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THE HUMAN GENOME PROJECT:

Ethical or Unethical?
ENGLISH 101
Monday, April 4, 2000.



Cloning a human being is something that has been fantasized for a long
time in
science fiction. Until now, never in history has science been able to so
deeply impact
human lives, as genetic engineering will. The Human Genome Project, is an
international
effort to “map” the 3 billion parts of proteins that make up human
deoxyribonucleic acid
(DNA), is to be completed by the year 2003; the use of such technology
poses an eminent
threat to society as we know it. Cloning humans has recently become much
more feasible
in today’s society than it was twenty years ago, yet is it unclear if it is
ethical or unethical
to do so. Scientific and ethical studies of cloning have proven that
cloning will have a
negative rather than a positive effect on today’s society. Whether or not a
scientist should
or should not clone humans is a tough question to answer. My main focus is
not on
whether human cloning should be done, but rather is it ethically right to
do so.

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I believe that the Human Genome Project is unethical, because of all
the harmful
possibilities, such as the development of a super-race, the production of
bio-logical
weapons of mass destruction, and religious and evolutionary consequences. I
would like
to see this published in a college newspaper because, it is my hope that
college students
who will become the world’s future scientists and lawmakers will take into
consideration
many of these views. The Human Genome Project today is often sugar coated
promising
that it will increase the life expectancy of each individual by the
creation of new vaccines
for diseases such as cancer and aids. The question that must be asked is;
what is the
Human Genome Project capable of?
It has been almost a hundred years since the first clone was ever
created. In 1902,
German embryologist Hans Spermann, used a strand of hair to split apart
cells of a two-
celled salamander, and obtained a normal salamander from each cell. Thirty-
six years
later, Spermann used nuclear transportation to create a clone. He then took
the nucleus, the cellular structure that contains the most genetic material
and controls
growth and development, and removed it from an egg cell of an organism.

Through
this process Spermann had successfully created another clone. A few years
later,
other scientists were able to clone plants. Plants were simple in structure
and cloning
them became very popular with scientists. Scientists have cloned fruits,
vegetables,
trees, and plant life. This technique of cloning plants enables scientists
to select a
desirable plant and produce as many identical copies of it as they wish.

The next step
in cloning was taken in 1952, scientists kept attempting to clone frogs but
the cells
always ended up dying and the scientists stopped trying to clone frogs.

Then in 1970,
scientists again tried to clone frogs but failed again. Finally scientists,
realized that a
more complex animal such as a mammal could not be cloned. However, in 1996,
Hans Spermann’s idea of nuclear transportation resurfaced, it was used
very
extensively by Scottish scientists and was proven successful. The arrival
of Dolly, a
sheep developed from an egg whose own genes had been replaced by those from
an
adult udder cell, was seen as the first incarnation of a sinister future.

Scientists at the
Roslin Institute in Scotland cloned Dolly. For the first time, a complex
animal had
been cloned from a body cell (Humancloning.org). Ever since the
announcement of
Dolly, many questions, concerns, and comments have surfaced. In 1997,
scientist
Richard Seed announced that he planned to clone a human. An uproar by
religious
and scientific communities alike brought about many ethical and moral
controversies.


There are many different reasons behind the Human Genome Project.

Doctors see
cloning as a way of providing much-needed organs such as the heart and
lung. Scientist
might also view cloning as a way to find cures for diseases such as aids
and cancer.


Although, human cloning could be beneficial in providing much needed
information for
medical advance. Microbiologist, Dr. Ian Wilmut implies, “the primary
purpose of the
cloning is to advance the development of drug therapies to combat certain
life
threatening human diseases” (LifeLines 110). Other scientists, especially
the ones
working for pharmaceutical companies in the U.S., appear to have adopted a
more
apocalyptic view of the news. Author Jeremy Rifkin states,
Once we decide to begin the process of human genetic
engineering, there really is no logical place to stop. If
diabetes, sickle-cell disease and cancer are to be cured by
altering the genetic makeup of an individual. Why not proceed
to other “disorders”: myopia (near sightedness), color
blindness, left handedness. Indeed, what is to preclude a
society from deciding that a certain skin color is a disorder”
(127).


In the wrong hands, many different issues are raised, from the production
of biological
weapons to the production of a super-race. Daniel J. Kevles, of Eugenics
and the Human
Genome Project says, “It is doubtful that advances in genetic knowledge
will lead to a
revival attempts to produce a super race”(Bio-Medical Ethics 227). If we
let scientists
start cloning, then how do we know that they are going to stop there?
Without ethical and
moral principles to guide or control scientists, scientific research will
be left by default to
the whim of researchers and whatever principles they decide to impose on
themselves.


John Moreno states, “Humans share 98.4 percent of their DNA with
chimpanzees”
(291). Does this imply that a “super race” may be possible with the Human
Genome
Project? In unjustifiable hands, such scientists could become their own
Gods.


If we did give the okay to proceed with cloning technology, how would we
keep it
from getting into the hands of madmen or dictators such as Suddam Hussein?
If people
like this get their hands on this technology, would they produce biological
weapons of
mass destruction? It is a very likely possibility, instead of spending all
this money on
a needless technology that is in such an infantile stage, why don’t
scientists spend it on a
much better cause, such as trying to find a cure for cancer, aids, or maybe
even feeding
the hungry; something that would benefit society. Although, many scientist
would argue
that cloning would assist in creating such benefits, they are hesitant to
discuss it’s
disadvantages.


Imagine a woman is driving and gets into a car accident. She is rushed
to the
hospital and examined, then the doctors come in and tell her that both of
her legs
must be removed. She loses both of her legs and will be confined to a
wheelchair for
the rest of her life. Taking genetic engineering into mind, scientist Joan
Stephenson
implies, “There could be rare circumstances in the future where cloning
technology
would have medical benefits”(Bio-Medical Ethics 35). Instead of being
confined to a
wheelchair the rest of her life, she has the option of having new legs from
a clone.

This is something that could be quite possible in the near future, made
possible
through cloning. But, at what cost, who decides that this woman should get
the legs
and the clone must give them up?
Cloning a human being remains as far away in practice as it ever
did. We can find no medically justifiable reason for any such
attempts, assuming the technique could be made to work…For the
prevention of inherited disease, existing techniques of invitro
fertilisation and selective embryo transfer are or will be
adequate. Cloning to provide “spare Parts” is ethically
unacceptable (Bio-medical Ethics 38).

There is no doubt that many problems involving the technological and
ethical sides of
this issue will arise and will be virtually impossible to avoid, but the
overall idea of
cloning humans is one that we should accept as a possible reality for the
future. The
research needed to develop human cloning would produce many imperfect
results,
and it would be sinful to simply dispose of these “mistakes”. Is a clone
less human,
because they were not born by a human couple? I say no. If humans were
successfully
cloned, our achievement would be bringing the clone a life of pain, of
being an
“outsider”. This is how they would likely feel because they would be
surrounded by
people who all have parents and were created by God or evolution in their
own
special way, everyone unique. Further, scientists simply do not have the
wisdom to
direct the course of God or evolution’s purpose. The possibilities of
cloning humans
are as endless as they are dreadful.


The Human Genome Project is unethical and immoral, because, it goes
against
God and evolution. Many ethical and moral issues have caused debate as to
whether or
not scientists should study and explore the Human Genome Project. The
Economist, a
weekly magazine published in Britain states,
Calls to ban human cloning are based on unsubstantiated fears
that cloning technology will be used for evil purposes.

Technology is never bad in and of itself; it is the purposes for
which it is used that can be malevolent. Though cloning
research does present some dangers, it also has many potential
benefits and should not be banned simply out of fear of it’s
possible misuse (Cloning 61).


If human cloning is permitted, It “could” very well have some kind of
benefits. But,
whom does this knowledge really favor? It is possible to reach such
benefits though the
cloning of animals and not humans. Science fiction has now become science
fact with the
idea of cloning at our fingertips. As matters involving cloning begin to
shift toward
human applications, many condemning concerns arise from religious beliefs
and
scientific studies. Professor Leon R. Koss, states, “We are repelled by the
prospect of
cloning human beings, because we intuit and feel the violation of things
that we rightfully
hold dear”(Cloning 34). This debate is not merely confined to scientists
and religious
leaders; but everyone from the world leaders to blue collar workers are
engaging in the
debate of human cloning. With more than 90% of the world’s population
believing in
either God or evolution, to do something like clone a human being would be
against the
majority of the people’s wishes. John F. Kilner, director of the Center for
Bio-ethics and
Human Dignity in Bannockburn, Illinois says,
Human Cloning research would be unethical because it would
inevitably cause the deaths of human embryos. Further, cloning
a human for a particular purpose would violate that person’s God-
given human dignity by subordinating his or her existence to the
interests of others. Cloning research should not be permitted
for any purpose (Cloning 13).


The major problem with cloning is that it is still in an infantile stage.

The cloning of
Dolly shows that cloning is very risky in these early stages. It took
scientist 277 tries to
produce Dolly, and along the way they produced sheep with abnormalities. Is
it ethical to
try this technique on 277 human babies? Human cloning clearly requires some
kind of
regulation. What God or evolution intends should be left alone; we have
survived
for millions of years without such technology. As felt by the majority of
religions “the
divine power to create life” is a power that humans should not possess.

These arguments
are not based on the fact that this technology might be used for evil
purposes or that
clones will have fewer rights, but attacks the attempt to replicate the
human soul and defy
God’s authority over the creation of human life or cause a huge imbalance
in the course
of evolution.


No matter what we say or do, research for cloning will steadily
continue and
even more moral and ethical issues will arise. Who knows if human cloning
done in research labs presently will go beyond the laboratory and affect
individual lives. What we do know however, is that cloning seems to be
very
appealing in some aspects and very frightening in others. My view on
cloning a
human being is that, it is ethically and morally wrong and we should not
develop this
technology any further. If humans are cloned than that knowledge should be
used
constructively, possibly in the long run it could do more good than harm.

However, if
human cloning were used just to make spare parts, to create biological
weapons or if
clones were just sent to war as soldiers, then it is wrong. The Human
Genome Project
is a new technology that is being pushed by scientists, and people do not
seem to
realize the potential hazards. Incurable new diseases, and the production
of bio-
logical weapons of mass destruction could be created, and for the most
part, society
as we know it could cease to exist.


WORKS CITED
Cohen, Daniel, CLONING, Brookfield, Connecticut. 1998.


Kidd Renee and J.S, LIFELINES, New York, NY. 1999.


HUMANCLONING.ORG, “Human Cloning Foundation – The official site in support
of human cloning”, 2000. Online. Internet. March 27, 2000. Available:
http://www.humancloning.org/benefits.htm
Moreno, Jonathan D., UNDUE RISK, Houndmills, Basingstroke(England) 1999.


Rifkin, Jeremy GENETICS & GENETIC ENGINEERING, New York, NY. 1997
Roleff, Tamara L., BIO-MEDICAL ETHICS, “Ethical Issues and Policies”, San
Diego, California: Green Haven Press, Inc. 1998.


Winters, Paul A., CLONING, San Diego, California: Green Haven Press, Inc.

1999.

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