Time: 90 minutes
Objectives: Students will:
; Understand the role of democratic decision making in accommodating human
dignity and freedom of thought in the areas of science, medicine, and public
; Learn the issues raised by genetic cloning and the scientific and public policy
terms used to discuss this area of science.
; Explore the tensions between the protection of human dignity and the alleviation
of human suffering raised in the discussion of therapeutic cloning of human cells.
; Analyze the reasons supporting and opposing therapeutic cloning of human cells.
; Identify areas of agreement and disagreement with other students.
; Decide, individually and as a group, whether the government should permit
therapeutic cloning of human cells; support decisions based on evidence and
; Reflect on the value of deliberation when deciding issues in a democracy. Materials Needed: Internet/computer access
Handout 1 – Pros and Cons of Cloning
Handout 2 – Human Cloning Process
Handout 3 – Ethical Issues of Cloning
Handout 4 - Pros/Cons Index Sheet (to be given to students on index
Student Argumentation Sheet
Deliberation Question: Should our democracy permit therapeutic cloning of human cells?
Procedure: 1. (10 minutes) Students discuss the following questions (written on the board
prior to class): What do you think about the idea of cloning (or creating an
exact copy of) humans? What positive effects could this have? What negative
effects could this have? The teacher makes two columns on the board, one
labeled ―positive‖ and one labeled ―negative,‖ under which he or she writes
student responses during this brainstorm. Students should explain their answers
thoroughly. The teacher will go over vocabulary words to ensure that the
students understand the meaning of the terminology that will be used in this
2. (5 minutes) The teacher will show the students a powerpoint on cloning that
will include a video on how cloning takes place. The powerpoint will include key
terms as well as information for the assignment.
http://youtube/hepoJgGJtNc - cloning video
3. (30 minutes) Tell students that each of them should decide for herself or
himself which side of the issue to support. Students will be placed in groups.
The groups should then plan a public service advertisement campaign for or
against cloning. The teacher will provide example of ad for students.
a. Encourage students to use attention-grabbing images and snappy yet
informative language in their ads. Suggest that they might find models of such
images and language in other public service advertisements, such as the ones
that discourage people from smoking. Point out that student ad campaigns can
take the form of posters, buttons, pamphlets, television or radio spots, and
magazine or newspaper advertisements.
b. Have students choose which side they will be on, think through their
arguments, and list what they believe to be the strongest points in their
arguments. Teacher will help place students into groups based on their
c. Allow class time for students to create their ad campaigns, utilizing their
lists. The teacher will provide handouts and index cards with information
pertaining to cloning for students to use in their ad.
4. (15 minutes) Allow class time for each group to present or display their
Closure: (20 minutes) Invite the class to vote on which three campaigns are the most
effective, whether for or against cloning. Discuss what makes the winning
campaigns effective. Is it the compelling logic of the arguments, the persuasive
quality of the language, the forceful quality of the visual images? Assessment: (10 minutes)The students will write a summary based on their campaign ads
that are to include the claim, evidence, reasoning and rebuttal.
•Three points: compelling logical arguments, strong persuasive language,
forceful visual images
•Two points: logical arguments, sufficiently persuasive language, adequate
•One point: some weak arguments, insufficiently persuasive language,
inadequate visual images
Extension: 1. Write a short story or brief drama imagining that you are cloned, discussing
how you would relate to your clone or clones and how daily life would
change for you.
2. Discuss the exact science of cloning. What exactly is cloned, and how do
cells that are cloned then create a duplicate of the parent cell? What aspects
of the new being are not cloned? (e.g., personality, thoughts, memories)
3. Cloning in the News
The U.S. government is currently working fast and furiously to pass whatever
laws are necessary to prevent or delay human cloning experimentation in the
United States. Have your students research the steps that the president and
Congress are taking to make this happen, as well as any current cloning
experiments that are under way. When they have gathered their information,
ask them to synthesize what they have learned into a news briefing for a local
television station. Make sure they summarize all of the important
developments and present them in a clearly written report.
Handout 1 – Pros and Cons of Cloning
When Dolly, the first cloned sheep came in the news, cloning interested the masses. Not only researchers but even common people became interested in knowing about how cloning is done and what pros and cons it has. Everyone became more curious about how cloning could benefit the common man. Most of us want to know the pros and cons of cloning, its advantages and its potential risks to mankind. Let us understand them.
Pros of Cloning
Cloning finds applications in genetic fingerprinting, amplification of DNA and alteration of the genetic makeup of organisms. It can be used to bring about desired changes in the genetic makeup of individuals thereby introducing positive traits in them, as also for elimination of negative traits. Cloning can also be applied to plants to remove or alter defective genes, thereby making them resistant to diseases. Cloning may find applications in development of human organs, thus making human life safer. Here we look at some of the potential advantages of cloning.
Organ Replacement: If vital organs of the human body can be cloned, they can serve as backup systems for human beings. Cloning body parts can serve as a lifesaver. When a body organ such as a kidney or heart fails to function, it may be possible to replace it with the cloned body organ.
Substitute for Natural Reproduction: Cloning in human beings can prove to be a
solution to infertility. Cloning can serve as an option for producing children. With cloning, it would be possible to produce certain desired traits in human beings. We might be able to produce children with certain qualities. Wouldn't that be close to creating a man-made being?!
Help in Genetic Research: Cloning technologies can prove helpful to researchers in genetics. They might be able to understand the composition of genes and the effects of genetic constituents on human traits, in a better manner. They will be able to alter genetic constituents in cloned human beings, thus simplifying their analysis of genes. Cloning may also help us combat a wide range of genetic diseases.
Obtain Specific Traits in Organisms: Cloning can make it possible for us to obtain
customized organisms and harness them for the benefit of society. It can serve as the best means to replicate animals that can be used for research purposes. It can enable the genetic alteration of plants and animals. If positive changes can be brought about in living beings with the help of cloning, it will indeed be a boon to mankind. Cons of Cloning
Like every coin has two sides, cloning has its flip side too. Though cloning may work wonders in genetics, it has potential disadvantages. Cloning, as you know, is copying or replicating biological traits in organisms. Thus it might reduce the diversity in
nature. Imagine multiple living entities like one another! Another con of cloning is that it is not clear whether we will be able to bring all the potential uses of cloning into reality. Plus, there's a big question of whether the common man will afford harnessing cloning technologies to his benefit. Here we look at the potential disadvantages of cloning.
Detrimental to Genetic Diversity: Cloning creates identical genes. It is a process of
replicating a genetic constitution, thus hampering the diversity in genes. While lessening the diversity in genes, we weaken our ability of adaptation. Cloning is also detrimental to the beauty that lies in diversity.
Invitation to Malpractices: While cloning allows man to tamper with genetics in
human beings, it also makes deliberate reproduction of undesirable traits, a probability. Cloning of body organs might invite malpractices in society.
Will this Technology Reach the Common Man?: In cloning human organs and using
them for transplant, or in cloning human beings themselves, technical and economic barriers will have to be considered. Will cloned organs be cost-effective? Will cloning techniques really reach the common man?
Man, a Man-made Being?: Moreover, cloning will put human and animal rights at
stake. Will cloning fit into our ethical and moral principles? It will make man just another man-made being. Won't it devalue mankind? Won't it demean the value of human life?
Handout 2 - Human Cloning Process
Cloning is the creation of an exact genetic copy of any organism. There exist different kinds of cloning processes which are important in the decision of legal and ethical issues. Before we speak of the technical matters, there are a few things that need understanding.
The Need for Human Cloning
One of the key issues that science throws up through genetic engineering is making a better tomorrow, or in fact, improving the flaws gifted by Nature so we are promised better offspring. The bottom line here remains that there has to be complete human control over genetics in order to justify the scientific procedure of cloning. There are a multitude of such justifications that are put up and here are some that are the typical examples:
1.People can have clones of themselves who are carbon copies and can do more of their work and achieve more in the world.
2.The lines of death and life can be blurred as anybody can be easily replaced by a genetically identical clone.
3.Sickness can be cured because the same kind of marrow, blood type, etc., will be easily available with a clone.
4.Clones can be produced with lower or higher mental capacities that would be similar to human robots for performing specialized tasks or even labor.
5.Genetic disorders can be curbed and even removed with this process. 6.Scientific curiosity can be satisfied and one will be able to learn from scientific discoveries.
The Process of Cloning
Cloning is a method actually "cloned" from a process that occurs in nature commonly seen in bacteria which multiply by splitting themselves in half and each of the cells are complete organisms by themselves which share the same DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). These bacteria reproduce asexually but are genetically similar and thus are clones of each other in all respects. However, during sexual reproduction, the process is very different when the nucleus of a sperm cell carrying the male DNA impregnates the nucleus of the egg cell containing the female DNA. The resulting offspring thus carries genetic traits from both parents even if they themselves are not identical to the parents.
In the process of cloning, to create the cloned cells, there exists differing methods that depend on the kinds of cells to be cloned and the results desired. Cloning an animal is very different from cloning a human gene. When cloning an animal, a nucleus of a cell containing chromosomes made up of DNA protein is placed into an egg cell or oocyte from which the nucleus has been removed. This egg cell divides to produce the embryo that in turn develops into the animal. Thus cloning an animal involves creating an exact genetic copy of the parent cells. This technique is called nuclear transfer or nuclear transplantation.
However, the process of cloning humans the gene is needed to be first isolated from the genome and this DNA sequence is copied into a smaller piece of DNA, for example a plasmid. This separation makes complex beings simpler to reciprocate through cloning.
Types of Cloning Technologies
1.DNA cloning or Recombinant DNA technology
The third process of cloning raises some questions about the abstract, about the interference with Nature and with God. This was the theological argument by Richard Seed that we as humans are justified in controlling our destiny and our reproductive process. However, President Clinton countered this argument with another theological debate while banning the process of cloning, saying that we are trying to "play God". In fact, this is the very argument that bans human cloning in many countries. Bioethics remains a hot topic of debate between the scientific community and various organizations and individuals worldwide.
The way that the proponents of cloning humans go, we are indeed trying to play God. Just as most inventions used for destruction were never meant to be for that purpose, the process of human cloning that seems to have a clean agenda can easily turn tables to become a reason for destruction and quick riches. Eugenic experiments of this sort, though, would underline the autonomous choice but they are also demeaning to humans besides being plain selfish and odious, they may prove overtly dangerous in the wrong hands.
Human cloning remains a scientific miracle and while we have successfully cloned animals, we must at the same time, focus on the fact that on the other hand we are constantly abusing Nature. Nothing can save us from extinction if we destroy what we have, even if we think of regeneration through the miracle of science. It is thus more important to channelize our energies and resources into benefiting the human society.
Handout 3 - Ethical Issues of Cloning
In the movie Jurassic Park, based on the best-selling book of the same name by Michael Crichton, scientists clone dinosaurs by using the DNA that was preserved for millions of years. However, there is trouble when the cloned dinosaurs turn out fiercer and smarter than expected. Can dinosaurs really be cloned? Theoretically, they can; all that would be required is DNA from an extinct dinosaur and a currently living closely related species which would act as a surrogate mother. In fact, there is ongoing research to clone the Woolly Mammoth by extracting the DNA from frozen animals. Actually, cloning is a phenomenon that occurs naturally in a wide variety of species from aphids to armadillos, to poplar trees, to bacteria. Whenever you see a pair of identical twins, they are examples of nature's clones. Although scientists have been cloning certain organisms like the carrot quite successfully for decades, attempts to clone animals have not been as successful. However, they began long before the birth of Dolly, the sheep - the first mammal to be successfully cloned. There were sporadic successes at cloning other animals, like CC (abbreviation for 'copycat'), the first cat to be cloned, an Asian gaur, an endangered species, which Bessie, a cow, gave birth to, and way back in the 1960s', frogs being cloned, albeit with limited success. In fact, in the 1980s, some companies tried commercializing the cloning of livestock by the process of taking the nuclei from fetuses and embryos. These efforts generally resulted in failure because the newborns usually did not survive for long due to being unhealthy. Livestock cloning, currently, is still in the process of research. However, it is generally accepted that in time the scientific viability of producing healthy clones will become a reality.
Although cloning other species does give rise to some misgivings, whether reviving extinct or endangered species, or to reproduce a dead pet, the prospect of cloning humans artificially is one of the most controversial debates that the human species has been pondering about, raising a number of ethical issues involved. In fact, the social impact of producing humans artificially was brilliantly explored in the famous novel Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, and also in the movie The Island.
Human cloning is basically about creating a genetically identical replica of a previously existing or existing person. Why would anybody opt to clone human beings? Well, generally, it will be one more option by which infertile couples can have children. Replacing a deceased child is also another reason why some people have expressed interest in the procedure.
There are various methods of human cloning: embryo cloning, reproductive cloning and therapeutic cloning. There is another method known as replacement cloning, which at present exists only in theory. It is a combination of both reproductive and therapeutic cloning. Replacement cloning involves replacing a body that has been extensively damaged, or has failed, or is in the process of failing, followed by transplanting the brain either partially or entirely. This procedure has been projected as a way of greatly extending human lifespan.
Embryo Cloning: In this procedure, identical twins are produced, basically by reproducing how twins are created naturally. A few cells are extracted from a fertilized embryo, which are induced to develop into duplicate embryos. The twins that are thus formed have identical DNA. Although this procedure has been used on various animal species, there has been only limited experimentation done on humans. Reproductive Cloning: In this procedure, the DNA is removed from an ovum and
replaced with the DNA extracted from a cell taken from an adult animal. Next, the fertilized ovum, which is called a pre-embryo now, is implanted in a womb, which then develops into a new animal. Thus, this procedure basically produces a duplicate of an existing person. Based on studies done on animals, it results in animals being born with severe genetic defects. This is the main reason why many in the medical field think it to be a profoundly unethical procedure to be carried out on humans. It is specifically banned in many countries. However, there are rumors that this procedure has been used successfully to initiate a pregnancy by the controversial Italian embryologist, Dr Severino Antinori.
Therapeutic Cloning: The initial stages of this procedure are practically the same as Reproductive Cloning. However, in this, the stem cells are extracted from the pre-embryo, with the intention of generating a whole organ or tissue, so that it can be transplanted back into the person who gave the DNA. The pre-embryo, however, dies during the process. The aim is to create a healthy organ or tissue of a sick person, in order to transplant it into them, instead of relying on organs from other people. This eliminates the need of waiting lists for organs, and since the organ has the same DNA as the donor, there is no need to take immunosuppressive drugs, as is required now after transplantation.
At this nascent stage of cloning, there is no consensus yet about the ethical issues that are thrown up by the process of the destruction of human embryos, so that stem cells can be collected. Many conservative Christians and others concerned about the ethical issues, think that the embryo is equivalent to a human being right at conception, and should be given the same rights. Since the process involved in the removal of DNA is similar to the process of conventional conception, because both create a pre-embryo, it is thought that the pre-embryo is a human person. In therapeutic cloning, the process of extracting stem cells, therefore, is equivalent to murdering the human being. Religious and ethically conservative people think it is ethically wrong to kill one person so that another person's life can be extended or saved.
Others, however, are of the opinion that the embryo does not require any particular moral consideration, because at the stage when it is cloned, it is just a bunch of cells that contain DNA, and are not very different from the millions of skin cells that we shed every day. The embryonic cells at that stage cannot be considered equivalent to a human being because it does not have a brain, thoughts, self-awareness, memory, awareness of its environment, sensory organs, internal organs, legs, arms, and so on. They think that the embryo attains human personhood much later during gestation, perhaps at the point when the brain develops so that it becomes aware of itself.
Clone - Definition: An exact genetic replica of a living being.
Context: Two human clones would have the same genetic structure, but they
would probably have different personalities.
Embryology - Definition: The study of the development of the individual from egg to birth or
Context: Embryologists are crucial to the development of cloning technology. Ethical - Definition: Relating to or involving questions of right and wrong.
Context: The idea of cloning human beings raises ethical and moral concerns. Genes - Definition: The building blocks of DNA, which serve as transmitters of
Context: Genes control the transmission of hereditary traits in living beings. Genetic Engineering - Definition: The process of altering a living being's genes to create a
Context: Genetic engineering can produce a redder tomato, a taller giraffe, or a
cow that gives more milk.
Nucleus - Definition: The control center of a cell.
Context: The nucleus is where the cell's genetic information is contained. Transgenic - Definition: The process of replacing the nucleus of one animal's cell with the
nucleus of a different animal's cell.
Context: Transgenic scientists have inserted a human nucleus into a sheep cell