Cloning As an Application of Biotechnology
According to Levine (2009), Cloning can be defined as the reproduction without sex. The basic definition of sex in this context is the joining of genetic material from two parents to form an embryo. Cloning, however, does not use the technique of directly joining the female and male gamete, but it uses the fact that DNA can be duplicated by inserting DNA into a host cell (Levine, 2009).
During cloning, a fragment of DNA extracted from a cell and containing the gene to be cloned into a vector (Brown, 2010). The vector in this case acts as a vehicle that is going to be used by the gene in getting into the host cell. Such a vector can be described biologically as a recombinant DNA molecule. In the host cell, the vector multiplies thereby producing identical copies of it and also of the gene which it was carrying (Brown, 2010). The vector replication is even furthered when the host cell divides since the produced vectors carrying the DNA get passed down to the progeny. This process autonomously continues until there results a colony, now called a clone, of the host cells (Brown, 2010).
Since Biotechnology involves the use of living organisms or their processes for human purposes, cloning is thus a biotechnology application. This is because, cloning involves modification and production of living organisms that meet human needs and use. Historically, the first cloning procedure to succeed resulted to the production of Dolly, a cloned sheep. It took 277 attempts, however, to extract the required DNA, but this did not deter the scientists involved in the project from proving that asexual reproduction of animal, including humans, was possible. Such procedures have since improved with the development of methods like recombinant DNA technology and genetic engineering, which Biotechnological techniques, hence rendering cloning as Biotechnology.
Cloning as a Biotechnology application is of beneficial use to humans in various ways. For instance, though cloning large numbers of sheep producing quality wool can be produced (Piñón, 2002). Again, through the production of transgenic clones, animals with therapeutic value can be produced (Piñón, 2002). Cloning can also find pertinent application in the production of animals with the same genetic defects as human beings. Such animals can then be studied with the aim of finding therapies to these human defects (e.g.) cystic fibrosis (Piñón, 2002). It worth noting that cloning technique can be applied in the production of cattle free from the mad cow disease, a disease that can infect humans who have taken medicine derived from cattle probably suffering the disease (Piñón, 2002).
In as much as biotechnology, with reference to cloning as discussed above, in of utmost benefit to humans, there are ethical concerns that accompany such techniques. The success of cloning Dolly proved that humans could also be cloned. Notably, this was the main purpose of producing Dolly: to prove that humans can also reproduce asexually. The issue of human cloning attracted, and still attracts heighten concern, with people varying in their stance regarding this issue. Apart from cloning, there are other ethical concerns surrounding other biotechnology applications like genetically modified organisms, transgenic plants and animals, vaccines among others. Such ethical concerns do not show prospects that there ethical stake will at one time be decided.
Brown, T. A. (2010). Gene Cloning and DNA Analysis: An Introduction. West Sussex: John Wiley and Sons
Levine, A. D. (2006). Cloning. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc.
Piñón, R. (2002). Biology of human reproduction. Sausalito: University Science Books.