Week 6: The (non)Threat of Cloning by Leah Sitler

This week in class, we talked about biotechnology.  The field seems limitless, with endless possibilities and opportunities.  Humans are now able to control the one thing that seemed uncontrollable: genetics.  We are able to predict and constrain the one thing that seemed out of our grasp: life.  The powers associated with biotechnology can be used for good or for bad; destruction or production.  If the information and technology went into the wrong hands, it is easy to imagine the horrors and destruction that could be caused by bioterrorism.  There are already extensive measures being taken to prepare for or prevent bioterrorist attacks.

http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/bioterrorism/index.html

On the opposite end of the spectrum, many have high hopes and expectations for biotechnology.  The cure and prevention of diseases, the improvement of food, and the overall enhancement of life are all very enticing prospects that deserve to be researched.  

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However, I think people are placing a lot of emphasis hopes and dreams in biotechnology.  We are looking to it as the cure for pain and suffering.  The cure for psychological issues and physical ailments.  We are trying to circumvent pain and suffering and death and all the things that make us…well…human.  

While cloning humans is a foreign and therefor frightening concept to me, I can’t help but think…what’s the point?  Why would you want to recreate someone’s genetic makeup? You are not recreating that person.  To me what makes a person far transcends their genetic predispositions.  It is their personality, their experiences, their hobbies and their beliefs that make them who they are.  I know all these things can be attributed to DNA at some level, but I simply cannot accept that the formation of an individual personality and identity can be traced 100% back to their protein arrangements.  

One of the examples that stands out to me from class is perhaps one that was not very titillating at first glance.  It wasn’t until after class did the connotations hit me.  The example was of the cloned trees raised in different conditions, and how different they turned out.  It proved that genetics weren’t everything.  It showed that the environment and the experience are what define the individual, not the genes.  At the core, all of the trees were identical, but it is quite obvious that they are not the same tree.  Cloning is neat and cool and fun, but there is no way there are going to be 200 “Leah”’s running around tricking my friends and doing my laundry for me anytime soon.  In fact, I think that if someone had my exact genetic makeup as me and they were brought up during this time in history, she would turn out much different from me.

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