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Advancements in Cloning: From Pets and Cows to Ethical Considerations in Military Applications

Introduction:

Cloning technology has come a long way since its inception, evolving from the cloning of pets and livestock to potential applications in military settings. This article explores the advancements in cloning technology, delving into its journey from cloning pets and cows to the ethical considerations that arise when discussing its potential use in military applications.

 

Understanding Cloning

 

Cloning is the process of taking genetic information from one living thing and creating identical copies of it. The copied material is called a clone. Geneticists have cloned cells, tissues, genes and entire animals.

There are several different types of cloning, including:

  1. Reproductive Cloning: This involves creating an exact genetic copy of an individual organism. This was first achieved in 1997 with the birth of Dolly the Sheep.
  2. Therapeutic Cloning: Therapeutic cloning creates embryonic stem cells, which are used to create tissues that can repair or replace damaged tissues. This type of cloning involves creating cloned cells or tissues that can be used to treat disease or injury.
  3. Gene Cloning: Also called DNA cloning This involves making many copies of a specific gene , or segments of DNA. This is commonly used in genetic engineering and biotechnology research.
  4. Organism Cloning: This refers to the production of identical plants through cloning techniques such as stem cell division and tissue culture.

 

Although this process may seem futuristic, nature has been doing it for millions of years. For example, identical twins have almost identical DNA, and asexual reproduction in some plants and organisms can produce genetically identical offspring. And scientists make genetic doubles in the lab, though the process is a little different.

 

In reproductive cloning, a genetic engineer removes a mature somatic cell (any cell except for reproductive cells) from an organism and transfers the DNA into an egg cell that has had its own DNA removed, according to the NHGRI. Then, the egg is jump-started chemically to start the reproductive process. Finally, the egg is implanted into the uterus of a female of the same species as the egg. The mother gives birth to an animal that has the same genetic makeup as the animals that donated the somatic cell. This was the process that produced Dolly the sheep.

 

Since Dolly, many more animal clones have been born, and the process is becoming more mainstream. Research has also been conducted on human-cell cloning. It is important to note that cloning does not involve creating a duplicate of an individual with the same memories, personality, and experiences. It only creates a genetic copy.

Several companies are currently providing services that use cloning technology. For example, South Korea-based Sooam Biotech clones pets for around $100,000. And a Texas-based company, Viagen Pets, clones cats for $25,000 and dogs for $50,000.

Cloning Pets and Livestock:

Cloning initially gained public attention through the cloning of beloved pets, offering individuals the possibility of replicating their cherished animal companions. Subsequently, the focus shifted to livestock cloning, where it found applications in improving the breeding and genetic traits of cattle, sheep, and other animals. These advancements paved the way for further exploration into the cloning field.

Scientific Progress and Technological Innovations:

Driven by scientific curiosity and the desire for technological advancements, researchers have made significant progress in refining cloning techniques. Improvements in somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), epigenetic reprogramming, and cellular reprogramming have increased cloning efficiency and success rates, opening up new possibilities for cloning technology.

Cloning technology advancements

Cloning technology has advanced significantly in recent years. Here are some of the most significant advancements in cloning:

  1. Improved Cloning Efficiency: In the early days of cloning, the success rate was very low, but recent advancements have greatly increased the efficiency of cloning. For example, the development of new techniques such as somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) have made it possible to produce cloned animals with a much higher success rate.
  2. Advancements in Stem Cell Research: Cloning technology has played a key role in the advancement of stem cell research. For example, therapeutic cloning has allowed for the production of patient-specific stem cells, which can be used to treat a wide range of diseases and injuries.
  3. Development of Organoid Technology: This is a new area of research that involves growing functional organ-like structures from stem cells. Organoids have been produced from many different organs, including the brain, liver, and pancreas. This technology has the potential to revolutionize the study of disease and the development of new treatments.
  4. Increased Understanding of the Cloning Process: As cloning technology has advanced, so has our understanding of the underlying biology and biochemistry of the cloning process. This increased understanding has opened up new avenues for research and has laid the foundation for even more advanced cloning techniques in the future.

Despite its potential benefits, cloning remains a controversial and complex issue. It is important to approach cloning with caution and to carefully consider the ethical, moral, and social implications of this technology.

For deeper understanding of Cloning technology and applications please visit: Cloning: Unraveling the Science, Ethics, and Potential Applications

Cloning Applications

Cloning has the potential to revolutionize medicine and agriculture, but it also raises many ethical and moral questions. For example, reproductive cloning raises questions about the definition of parenthood and the rights of cloned individuals. Additionally, there are concerns about the safety of cloning, as well as the potential for abuse and exploitation.

 

In terms of medical applications, cloning could be used to produce cells, tissues, and organs for transplantation, which would greatly increase the availability of these life-saving treatments. Cloning could also be used to study the development of diseases and to test new drugs and treatments.

 

In agriculture, cloning could be used to produce identical, high-quality crops and livestock, making food production more efficient and reliable.

There are many other applications for cloning. The movie “Jurassic Park” stirred the public’s imagination and asked the question, “Can we use cloning to bring back extinct species through cloning?” For this process to be successful, scientists would need living DNA from the extinct animal and a living animal egg that is closely related to the extinct creature.

 

On July 30, 2003, a group of scientists led by Jose Folch at the Center of Food Technology and Research of Aragon, in northern Spain, brought back an extinct wild goat called a bucardo, or Pyrenean ibex. The cloned animal lived for only 10 minutes, according to National Geographic, but the scientists proved that an extinct animal could be brought back. Researchers at Harvard are currently working to clone woolly mammoths.

 

In many countries, including the United States, farmers breed clones with conventional animals to add desirable traits, such as high milk production or disease resistance, into the gene pool.

China has made significant progress in animal cloning in recent years.

In Jan 2023 it was reported that Chinese scientists have successfully cloned three “super cows” that can produce an unusually high amount of milk, state media reported, hailing it as a breakthrough for China’s dairy industry to reduce its dependence on imported breeds.

 

They were cloned from highly productive cows from the Holstein Friesian breed, which originated in the Netherlands. The chosen animals are capable of producing 18 tons of milk per year, or 100 tons of milk in their lifetimes. That is nearly 1.7 times the amount of milk an average cow in the United States produced in 2021, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

 

The first of the cloned calves was born on December 30 by cesarean section due to its relatively large size of 56.7 kilograms (120 pounds), an official in the city of Wulin in Ningxia told the state-run Technology Daily. The scientists made 120 cloned embryos from the ear cells of the highly productive cows and placed them in surrogate cows, according to the Technology Daily.

 

In 2022 a Chinese animal cloning company created the world’s first cloned Arctic wolf. In January 2018, scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences published the birth of Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua, the first macaques cloned by the Dolly method.  Chinese researchers created the first cloned monkeys copied from a genetically modified specimen, which carries an altered gene related to the biological clock. This advance illustrates one of the greatest current uses of reproductive cloning: the creation of experimental animal models for the study of diseases. In a conversation with OpenMind, George Seidel, Professor Emeritus from Colorado State University (USA) and a biotechnology expert in animal reproduction, explained that the advantage of SCNT in these cases is that “one does all of the molecular biology work with cells in vitro, and when the desired change is made, one uses the cells to make a clone with the desired change, and that animal can then be used for making additional animals from more conventional breeding methods.”

From Livestock to Military Applications:

The potential for cloning technology to be used in military applications has sparked interest and raised intriguing possibilities. While it is important to approach this topic with caution and ethical considerations, discussions have arisen regarding the creation of cloned soldiers for an undefeatable army.

Some of the general medical applications of cloning could obviously be useful to the military too – cloning organisms engineered to produce useful proteins, and production of stem cells, or even grow .

Mlitary and police dogs like  Malinois, German Shepherd, Belgian Shepherd, and Labradors are specially trained for their jobs. Only some dogs are up to the task, but like training seeing-eye guide dogs, it’s difficult to know in advance and many dogs will wash out of training as expensive failures, with even fewer being able to handle the extreme life of a Special Forces dog; then they may get injured on the job, develop hip dysplasia or cancer, cutting short their career, and leading to perennial shortages. If you have a successful SF dog… maybe the clone will be much more likely to succeed than a random puppy picked from one of the usual breeders, and you can make as many clones as necessary long after the original has gone to Dog Heaven. In 2014, Bloomberg reported on an interesting aspect of Sooam Biotech, the famous South Korean dog cloning company: they were cloning a Special Forces dog.

 

Militaries also want to clone their perfect soldiers so that they can produce  an undefeatable army. However with current technology limitations, clones need to be grown therefore they have to wait until the clones have grown mature enough  and they are sufficiently trained so they are feasibly ready for work or combat. In addition,  neither the scientific community or the legislation of many countries have approved the creation of cloned humans.

 

Another great application, once we’ve progressed enough that we can rapidly age individuals and create an instantaneous carbon copy of someone important, say, the US ambassador to Russia, and clone them. The clone would be a decoy, say on dangerous trips or urgent meetings. This could greatly increase security, practical applications, and health for both, as one is not more stressed than the other (This is assuming that the good interpersonal skills and ability for diplomacy could be taught rapidly).

 

China’s Sinogene Biotechnology Company has unveiled the nation’s first cloned cat, however, it says the next level will be to use artificial intelligence to transfer memories from a beloved pet to its clone. Sinogene’s general manager told attendees at a press conference in August 2019 that “to make the cloned animal share the same memories with the original, the company is considering the use of artificial intelligence or man-machine interface technology to store them or even pass the memories to cloned animals,” wrote the Global Times, a paper run by the Chinese communist party.

 

Therefore cloning has got a lot of great possibilities, like stunt doubling in politics, mass-produced superarmies, distractions and decoys, etc., but the ethical and technological issues behind them are so prohibitive that feasible and efficient military cloning technology will be hard to find for quite a while.

Ethical Considerations:

When contemplating cloning’s application in military settings, ethical considerations must take center stage. Cloning humans for military purposes raises questions about the value of human life, individual autonomy, and the potential for exploitation. The ethical implications surrounding the creation of a perfect army through cloning demand careful examination and public discourse.

Moral Responsibility and International Agreements:

The international community plays a crucial role in shaping the ethical landscape of cloning in military applications. Existing agreements and treaties addressing human rights, genetic engineering, and weapons development should be considered when contemplating the use of cloning technology for military purposes. These frameworks provide a basis for discussions on the boundaries and limitations of cloning in the military context.

Beyond Cloning: Ethical Technological Advances:

While the focus on cloning in military applications is attention-grabbing, it is essential to acknowledge other ethical technological advances that contribute to military strategies. Advancements in robotics, artificial intelligence, and cybernetics also play significant roles in shaping the future of warfare. Exploring these alternatives alongside cloning provides a broader perspective on ethical considerations in military applications.

Conclusion:

Advancements in cloning technology have expanded its potential applications, raising intriguing possibilities and ethical dilemmas. From the cloning of pets and livestock to the contemplation of cloning for military purposes, the field continues to evolve. Ethical considerations, public engagement, and international agreements are vital in ensuring responsible and ethical use of cloning technology, especially in military applications. By fostering informed discussions, we can navigate the complex landscape of cloning and its ethical boundaries, ultimately shaping a future where scientific progress and ethical considerations walk hand in hand.

 

About Rajesh Uppal

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