CyberDodo and Clones (1-4)

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It has to do with asexual, identical reproduction of a living body.

From the beginning of time, nature has cloned certain plants, certain animals and even humans, as true twins are perfect clones. Recently man has decided to try and imitate this ability, and this ambition is of concern to a great deal of people.

Because, apart from the undeniable technological and scientific expertise involved in the cloning of carp in 1963 or of sheep in 1996, there are more questions than answers with regard to the issues raised by these first attempts.

Cloning, a scientific as well as a philosophical challenge

Why clone a living being?

The defenders of reproductive animal cloning point out that it is possible to preserve threatened species by multiplying the very low number of existing individuals so as to ensure the survival of the species. With regard to human reproductive cloning, the arguments in its favour are generally linked to the needs of adults who cannot have children naturally or who have lost a child, and those who want to ‘re-create’ people, so they want to clone individuals that they consider to be exceptional (Starting off with themselves!).

As the name indicates, therapeutic cloning focuses on other purposes.

What do its opponents say?

That apart from the very low rate of success and the high financial cost of animal cloning, it highlights a problem that already affects many species, in-breeding and the consecutive loss of genetic diversity (For more information on this matter, see in particular the case file on cheetahs).

The idea of cloning animals from species with few individuals can only be a last resort, and will not enable them to be reintroduced in Nature.

Human reproductive cloning raises other even more serious matters on the status of man. Can it be simply regarded as a ‘code’ which we have the right to copy, with no other ethical questions involved? A human being has always been an unique individual; even twins are considered by society to be two unique people who have something in common. Will the possibility of identically and infinitely reproducing the same person not totally upset the image that human beings have of themselves and their duties?

When scientists propose doing research so as to be able to eventually clone organs to save sick people (Therapeutic cloning), is it conceivable/desirable to regard the human body as a machine, with parts that can freely be reproduced and changed when they are used?

Is cloning the first stage on the path of immortality for some people, what do you think about it?

The answer is found in 3 letters: DNA for deoxyribonucleic acid! DNA is a molecule containing all the information that will guarantee the development and proper operation of a body. DNA is the book of life.

DNA has a double helix, spiral shape, like a ladder that spins on itself. DNA is the main component of chromosomes constituting our genetic inheritance.

For numerous species, including man, their genetic inheritance comes from both of their parents, each one is therefore unique, as the combination is always different (Except in the case of true twins, as we have already seen).

Artificial cloning (done by man) therefore consists of making a direct copy of this information, with no mixing, to reproduce the same body.

The double helix of life

Is there an international treaty forbidding the uncontrolled spread of cloning?

The short answer is no.

A more detailed answer is found in the United Nations Universal Declaration on the human genome and the rights of man, adopted in 1997, and you can find the full text on the pages below.

This treaty clearly specifies the challenges involved in cloning and all the forms of genetic manipulation, giving guidelines on each issue raised.

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To see English  treaty

To see the cartoon on clones, click here

To see the cartoon on cheetahs, click here

To see the game on clones, click here

To see the quiz on clones, click here

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