destroyed afterwards. Scientists do this by transferring genes from one organism to another to replicate them. There is much debate on whether to continue this type of cloning for the purpose of medical treatment and advancements or ban it altogether.