Given that scientists can now use scientific processes to successfully clone animals, is it ethical to allow the use of this technology for the benefit of human society?

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Introduction


Types of Animal Cloning 

Pet Cloning

Many pet owners may be encouraged to clone their own pets due to various reasons. Pet owners may see animal cloning as a way to ease their grief upon the loss of a beloved pet. To humans, pets may not merely be an animal living in the same surroundings as their owners, but instead may feel like a best friend and life-long companion. With the use of animal cloning, this fear of losing a beloved pet may soon be gone as the same identical pet can be replicated (Mathews). Animal cloning can also lead to the creation of desirable pets, taking away traits of harm such as inborn genetic diseases and replacing them with favored traits. 

There are many reasons as to why pet owners might advocate for pet cloning. However, there are also many reasons some people oppose pet cloning. Firstly, many clones do not portray identical traits to the original organism. Although clones may share the same genetic makeup as the original organism, the environment and a mechanism in genetics known as X inactivation play a crucial role in shaping the looks and behavior of the clone (“Cloning Fact Sheet”). Second, the mortality rate of cloned animals is relatively high. Scientists have cited cloning as an inefficient technology as the survival rate of clones are as low as 0.5 – 4.0% (“Separating Facts from Fluff”). This may lead to ethical dilemmas where questions similar to those raised about abortion are raised: do clones in early developmental stages count as single living organisms? In addition, cloned animals are found to suffer significant health problems and physical deformities even if they end up surviving. 

Under the autonomy realm of ethics, although animals are not humans, they are still considered to be a living organism with their own mind. Questions must be raised when discussing the ethics behind the invasive nature of implantation, the use of surrogate mothers, and injecting hormones into those surrogate mothers. When surrogate mothers are giving birth to an implanted embryo clone, a cesarean section for delivery is required 54% of the time (Regoli). It is inhumane and unjustified to forcefully impregnate an organism and then forcefully require cesarean section upon the organism. 

Cloning of Military Dogs

Another type of animal cloning worth considering is military dogs. These military dogs play an important role in many bomb detection, narcotic investigation and combat uses. As it is proven to be difficult to uncover elite military K-9, places such as The Sooam Biotech Research Foundation in South Korea are already cloning their best achieving police and military dogs to ensure they always have a plethora of elite dogs ready for action. I have actually visited this exact lab in Korea which is why this project is so personal to me!

“Some dogs are genetically predisposed to be superstars.” “We are looking for the top 1%,” says John Brannon, a trainer in Pennsylvania working with the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation (Gamel). This idea was brought to attention during the attacks of the World Trade Centre when many beloved police dogs failed to survive and has ever since been an ongoing project of many foundations. 

Although the same ethical concerns regarding animal cloning apply to the cloning of military dogs, I believe that humans should be given the opportunity to clone top military dogs to benefit the army and police force. As stated previously, these K-9s require special talent and there are only a select few in every army that can qualify for these important roles. In addition, the breeding and training programs for these dogs are costly and inefficient. The Department of Defense stated that only 50% of K-9s are suitable for the job (Gamel). Due to these K-9s playing a vital part in our society, as they save lives and help to fight crime, I believe that the use of animal cloning for military and police purposes can be condoned through restricted measures.

How Do the Bioethical Principles Come Into Play?

 

Conclusion: What Can/Should Be Done?

With the continual technological advancements in society, it is inevitable that the human race will continue to find ways to ‘perfect’ society. Animal cloning is slowly becoming more of a reality in our everyday lives and it may soon become a process that anyone with money can have access to and reap the benefits of. To answer my research question, I believe that it is ethical to use animal cloning technology, but only in specific circumstances.

I believe that animal cloning should only be used when it can benefit the human race as a whole. This occurs when cloning K-9 dogs. However, when it comes to cloning pets, I believe that cloning for the purpose of relieving grief is unjustified and unfair. Perhaps the use of pet cloning will make our society happier but it is selfish for the human race to ignore the fact that animals are also living organisms who have minds of their own. Although communication between animals and humans is not possible, we should not be allowed to clone animals without their consent. We have a responsibility to respect the autonomy of animals as they are also living beings. 

As such, I believe animal cloning must be strictly regulated by the government. These regulations can include the requirement of thorough risk assessments before a cloning procedure. Furthermore, sponsors of research involving cloned animals should be required to submit a research plan/proposal that needs to be approved before research begins. This would help ensure animals are not exposed to an unreasonable and significant risk of illness or injury and that the study is being conducted in accordance with the protocols set forth by the government. Lastly, the government could focus on better educating the public on the ethical issues and consequences that may arise from pet cloning. This would cause citizens to think more carefully about the reasons they wish to clone their pet, causing them to make better informed decisions and not spontaneous ones.

Questions to Answer in the Comments!

  1. To what extent should use of technology for animal cloning be allowed?
  2. Should animal cloning be regulated or completely outlawed?
  3. Who is responsible for regulating the process of animal cloning? The government? Private agencies?
  4. Do you think that the cloning of animals is ethical?

Bibliography

American Veterinary Medical Association. “The ethics debate over animal cloning.” American Veterinary Medical Association, https://www.avma.org/javma-news/2007-02-15/ethics-debate-over-animal-cloning. 

Animal Cloning: “Understanding Animal Research.” Understanding Animal Research, 7 Aug. 2020, www.understandinganimalresearch.org.uk/animals/areas-research/animal-cloning/. 

Center for Food Safety. “Center for Food Safety | Issues | | Animal Cloning.” Center for Food Safety, https://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/issues/302/animal-cloning/animal-welfare-258.

“Cloning Fact Sheet.” Genome.gov, 15 Aug. 2020, www.genome.gov/about-genomics/fact-sheets/Cloning-Fact-Sheet. 

“Dog Cloning: Consider Pros, Cons before Deciding to Copy Your Dog.” Dog’s Best Life, 20 Feb. 2019, dogsbestlife.com/home-page/dog-cloning/. 

Fiester, Autumn “Ethical Issues in Animal Cloning” Repository.upenn.edu, 14 Oct. 2020, https://repository.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1034&context=bioethics_papers.

Fridovich-Keil, Judith L.. “Dolly”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 3 Dec. 2020.

Keefer, Carol L. “Artificial Cloning of Domestic Animals.” PNAS, National Academy of Sciences, 21 July 2015, www.pnas.org/content/112/29/8874. 

KIM GAMEL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 25, 2016. “Pet-Cloning Lab in S. Korea Starts Military Dog Program.” Stars and Stripes, 25 Aug. 2015, www.stripes.com/news/pet-cloning-lab-in-s-korea-starts-military-dog-program-1.425640. 

“Pet Cloning: Separating Facts from Fluff” Aavs.org, 16 Feb. 2005 https://aavs.org/cms/assets/uploads/2014/08/aavs_report_pet-cloning-facts-fluff.pdf?x82509. 

Regoli, Natalie. “24 Animal Cloning Pros and Cons.” ConnectUS, 26 Nov. 2018, connectusfund.org/24-animal-cloning-pros-and-cons. 

ResearchGate. “Ethical concerns in Animal Cloning: Possible Risks and Assessment.” ResearchGate, 1 Dec. 2019, www.researchgate.net/publication/339446339_Ethical_concerns_in_Animal_Cloning_Possible_Risks_and_Assessment. 

Masci, David. “20 years after Dolly the sheep’s debut, Americans remain skeptical of cloning.” Pew Research Center, 22 Feb. 2017, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/02/22/20-years-after-dolly-the-sheeps-debut-americans-remain-skeptical-of-cloning/.

1 Comments

1 comment

  1. Hello Kristen!
    I loved your catalyst project! I think that it was such a great idea to include an infographic to give a general overview of what animal cloning actually is. I believe animal cloning to be unethical because like you mentioned in your project it is important to respect the autonomy of animals. I think that it should be regulated for the sake of preserving endangered animal species. Overall, I think that you gave a very detailed overview of your chosen research question. I learned a lot and I am so glad that you chose to bring awareness to this topic. Great job!

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