Sample Essay on Cloning
Cloning is a type of reproductive technology that has raised a lot of discussion in the West. Ormandy, Dale, & Griffin (2011) describe cloning as a process through which DNA is transferred from one organism to another. Before this procedure, professional scientists are involved in the selection, extraction and isolation of certain genes to create transgenic organisms. Therefore, cloning can be described as selective assisted breeding (SAB) that is directed at creating transgenic organisms with some genetically modified features. The practice of altering some features of farm animals through SAB goes back thousands of years ago when man resorted to animal domestication. However, the most popular transgenic animal is arguably Dolly the sheep that was cloned in 1996 (Ossola, 2015). The successful procedure became an increasingly controversial issue, and this heated debate has carried on to the present day. Scientists are also yet to come to a consensus about the subject, meaning that animal cloning as a reproductive technology has both advantages and disadvantages.
Methods of Cloning
There are two methods that cloning is achieved: embryo splitting and somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). According to Ormandy et al. (2011), embryo splitting is a process that involves splitting an embryo after conception in order to create two organisms with the same genotype. In contrast, the SCNT bypasses the need for fertilization to produce organisms that are genetically unlike any organism existing in nature. Scientists remove the nucleus from an unfertilized egg and replace it with that of a somatic cell (Ormandy et al., 2011). Then, the egg cell that carries the replaced nucleus is transplanted into the uterus of a recipient organism.
Advantages of Cloning
Cloning enables scientists to protect endangered species. It is possible for scientists to preserve some endangered species through cloning. For example, there is a significant risk in China that pandas might become extinct (Ghosh, 2010). In order to avoid this imminent occurrence, scientists have kept their cells on reserve just in case the threat of extinction is realized. The available cloning techniques have made it possible for scientists to create gene banks to prevent some species from disappearing from the ecosystem.
Besides protecting some species, cloning is preferred by farmers because it speeds up the reproduction of some of the livestock with desirable qualities. Cloning has helped farmers to increase the production of beef and milk because they can multiply the number of their most productive livestock within a short period. According to Ossola (2015), cloning livestock is playing a critical role in meeting the demand for meat and milk especially in urban areas. As the population of most industrialized countries continues to increase, meat and milk consumption has almost quadrupled to leave most farmers struggling to meet demand. Now it is possible to increase the supply of milk and beef by cloning more cows to meet the rising demand. Cloning has ensured that there is a high and consistent quality of milk and meat by enabling farmers to select those animals that have the most desirable features.
Similarly, cloning ensures that only the healthiest animals are reproduced. When it is possible to reproduce selected livestock with desirable traits, such as resistance to diseases, the reliance on growth hormones is minimized considerably. Hur (2017) explains that cloning has enabled the reproduction of only the elite, high value livestock that are free from most diseases. It is one of the reasons why most proponents of cloning continue to praise the breeding technique as revolutionary in the livestock industry.
Disadvantages of Cloning
Animal cloning compromises animal welfare. Most of the cloned embryos do not develop to term while those that do end up dying during or after birth. Harris (2016) reports that cloning exposes organisms to multiple conditions that reduce their survival chances. Some of the well-known conditions include cardiovascular failure respiratory challenges, and abnormalities associated with skeletal tissues. In livestock, most of the health challenges are linked with large offspring syndrome (LOS), which has given rise to abnormal placental development, respiratory difficulties, and perinatal mortality (Gupta, Sengupta, Prakash, & Tripathy, 2017). This is one of the major challenges that continues to confront this breeding technique across the world. Most of the studies that have been conducted in the 21st century are sounding an alarm over the pronounced but hidden risks of livestock cloning. A study conducted in 2010 revealed that less than 10% of transferred embryos develop to term (Gupta et al., 2017). Additionally, over 42% of cloned calves die between their birth and five months of age as a result of multiple abnormalities, including enlarged umbilical cord, hypothermia and damaged flexor tendons (Gupta et al., 2017). By extension, cloned animals that survive will end up becoming susceptible to similar diseases. They will not be able to adapt to their environment to evolve into offspring with desirable qualities. In the livestock industry, this health issue has continued to elicit controversy about how ethical the practice is in the modern world.
Impact of Cloning in the Livestock Industry
The greatest impact of cloning in the livestock industry is in food production. Cloning has improved the production of meat under the intense pressure of population increase (Plume, 2009). In the U.S., scientists have raised the levels of selective breeding to meet the demand of the livestock industry. They are continuously selecting exceptional animals to be used as breeding stock. The main objective is to support the livestock industry maintain its streak of reliability through the supply of quality beef and dairy in the U.S. There was an imminent danger that farmers may have fallen behind without the ability to clone animals to improve their productivity. Now, producers are confident of meeting consumption demand from the rising world population because it is estimated that close to 70% of it will be met through the reproductive technology (Plume, 2009). More factories will be developed to produce cloned livestock on an industrial scale to sustain the supply which might not have been possible without cloning. In China, one single factory is projected to have the capacity to supply the nation with 5% of its meat (Ossola, 2015). This shows the potential of livestock industry under the power of cloning. Cloning has transformed the livestock industry.
Livestock cloning is among the most progressive scientific advances to have been introduced in recent times. It might be controversial because of issues associated with animal welfare, but there is an underlying belief that the breeding technology has transformed the livestock industry. Farmers can now rely on cloning to breed cows that produces more milk and resist various diseases in order to meet the rising demand for meat in urban areas. All signs are that cloning will eventually become the norm across the world to complement the traditional method of breeding. With the increased demand for food, more critics will soften their stand to see the need for cloning.