So my husband and I watched Jurassic Park (I know totally dating ourselves lol) last night and it made me think whether the Church condems all cloning or just human cloning. Are we allowed to clone animals or plants? And if so does there need to be a just reason to do so (ie for medical testing, food) or can it be done for other unnecessary reasons like to help prevent species extintiction, etc?
Both my wife and I have participated in Genetic modification and cloning of plants. Certain Crops to be specific. The Church has spoken about human cloning and about how we are to treat nature.
So, this is something that is allowed but one must make sure they are following a good moral path in relation to moral law. “cloning” is not as beneficial as once thought. Genetic modification, however has potential upside. One thing to remember is that we are stewards of nature. But animals and plants do not have immortal souls (they do have souls, but not immortal ones.) This is why we can kill and eat a plant or animal but not a human. Personally I have a moral queasiness with cloning mammals like sheep and such. Really I cannot make the theological argument on why a sheep bothers me but a mouse or cockroach does not. But it is an odd situation that leaves me uneasy.
Perhaps it is easier to consider this,
With plants it is much easier. Eugenics is highly offensive in human discussion. Breeding for a specific trait or race brings to mind images of racism or genocide. But with crops we do this all the time, we breed or modify traits we wish to keep or discard. This is not immoral, certainly varieties of apples and potatoes are more to your liking that others and traits that are resistant to disease or drought can indeed feed the world. But we must make sure that we are always considering the effect it can have on the natural world. The US is very diligent about this in terms of introducing a new trait or variety into the ecosystem. And even on a non scientific level this is done with sometimes good and sometimes bad results. If you live in the USA you can attest to the yearly battle with certain plants and weeds. Plants like the dandylion are not native to the area but have taken over. Cheat grass in the west has virtually choked out all native vegetation, including sage brush. Snails and muscles and fish that are introduced into a new waterway can have catastrophic effects not only on the economy but on all nature and environments. And these issues do not even touch upon the genetic issues you point out. So, we must be careful and good stewards in our development of creation. There needs to be a benefit and a protection from dangers or bad effects. Within the scientific and even corporate community that we have worked with there is generally a safe and ultimately good motive for the research we do. Even from that big bad evil empire that starts with a “M” and ends with a “onsanto” The “Big 5” are taking most of the heat for this type of research. And I would be lying to you if I said that sometimes we have our reservations about the motives or potential risks of some of what goes on.
I have a feeling our days in the field are all but over (perhaps in a few months) But I also know that if you eat certain things, you are eating something my wife has genetically modified to either be healthier (less carcinogens) or taste better. or grows better with higher yield to feed more people and animals.
It is an interesting field for sure and one that has some moral obstacles that are unique.
FYI Jurassic Park as a book and to a lesser extent a movie was incredibly accurate scientifically for it’s time. In my opinion it should be up there with some of the greatest Sci Fi books of all time. Outbreak was also a very accurate scientific book. (And a good movie as well)
Honestly, as for your comment, that was generally the style of Michael Crichton’s sci-fi - it’s science fiction, but written in the present day with current-day research and knowledge, so it appears as if the events could actually happen today - not 15, 30, 100, or 200 years from now.
As for cloning, even though we’re able to do it, and it’s considered morally neutral for creatures that are not human, it’s not a good idea. We learned from Dolly the sheep that there are inherent problems that occur when one clones animals, partly due to DNA degradation
Great explanation. Thanks!
Firstly we shouldn’t be cloning anything.
Secondly, if scientists are desperate to clone, bring back the Dodo!
First we need to understand our terms, and also if the same mechanism is used any where in nature.
Cloning means reproducing an organism without the participation of female and male gametes. Most species Vegetables, insects and animals do come in both male and female.
Now in nature some species (Vegetables, Insects and Animals) do exhibit cloned reproduction. It is called “Parthenogenesis”.
Usually it is the female of the species that undergoes this form of reproduction. And usually the offspring are all females.
We on the other hand have been using cloning when we try to enhance the properties of plants we cultivate. Although most people did not call it “cloning” however the process if pretty much the same.
The Church has spoken on the immorality of cloning full human beings, however we can clone parts to repair damage to a person as long as there is no use made of embryonic stem cells in the process.
So you can see the principle in action here, if Nature uses the method we are relatively free to use it also, but NOT when it pertains to humans as we do not reproduce naturally via this method.
When my wife leaves something in the ‘fridge’ a little too long, it also becomes “genetically modified” with a pretty blue-green color!
Heh. Of course, it’s actually being eaten, as that mold you see is a living organism in and of itself (molds are fungi). And we do genetically modify molds and bacteria all the time, primarily to help us. Unfortunately, we’ve also genetically modified some bacteria (both intentionally by development of biological weapons and unintentionally by overuse of antibiotics) to be deadlier.
Anything? Why not?
I dont think we should be cloning anything either, I think God would consider it a form of abuse, although I dont see how we could abuse a plant, but then again, they are living, breathing things that ARE alive, so.
The real problem is human cloning, if they get too comfy with animal and plant cloning, eventually someone, somewhere is going to take that next step and start with humans, thats a given.(if it has not been done already somewhere).
There is a lot of good from cloning.
Geneticists use several different techniques that clone DNA.
We use cloning to clean oil spills, we use it for Gene Therapy and replacement therapy for patients with debilitating diseases…this helps them live longer and live far more comfortable lifestyles.
Drugs are made safer through cloning. The two biggest examples being Insulin and Factor VIII.
Factor VIII used to be an unmitigated disaster for hemophiliac patients because they were playing Russian Roulette with blood transfusions that could contain HIV and Hep C. Granted, blood donation is far safer then it was in the 80s but that risk is still there.
Recombinant synthesized products (which is cloning DNA) completely eliminate any risk these patients have contracting diseases through transfusions.
Forensics relies heavily on cloning DNA to bring criminals to justice.
Cloning can be a very, very good thing. I’m all for it.
Animal and plant cloning needs to be done with risks in mind. Is this genetically modified plant (or Genetically Modified Organism) safe to eat? It may yield more edible parts and/or be more resistant to certain insects, but that doesn’t automatically make such food safe.
I have driven through real, miles and miles of farm country. I recall passing a field where rows of corn (as I recall) had signs with different code letters and numbers, per row. I don’t think there were more than 8 rows involved. There was a company name associated with this that I do not recall.
On the other hand, information is coming out that state GMOs are not safe or have not been scientifically studied properly to conclude they are safe.
Simply making an unmodified copy of a plant through other than the usual natural means would make little sense unless modifications could be introduced during the process.