Tuesday, 16 August 2011

What Lay People Should Know about Cloning – Ethical and Legal Issues (technical) [Part 2]

by Zad Datu


Preceeding linked article (Read first!):
What Lay People Should Know about Cloning – Animal Reproductive Cloning
What Lay People Should Know about Cloning – Other Types of Cloning
What Lay People Should Know about Cloning – Fear Fuelled Objections (opinion) [Part 1] [Part 2]



Return to [Part 1 ( of 3)]


World Cloning Laws
In reaction to Dolly, the UN General Assembly proposed to adopt “all measures necessary to prohibit all forms of human cloning inasmuch as they are incompatible with human dignity and the protection of human life” on 8th March, 2005. US, Germany and Italy amongst 84 countries in total voted in favour of the declaration, UK and South Korea amongst 34 countries in total voted against, 37 countries abstained and, 35 were absent resulting in majority of the members not passing the declaration hence not adopted.

This international ban of human reproductive cloning was, in fact, also supported and called for by the Royal Society, UK’s most respected and national academy of science expressed by the Lord May of Oxford, president of the society, in a press conference on 22nd September, 2003 endorsed by more than 60 science academies around the world. The statement also urges that a ban should not extend to therapeutic cloning.

The protocol on cloning of The Council of Europe states that “any intervention seeking to create a human being genetically identical to another human being, whether living or dead is prohibited” as part of The Council’s 1997 Convention on Human Rights. This does ban human cloning but not necessarily therapeutic cloning, hence it is left to the interpretation of the individual national Parliaments of what is meant by a ‘human being’ to permit or prohibit therapeutic cloning in European countries.

There is no legal ban on therapeutic cloning specifically by the EU, but they will not fund research which uses SCNT. They ban the funding human of cloning but support that of embryonic stem cell research where it is permitted.  The EU allows the decision for the countries themselves to choose which embryonic stem cell research to fund with the requirement that it is carefully regulated, peer reviewed, scientifically and ethically sound.

The following table lists out the overview policies of embryonic stem cell research, therapeutic cloning and human reproductive cloning among counties which has passed legislation on the technologies:


Countries
Embryonic Stem Cell Research
Therapeutic Cloning
Human Reproductive Cloning
North America
Canada
permitted
banned
banned
Costa Rica
banned
banned
banned
El Salvador?
banned
banned
banned
Panama
-
banned
banned
Trinidad and Tobago
banned
banned
banned
United States
ban lifted in 2009
13 state bans
5 state bans
South America
Argentina
permitted
banned
banned
Brazil
permitted
banned
banned
Chile
-
banned
banned
Columbia
-
banned
banned
Ecuador?
banned
banned
banned
Peru
-
banned
banned
Uruguay
-
-
banned
Europe
Austria
banned
banned
banned
Belgium
permitted
permitted
banned
Czech Republic?
permitted
from unused IVF
banned
banned
Denmark
-
banned
banned
Estonia?
permitted
banned
banned
Finland
permitted
permitted
banned
France
permitted
banned
banned
Georgia
-
banned
banned
Germany
banned
banned
banned
Greece
permitted
-
banned
Hungary?
-
banned
banned
Iceland
permitted
from unused IVF
banned
banned
Ireland
banned
banned
banned
Italy
banned
banned
banned
Latvia
permitted
banned
banned
Lithuania?
banned
banned
banned
Netherlands
banned
banned
banned
Norway
banned
banned
banned
Poland?
banned
banned
banned
Portugal
permitted
banned
banned
Russian Federation
-
banned
banned
Slovakia
-
banned
banned
Slovenia?
-
banned
banned
Spain
permitted
banned
banned
Sweden
permitted
permitted
banned
Switzerland
permitted
from excess AI
banned
banned
Turkey?
-
permitted
banned
Ukraine?
-
-
banned
United Kingdom
permitted
permitted
banned
Asia
China
permitted
permitted
banned
India
permitted
permitted
banned
Japan?
permitted
permitted
banned
Singapore
permitted
permitted
banned
South Korea?
permitted
permitted
banned
Taiwan?
permitted
from excess AI
banned
banned
Thailand
permitted
permitted
banned
Vietnam
-
banned
banned
Oceania
Australia
permitted
permitted
banned
New Zealand
permitted
permitted
banned
Middle East
Egypt
-
-
banned
Iran?
permitted
-
-
Israel
permitted
permitted
banned
Africa
South Africa
permitted
banned
banned
Tunisia
-
banned
banned

Note: (-) indicatesmeans that there are no particular law permitting or prohibiting the technology.


Well over 30 countries have banned human reproductive cloning all together, and there are no countries which permit reproductive cloning of human beings by legislation or guidelines, but for the other countries which have not passed legislation on human reproductive cloning, essentially it is legal. In the United States, 13 states (Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Iowa, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, North Dakota, New Jersey, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Virginia) ban reproductive cloning, which means that it is legal in the other 37 states.

Among the 13 states, Arizona, Maryland and Missouri prohibit the use of public funds for such activities therapeutic cloning. In total, 14 countries permit therapeutic cloning but have banned human reproductive cloning. UK laws permits therapeutic cloning required that the embryo must be destroyed at age 14 days. In North America, South America and Europe majority of the countries which have passed legislation on therapeutic cloning bans them, whereas in Asia and Oceania the opposite is true.

Among the countries which have passed legislation on embryonic stem cell research, there is a well mix in permitting and prohibiting the technology. Some of the countries which ban human reproductive cloning do not explicitly prohibit or permit embryonic stem cell research partially because their legislation was drafted before embryonic stem cells were first produced (1998).

Resources for this section:
http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0013/001342/134277e.pdf
http://cnx.org/content/m14836/1.1/?format=pdf
http://cnx.org/content/m14834/1.1/?format=pdf


Reactions on Animal Reproductive Cloning
The debate of the whether to clone is to play god, and whether to kill an embryo is to disrespect the value of human life  should be left aside because the true centre of debate on human cloning is not of such issues. It is of more near to earth practical issues. It is about whether the current technology of human cloning has sufficient success rate, as this may produce unhealthy or deformed human babies.

277 mammary gland cells were used to produce Dolly, out of which only 29 grew into developing embryos which were placed into 13 surrogate mothers, and out of which only one embryo survived to produce Dolly, and Dolly herself suffered from arthritis developed at a relatively early age of five and a half years, and is said to have signs of premature ageing when scientists noticed that the cells in Dolly’s body showed signs of wear more typical of an older animal. She later died at the age of six on 14th February 2003, half the life expectancy of her breed. In fact, since Dolly, scientists at the Roslin institute find difficulties to repeat their success.

This 1-out-of-277 figure is intriguing, making it sounds as if only 1 out of 277 experiments succeeded. The fact is not that it took 277 attempts to produce one cloned sheep – it is that all these 277 mammary glands were from a single experiment which resulted in a success.

Dolly’s death often seems to be publicised as a result of arthritis or premature ageing as a result of being a clone. Many speculate that this premature ageing may be due to the older adult cell from a six-year-old sheep of which she was made from. The truth is that no matter how many times men have been producing new sperm over and over again (and ova for women), the DNA in the sperm as well as every part of their body have been dividing since their father’s sperm fertilised their mother’s ovum – in affect no matter how new or old the cells are, the DNA is the same age. Dolly did not die from premature ageing; neither did she die from arthritis as it was successfully treated with anti-inflammatory drugs. Dolly was even bred with a Welsh Mountain ram producing six young.

Dolly developed a form of lung cancer called Jaagsekte. Scientists at Roslin doubt the illness had any connection with the fact that she is a clone because this disease and deaths due to this disease are common among sheep. Sheep at risk of this disease are those that are kept indoors for long periods – exactly the case with Dolly. She was kept indoors for the majority of her life for security reasons.  She did not die as a direct result of disease as well. She was subjected to euthanasia.

Most nuclear transfers fail to start growing into embryos or fail to be successfully implanted into the womb, and for those of which succeeds into a foetus, many die before birth due to abnormality which couldn’t be detected through ultrasound. Many also tend to die weeks, days and sometimes just hours after birth. Reports of abnormality of clones the various species around the world varies from abnormalities, and appearing healthy at a young age is not a good indicator of long-term survival as clones have been known to die mysteriously. Not many clones have lived long enough to generate sufficient data about the ageing of clones.

EndAnimalCloning.org presents the facts of the problems of animal cloning as shown below:

Consumer’s reaction to animal cloning
  • 67% of Americans disapprove of cloning animals for food.
  • Disapproval increases to 88% upon learning that animal suffering is involved.
  • The majority of Americans think it is morally wrong to clone animals, and 63% would not buy cloned food even if it were labelled as ‘safe.’
  • Numerous dairies, food producers, and retailers have declared that they do not want to use products from cloned animals or their offspring.
  • The dairy industry has said that there is no consumer benefit in animal cloning.
Success rate
  • Roslin Institute (2002) – Typically only 0% - 3% of SCNT will produce live births, usually by caesarean section.
  • Ian Wilmut (2002, 2003) – Those which survive births, a small percentage are healthy enough to live for more than a few days or weeks.
  • Texas A&M bovine study (2000) – Out of 322 SCNT, 17% (about 54) developed into embryos, in which 26 were implanted; and 6 foetuses survived after 40 days, but only 1 survived after 290 days; this calf had metabolic and cardiopulmonary abnormalities, diabetes mellitus, susceptible to severe immune-system deficiencies.
  • 2007 study – 18% cloned calves died at birth; 32% of those survived died within the first month. 
Surrogate mothers and their foetuses
  • FDA (2006) – Hydrops (a typically fatal condition in which the animal swells with fluid) occurs in 28% of cow calf clones, whereas are very rare for that of from artificial insemination (non clones).
  • Cyagra, a biotech company leading the push for cloned foods (2007) – 50% of cow calf clones suffered hydrops.
  • Research farm in France (2002) – 45% of pregnancies are lost in second or third trimester, which is uncommon in conventional pregnancies.
  • Cyagra (2007) – 54% of surrogate mother requires caesarean section; 30% requires non-surgical intervention, whereas less than 1% for that of from artificial insemination.
  • Newborn clones FDA (2006) – Newborn calf clones suffers respiratory distress; hypoglycaemia; weakened immune systems; developmental problems; deformities including squashed faces, contracted tendons, limbs bended wrong way; malformed livers, kidney or hearts; a variety of ailments – causing 1/3 of deaths of newborns.
  • Cyagra (2007) – 37% of cloned calves who survive birth had enlarge umbilical cords; 19% had respiratory problems; 20% exhibited signs of depression; 17% hyper- or hypothermic; 75% required antibiotics; ≈50% of all surviving birth died within the first 5 months
  • FDA (2006) – Large Offspring Syndrome (LOS) occurs over 50% of calf clones, whereas only 5% for that of from conventional breeding.
  • Ian Wilmut’s and colleagues (1998) – LOS commonly observed one reaching up to 5 times the size. 2002 study – 3 of 12 surrogate mothers died during pregnancy.
  • FDA (2006) – Calves living longer than 6 months appearing healthy is known to suffer unexpected health consequences later in life.
  • FDA (2006) – Reproductive performance of cloned animals may be impaired (measure by sperm characteristic, ejaculate volume, pregnancy rate, and abortion rate).

Other reports presented on the site include “Offspring of cloned animals”, “Industrial farm animal production” and “FDA Risk Assessment”. EndAnimalCloning.org also makes a point that animal cloning threatens genetic diversity, leaving farm animals vulnerable to diseases.

These reports are by scientists who perform animal cloning themselves, where for that reason are mostly very much against human cloning due to this, and condemn those who attempts human at this stage. But some are open to human cloning once the technology is reliable as they believe that it will not disrupt our humanity, but some believe that it may and hence are against human cloning all together.

Continue to [Part 3 (of 3)]
Sections in the part 3:
  • Human Cloning Attempts
  • Human Cloning Debates
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