Cloning is defined as using the cells of one living subject, plant or animal, to create another duplicate subject. A cloned subject will be identical to its parent. Cloning has become the center of a huge debate over the advantages and disadvantages of producing clones, especially of animals and humans. While this technology could be useful for laboratory studies and for creating desirable livestock, there are several disadvantages of cloning that should be considered.
One of the biggest disadvantages of cloning is that the technology is still so uncertain. Dolly the sheep, the first mammalian clone, was born in 1996. While she was initially successful, she died young of a disease not normally seen in sheep of her age. Scientists are still unsure of any genetic mutations that might occur when an animal is cloned. Also, while Dolly was a successful clone, there were hundreds of failed clones before she was made, including several dead fetuses. Other cloned animals have turned out horribly deformed.
Losing gene diversity is another of the disadvantages of cloning. Gene diversity is what keeps an entire species from being wiped out by a singular virus if none of them have natural immunities. This is due to the lack of gene diversity. Gene mutations happen naturally, and help to explain why some people naturally are taller, shorter, or more athletic than others. Some people and animals naturally have a stronger immune system. If gene diversity is lost due to excessive cloning, there are no mutations to allow some of the cloned group to survive a newly introduced disease.
Another of the disadvantages of cloning is that there are a lot of ethical considerations that would cause most people to protest. One of these ethical concerns is that cloning is unnatural, and considered “playing God.” Another concern is the treatment of clones. Clones would have the same needs as non-clones of their species. Humane treatment guidelines would still apply.
There is always a risk of cloning technology being abused. One of the main disadvantages of cloning is that the technology would have to be kept closely monitored. For example, imagine what a corrupt dictator could do with cloning. There will always be someone looking to use cloning for their own personal use, and many feel that the best way to prevent this is to not pursue cloning at all.
There are many advantages to cloning, such as the chance of curing certain diseases and being able to breed ideal stock for research and consumption. However, the disadvantages of cloning are seen by many to far outweigh any benefits that might be seen. Because of the risk taking involved in cloning, it is a technology that many experts say may be better left alone, at least until it is better understood.