Certifiable Test Case

Confused employee wading through Nerd Nirvana

My Photo
Location: Hyderabad, AP, India

Program Manager Microsoft IT India

Sunday, May 22, 2005

'I'd like you to meet...ME!!'

A team of researchers, led by Professor Hwang Woo-suk, announced one of the major scientific advances of the decade on Thursday in Seoul: the ability to prepare patient-specific stem cells, paving the way towards treatment of genetic diseases. The same team was the first in the world to successfully clone a human embryo, and this advance means that cloned cells can be inserted into a surrogate mother and be accepted by the human system -- put simply, human cloning can be brought from the realms of fantasy to human reality.

What, exactly, are the layman's (or lay-colleger's) views on cloning? Although its been there for a while, and has suggested several imaginative scenarios, I doubt that the consequences of cloning (whether beneficial or maleficent) have impinged themselves on the mind of the collective consciousness. I was curious to know, and so I quizzed a few people on this...

Some collegers feel (rather vaguely) that cloning is a good thing. Why? Well...uh..you know...er..well, its a hi-tech thing, you know...er, can't cloning improve genes or something...of course, it should not fall into the wrong hands, no, definitely not! So whose hands are the 'wrong hands'? Uh, well, I have no idea. Are they in the right hands now? Yeah, i guess so..

So much for the collective consciousness.

Cloning procedure Actually, I think this is because people aren't quite aware of what or how the cloning is actually done. Upto now, even I had the vague notion that you could cut off a piece of tissue, put it into some sort of thingamagic and whoosh...a new you! Of course, it isn't anything like that, as the figure on the left will show. In human terms (as quoted from the website whose link is below) : A "human clone" is a time-delayed identical twin of another person. A clone is not an exact replica of the original, but just a much younger identical twin.

So is cloning good or bad? Opinions vary. Researchers argue that human cloning could be used to combat genetic diseases (cure for cancer...), and perhaps combat the ill-effects of aging.

The problem is that scientific applications go far above the layman's head. Religious leaders cry out in outrage: "Can man play God?". One of the most famous opponents of the cloning practice is none other than George W Bush, who issued a statement against the research a few days ago. There are several compelling ethical arguments against cloning, too: objectisation of people, loss of human dignity, and so on.

So my views? Research into human cloning should definitely accelerate in the years to come...but there have to be both political and economic sanctions imposed on such research. As Prof. Woo - Suk commented it will take years for the techniques announced to start benefitting humanity. But cloning, once perfected, will, I judge, have benefits that will outweigh the costs.

And the down side! Maybe two of me. God knows I have enough problems with just the one!!

Click here for more arguments on Human cloning


Post a Comment

<< Home