Reproductive Cloning Pros and Cons List

Reproductive cloning is a process that has been around for a long time. A tadpole was cloned as far back as 1952. A decade later, an Asian carp was successfully cloned. But it was the successful cloning of Dolly the Sheep in 1996 that made waves around the world for she was the first mammal to be created using the procedure.

Ever since, a number of mammals have been cloned – cows, pigs, cats and rhesus monkeys. Even an extinct animal, the Pyrenean ibex, was successfully cloned in 2009. However, the creature ended up short lived as it died just seven minutes after being born.

What happens in reproductive cloning is that a duplicate copy of another organism is made. A process called somatic cell nuclear transfer, where the nucleus of a somatic cell is extracted and inserted into an egg that’s had its nucleus removed. The egg begins dividing and growing once it is stimulated then it develops into an embryo which can be implanted into a gestational surrogate where it will be carried to term.

While the practice has been successful on certain mammals, it is still a hotly debated topic in terms of the human species. As such, some nations have banned human cloning because of the ethical issues that might arise. Concerns have been raised even in animals as doubters worry about the implications of using a cloned animal in the food supply.

List of Pros of Reproductive Cloning

1. It can help same-sex couples have children without resorting to donors
Couples in a same-sex relationship who yearn to have children of their own often look to donors or adoption. Then there is the issue of surrogacy which adds more costs into the process. However, with reproductive cloning, same-sex couples no longer have to seek such methods because they can have a child that is truly their own.

2. It allows couples to replicate the child they lost
There are many reasons for children dying young, be it from illness or from a tragic accident. The pain of losing a child is a burden that parents struggle with for months and even years. But with cloning, parents can get the exact same child by having genetic material from the first cloned.

3. It can save animals from extinction
As mentioned earlier, scientists were able to clone an extinct animal, the Pyrenean ibex. The animal is a form of wild mountain goat that was declared officially extinct in 2000 with the last known of its kind was found dead in northern Spain. However, scientists were able to preserve skin samples from the goat before it died. They used that material to create a clone but sadly it died shortly after it was born.

Just like other cloned animals, the ibex presented health problems like physical defects in its lungs. Dolly the Sheep had to be put down when she was six years old because she suffered from progressive lung disease and severe arthritis.

List of Cons of Reproductive Cloning

1. It eliminates the idea of individuality
A clone is an exact replica of someone either living or dead. The sense of uniqueness, which is integral to the human race, is eliminated in clones. Although twins are essentially clones, they formed through a natural process rather than an artificial one.

2. It is not an entirely successful procedure
As mentioned earlier, clones tend to have several health issues. According to scientific studies, only 5% of those cloned under clinical conditions have been considered successful.

3. It is a procedure with ethical concerns
Although human cloning is not yet possible, concerns have been raised about “playing God,” especially by religious groups. On the medical side, concerns raised include life expectancy as cloned mammals only show a low success rate.