Cloning is the scientific process of creating an artificial reproduction of an existing organism, gene or set of genes. Cloning is different from the artificial insemination of an animal or artificial fertilization of a plant, in that cloning does not require sexual or asexual reproduction. The process creates an identical copy of the gene or organism using bacterium. There are several types of cloning and the uses of each are cause for controversy.
Cloning is used in agriculture to produce additional crops by reproducing plants of existing crops. The type of cloning utilized in this situation is tissue sample cloning. A tissue sample from a parent plant is treated with a nutrient mixture that promotes the growth of roots. Roots sprout from the tissue sample to create an identical copy of the parent plant.
Cloning of human cells is not used to make artificial identical twins, but to harvest stem cells for use in the medical field to treat health conditions. The type of cloning in which stem cells are created is called therapeutic cloning. The stem cells that are grown are used to aid the body in boosting the immune system, replacing harmed or removed organs and curing various diseases including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.
Cloning is a topic of controversy and a subject of debate. Religious persons argue that cloning is unethical, however the current uses of cloning provide ways of assisting farmers and healing sick, rather than aiding sins of sloth, greed, and vanity. Controversy and debate will continue as the potential uses of cloning are explored.
“Cloning in America.” by Kelli Whitlock Burton, refers to approval studies on the uses of cloning. While approval for reproductive cloning is low, therapeutic cloning is more widely accepted as an ethical use of cloning. To prevent human cloning, the United States government has refused to fund such research and required all parties researching human cloning to obtain permission before beginning research.
The Office of Science Policy Analysis and the National Institutes of Health theorize the future uses of cloning to include advanced treatment of diseases, and perhaps even the cure of various diseases and disorders. Of these diseases, it is theorized that cloning has the potential to be used for reversing the effects of diabetes by reproducing insulin cells in the pancreas. Additionally, skin grafting and gene therapy may benefit from the future potential uses of cloning.