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Cloning: Facts and Statistics
Cloning offers infinite possibilities. It is akin to playing God. The possibilities are exhaustless even as we become aware of new and latest developments in cloning. To clone a plant, you grow another identical plant from a few cells of the first plant. This is common place and routine today. Many plants in the nurseries have been cloned. The first cloned animal was Dolly, the sheep. Other animals have been cloned subsequently – so it’s possible to produce clones of the best meat or milk producing cows in the world. It is quite possible to mass produce cattle that have been genetically engineered to produce drugs in their milk. The question now being asked is whether we can clone human beings.
So far there is no reported cloning of the human being but it is going to be done soon. Many countries have passed laws against cloning human beings – but it may still be done somewhere illegally. If you happen to be cloned, your cloned identity will be some one like your natural twin, but it still wouldn’t be you any more than natural twins are each other for you cannot clone the memories. Your individual identity is determined not just by your genes but also by your experiences and memories.
Walter Gilbert, a Nobel laureate in genetics, proclaimed not long back that “the human genome now being unraveled, mapped and sequenced in the National Institute of Health’s Human Genome Project represents the underlying human structure”. It would be possible, he declared, “to pull out a CD from one’s pocket and declare that this CD is a human being, and it’s me”. Soon after, Gilbert’s declaration looked a distinct possibility when the success at the animal cloning by the somatic cell nuclear transfer technique by Ian Wilmot proved a milestone in genetic engineering.
Actually, Gilbert’s image of CD itself is somewhat dated. Today “biological miniaturization promises far more information on ever smaller, tinier spots that can be biologized, and digitalized, then dotted on to a miniscule chip or eventually a molecule and encrypted under a finger nail or into a more clandestine and unscannable place in the body”. The day is not far when the true marvel will follow, allowing infertile people to select from a shelf of made to order or standard order embryos, just the baby they have long wanted. The world of genetics has in fact moved beyond science fiction.