The cloning of animals for purposes of medical research presents many difficult ethical and philosophical questions. Highly divisive debates swirl around the issue, sparking spirited debate in religious and governmental centers around the world. The discussion inevitably touches upon the very value of life and the laws of nature. Four students from Yew Chung International School of Beijing dauntlessly tackle some of the issue’s mind-bending controversies. Gabriel Monroe
Leopold Waldersee, 15, Germany, has lived in Beijing for four years
Salomé Martin, 15, France, has lived in Beijing for four years
Kirsten Barry, 15, Ireland, has lived in Beijing for eight months
Darren Wong, 15, Malaysia, has lived in Beijing for eight months
What are some of the benefits of cloning research?
Leopold: The benefits would be medical. For example if you have a heart problem or a bad kidney, you could clone a new, healthy organ, then take the old one out, and transplant the new one in.
Salomé: I was thinking of transplants, and other medical benefits. Also, for research, perhaps doctors or vets could clone a sheep and perform tests on the cloned animals.
What are some of the risks of cloning research?
Leopold: Often cloning changes something and that could have side effects. Also, I’ve heard that the clone will start out a certain age. I’m not too sure about this. But, we have too many people anyway. It’s getting pretty crowded on the planet, so why clone?
Kirsten: It’s expensive, and 90 percent of cloning
attempts don’t work.
Salomé: Also clones are less healthy than the originals, and tend to have much shorter lifespans.
Darren: I was thinking more of mutations. With cloning, some mutations might be more likely due to genetic tampering.
What animals or living creatures are more or less appropriate to clone?
Darren: Perhaps animals that are extinct or endangered should be cloned to try to help their species survive?
Leopold: Yeah, that might work. Maybe it would be good to clone animals like tigers and pandas, to keep them from dying out. Maybe it would even be possible to use cloning science to revive dead animals, like dodos or dinosaurs.
Should humans be cloned? Why or Why not?
Salomé: No. It’s unethical. Everyone has their own identity, so if you clone someone, it’s not right. It’s just not right to have two of the same person, except for twins, which are natural. Also how would cloning a whole new person impact the new person mentally? What would their awareness of their existence be like?
Kirsten: No, I don’t think so. There are advantages to cloning a human for medical reasons but there are also lots of disadvantages – especially with the high rate of failure and the expense.
Is human life more important than animal life? Why or why not?
Leopold: The earth wouldn’t really care if
human beings died out. It would just go on, so it’s kind of hard to say. We’re sort of biased, because we need other humans. A tiger would naturally think that the life of another tiger is more important than the life of a human. Every species wants to survive.
If you could clone yourself, would you?
Leopold: I don’t think so.
Darren: I would, just in case. If anything happens, you know? Maybe I need a little brother who is exactly the same as I am.
Kirsten: No, I don’t think I would, and I don’t
really think people should, because they are their own person.
Salomé: I wouldn’t, either.
Leopold: Maybe I would clone certain body parts – if I had cancer in a certain part of my body then I could just replace it.
If you did clone yourself, what would it be like?
Leopold: It’s kind of impossible for them to be exactly the same, because their life would be different. First of all, there’s another one of them – you. People would treat them differently.
Darren: They could work for us! I could relax and they could work…
Leopold: But they would have their own minds, so if you were headstrong, they would also be headstrong. But then you would have to genetically modify the clones to make them obedient.