Animal cloning has been one of the most controversial, yet promising technology in the modern times. It became one of the aspects of the development of technology, industry and economics among many developed countries. Animal cloning is a process of reproducing DNA fragments or organisms itself from the copies of DNA of the cloned animal (Surhan 24). Animal cloning technology started from reproducing bacterial, plants and insect cells. It became very controversial when they started cloning large animals such as goat, dog and cows. In the modern times, animal cloning has been useful in producing farm animals as livestock (Smith 920).
Animal cloning could also be a promising technology in the future. It could have a wide variety of applications such as preserving organism which are now endangered, increase production of transgenic animals and eliminating diseases which are specific to some animals (Wells 254). However, it is faced with several disadvantages and issues in the current times which could slow down its development.
These issues or disadvantages are due to the limitations of the current technology of genetic engineering or its social, economic and ethical implications (University of Utah Health Services np). The objective of this essay is to analyze and discuss the main disadvantages of animal cloning. These disadvantages include animal health hazards, inefficiency of current technology, irreversible and negative effects to the environment, lesser variation and altered biodiversity, and ethical considerations.
Animal Health Hazards
Animal health hazards of animal cloning refer to the potential risks to the health of cloned animals such as pregnancy losses and neonatal health problems (Wells 261). There are many aspects and factors in the current technology of animal cloning which should be considered in order to reduce these animal health hazards. Most of the animal health hazards of problems are encountered during the early days of the cloned animals (Surhan 26).
For cloning pigs and cows, scientists observed that the risk of underdeveloped placenta and fetal organs are relatively high. This problem or disadvantage of animal cloning could remove or reduce the advantage or benefit of reproducing large amounts of livestock (Smith 922). Scientists are also looking at the improper transition of during cloning as the main reason for the pregnancy losses.
Since animal cloning is associated with the use of genes and somatic cells, mutation could occur on cloned animals. In some of the early cloned animals, mutations occur on somatic cells which results to their weakness and even death. The mutation of the somatic cells of the cloned animals could also cause premature aging which could lead to early death (University of Utah Health Services np).
Another animal health hazard of animal cloning is a condition known as ‘large offspring syndrome’ (LOS). It is a condition where cloned animals have higher neonatal mortality and its birth weight is relatively high (University of Utah Health Services np). This condition could lead to the early death of the cloned animal. In general, the current technology of animal cloning is not well developed and could lead to animal health hazards (Surhan 26).
Inefficiency of Current Technology
The current technology of animal cloning is very expensive. Almost all the animal cloning developments are at research area. The cost of the equipment, gadgets and the raw materials needed for animal cloning is very expensive which could also lead to its slow development. Another main cause of its inefficiency is the large number of eggs required for the cloning of a single organism. The method of animal cloning is expensive because it requires large amounts of raw materials such as egg cells to produce a single product or cloned animal. The method could be considered wasteful due to the large amounts of eggs that are discarded along the process of animal cloning (Surhan 26). It could also mean large amounts of costs of animal cloning process are going to waste.
One major example of the inefficiency of the current technology of animal cloning is the world’s first cloning of a dog which was named ‘Snuppy’. For the process of making Snuppy, there are about more than 1000 eggs which are used to create only about three possible pregnancies. In this case, the success rate of cloning a dog with the methods used to produce Snuppy is only 0.3 percent. According to experts, the success rate of most of the animals to be cloned is not more than 3 percent. It means the current technology for animal cloning is very inefficient and very expensive (Smith 922).
Irreversible and Negative effects of the Environment
One of the major problems with animal cloning and genetic engineering as a whole is its possible negative and irreversible effects to the people as well as to the environment. The alteration and copying of genes from organisms are not well understood by people and most of the experts argue that it could lead to mutations of other microbial species such as virus and bacteria (Wells 254).
Cloned animals as well as the other genetically modified organisms are prone to release toxins and allergens which could transfer to other organisms leading to irreversible ecological problems (Surhan 26). This is the reason why some genetically modified crops are often separated from the natural crops.
The toxins and the allergens which could be produced by cloned animals and other genetically modified organisms could also affect other smaller organisms such as insects. It could easily spread to the environment since all of the organisms are interrelated with each other (Wells 261). These toxins and allergens could also recombine with microorganisms such as virus and bacteria which could result to hybrid and new diseases. It could endanger not only the human population but also the population of other organisms (Surhan 26). The ecological effects of cloning animals are irreversible and it could not be easily stopped. It is best if their effects are well understood before the cloning animals are applied into large scale.
Lesser Variation and Altered Biodiversity
The objective of animal cloning is the creation of genetically identical copies of the organisms. It means the cloned animals have the same genetic information. Large scale application of animal cloning could lead to lesser variation of animals which could be disadvantageous to humans as well as to the environment (Smith 922). The balance of nature relies on the variation of every species in the environment. Lesser variation could alter the biodiversity in the environment and causes major changes which could be harmful to humans as well as to the other organisms. The uniformity of the organisms due to animal cloning could also lead to irreversible changes to the environment especially when mutations occur (Surhan 27).
Some scientists argue that animal cloning could increase genetic diversity. It could be used in order to increase the population of some breeds of animals which are rare (Smith 922). However, this objective is very costly and large productions of more useful breed of animals have more possibility to occur. In this case animal cloning could be considered a threat to the genetic diversity as well as to the biodiversity in the environment. Biodiversity also relies on random mutation or changes in the environment and not induced by humans. The natural processes in the environment such as food web and material cycles could be altered with animal cloning.
The ethical issues associated with animal cloning could be the biggest problems which are argued people who are against it. Cloning animals are considered unethical and immoral since it tries to bend the limitations of humans to alter the environment. For religious people, it is considered unethical since it resembles an act of ‘playing God’ (Smith 922).
The ethical considerations associated with animal cloning go beyond several issues such as food safety, animal health and human health. It also tackles the welfare of animals and the rights of people to be protected against genetically modified organisms (Surhan 27). Most of the people are concerned about the risks regarding genetically modified organisms and cloned animals such as mutation and health hazards.
Another main ethical consideration for animal cloning is its technological boundary. The
Development of animal cloning could lead to the progress of human cloning which is a very controversial issue. In the modern times, human cloning could be beneficial for the transplant of organs (Wells 261). They are cloning human organs to be transplanted to individuals who need them. However, people should understand that the application of human cloning could result to major changes such as lesser variation and altered social development.
Smith, Lawrence. Benefits and Problems with Cloning Animals. Canadian Veterinary Journal. 2000. Print.
Surhan, S. Advantages and Disadvantages of Genetic Engineering as a Technology. Anthology of Science Articles. 2002. Web. 17 July 2015. <http://fos.ubd.edu.bn/sites/default/files/2002-Paper4.pdf>
Wells, D. Animal Cloning: problems and prospects. Scientific and Technical Review of the Office International des Epizooties. 2004. Web. 17 July 2015. <http://vet.hcmuaf.edu.vn/data/file/application%20of%20biotechnology%20of%20animal%20health%20and%20production%20/Animal%20cloning%20problems%20and%20prospects.pdf >