Cloning is the technique of creating a cell or an organism that is genetically identical to the original. The word “clone,” which was first coined by Herbert J. Webber, comes from the Ancient Greek word “klōn” which implies “twig,” and refers to the process of developing a new plant from an existing one.
Making a genetically identical replica of a human is known as human cloning. The practice of replicating human cells and tissue is known as artificial human cloning and is where the phrase is most frequently used. It doesn’t relate to identical twins being conceived and born naturally.
Dolly, a sheep, was the first mammal to be artificially cloned in July 1996 using an adult cell as the genetic source.
TYPES OF CLONING
There are three different types of human cloning. The methods are –
- Therapeutic cloning: This form of cloning involves the cloning of human embryos in order to obtain stem cells that can be used in experiments or to treat diseases.
- Reproductive cloning: This form of cloning involves creating a genetically identical duplicate of another person or animal. The genetic makeup of the cloned child is identical to that of the donor or parent.
- Gene Cloning – This type of cloning refers to a standard procedure which is used by researchers to replicate or duplicate a certain gene in the labs.
ADVANTAGES OF HUMAN CLONING
- The technique of cloning can help reverse human ageing. Each cloned bodily cell is a completely new cell. It is an exact duplicate of the current cell. Cloning cells and implanting them into the human body would result in the regeneration of the human body and extend the lifespan of humans.
- Many times, organ transplantation fails since the body refuses to accept the new organ. In these cases, cloning that organ would be of great efficiency.
- Cloning can give a chance to infertile couples to have children.
- With the use of cloning, reconstructive and cosmetic surgery could be enhanced. Because the materials required in cosmetic surgery are new to the human body, it might be unsafe.
- Cloning can be primarily used to treat diseases that are incurable. A “big killer globally” is a disease of cancer. If we can understand how “cells divide into distinct kinds of tissue and how malignant cells lose their differentiation,” we might be able to treat cancer.
DISADVANTAGES OF HUMAN CLONING
- There are a variety of repercussions and ramifications of human cloning that have not yet been uncovered. Since this is a relatively new area of study that is still being investigated, it is impossible to anticipate with certainty what emotional, social, and medical effects it may have. Additionally, research and testing are still not necessary before starting something as extreme as human cloning.
- Cell division, which has been shown to result in new and more violent genetic abnormalities emerging inside humans and causing a number of complications, is one of the potential concerns associated with human cloning. In fact, a lot of individuals believe that such an event would spell the end of humanity.
- Human cloning can result in cell mutations, which are also very likely even though the procedure employs the recipient’s organ’s cells. The cell composition of the original tissue and the duplicated tissue will be significantly altered as a result. This can cause problems of organ rejection.
- Cloning humans exposes us to undiscovered illnesses. Additionally, we must keep in mind that cloning destroys the uniqueness of each person, which is what makes mankind beautiful. Not to mention, it will reduce uncertainty and favour forecasts.
- Due to discrimination based on race, religion, or social standing, there is already a significant gap in society today. This difference would expand once human cloning will become reality. Now there will also be discrimination based on human clones and non-clones.
- The fundamental goal of reproductive cloning is to produce offspring of a certain sort, which raises moral concerns about it. It is comparable to other types of genetic engineering in this regard when parents try to choose the characteristics of their offspring, such as their gender, eye colour, and one day maybe even their intelligence, athletic skill, and musical talent.
- The urge to influence the genetic makeup of one’s progeny leads to the core ethical problem. Reproductive cloning is morally problematic not because it is asexual, but because it challenges the idea that children are gifts rather than objects, objects of our choice, or instruments of our enjoyment.
- It’s very likely that you’ll have multiple embryos that are malformed. It’s possible that this will cause a sharp rise in abortions and miscarriages.
- Given that clones are not created through sexual reproduction, do they have parents? Who is in charge of looking after the clone? Whether or not a clone could ever become self-sufficient raises another ethical concern.
HUMAN CLONING – SITUATION IN INDIA
India created a successful buffalo clone, ushering in the era of clones. However, this has sparked debate over whether India should practise cloning and if it is morally and ethically acceptable to clone either humans or animals.
India now has some carefully crafted regulations in place, but for the past three years, no relevant law to control this field of study has been introduced.
The buffalo, affectionately dubbed Garima, was India’s first successfully cloned mammal and the country’s pride in cloning. At the National Dairy Research Institute in Karnal, it was cloned.
India supports controlled animal cloning research and authorises it.
Since therapeutic cloning can provide organ replacement, India has legalised it. However, India has a law against reproductive cloning. India has vehemently opposed reproductive human cloning, arguing that it is unethical, morally repugnant, and incompatible with respect for human life. However, India has backed stem cell research, arguing that the novel technique may be utilised to treat specific ailments.
The Indian Council of Medical Research developed a set of comprehensive rules for biomedical research in 2006. Another set of regulations for stem cell research was released in 2007, and this one expressly forbids human cloning.
The European Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine, 1997 is the first international legal document which establishes a number of guidelines and prohibitions against the improper use of biological and medical advancements.
The convention’s premise is that human interests must take precedence over those of science or society. It outlines a number of guidelines and restrictions with regard to bioethics, medical research, permission, the right to one’s own body and knowledge, organ transplantation etc.
“Practices damaging to human integrity, such as genetic cloning of human beings, will not be permitted,” states Article 11 of the Universal Declaration on Human Genome and Human Rights, which UNESCO endorsed on November 11, 1997. So, the legality of cloning only for scientific purposes is still up for debate. Human cloning is prohibited in reality.
In December 2001, the UNGA established an Ad Hoc Committee to consider “the elaboration of an international convention against the reproductive cloning of human beings”.
Indian Council of Medical Research has always been at the forefront to set the standards for ethics in biomedical and health research. Ethical Guidelines for Biomedical Research on Human Subjects” have been created by the ICMR. This policy statement was released by the Council in 1980 and later revised in 2000 and 2006.
These rules state that in order to protect the dignity, rights, safety, and general well-being of research subjects, biomedical and health research must be conducted in accordance with the four fundamental values of respect for persons (personal freedom), humanitarianism, non-maleficence, and justice.
There are other ways to clone people, but only reproductive cloning results in the creation of a complete human person. Since sheep, horses, and other animals have been successfully cloned by scientists, it is now theoretically possible to clone humans. As described in the article, human reproductive cloning can have major legal repercussions, and India currently lacks a formal legal framework that bans or penalises such practices. Even therapeutic is fraught with ethical issues such as destroying an embryo after it has been used to harvest stem cells and using a woman’s body and her eggs as a commodity for initiatives that don’t benefit them. Both therapeutic and reproductive cloning raises a number of ethical concerns, and it is crucial that explicit regulations are established to prevent the exploitation of such research projects. By doing this, future chaotic and perplexing situations can be avoided.
Author(s) Name: Arsheya Chaudhry (Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies, New Delhi)
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 Universal Declaration on Human Genome and Human Rights 1997, s 11
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