Twice as nice?

There is a wrinkle of worry spreading across my forehead as I study my face: the freckles dusting my nose, the dark half moons under my amber eyes, the dimple on my left cheek. All these things make me- well me. And yet, as I reach out to touch my reflection in the mirror, instead of glass I feel the warmth of human touch meet my fingers. The girl I study is not my mirror image. She is my clone.

Photo and illustration credit by Walt Campbell

No, this is not a horror story. It is a very probable reality. According to the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), “the term cloning describes a number of different processes that can be used to produce genetically-identical copies of a biological entity.” To me, reproductive cloning, in which the entire organism is cloned, poses the most imminent threat to society. The vague effects of cloning combined with its ethical implications of manufacturing life, deem it necessary to control advancements in the field.

To fully comprehend the impact of an engineered society, imagine a world in which 1,000 people have Zac Efron as their father. For some, this would be a fulfillment of their wildest romantic fantasies. For me, it is a cloning nightmare. The New York Times predicts that this may become possible in about 10 to 20 years. Scientists could take the DNA of human skin cells and put this DNA into an egg cell, which could then be fertilized by a sperm cell, according to the NHGRI . This means that all people would need to do is obtain a skin cell from Zac Efron (which are shed virtually everywhere we go) and BOOM, little Efrons everywhere.

However, the problem lies not only with the ethics of the scientists performing the “experiment,” but with the clones themselves. History has shown that sometimes Mother Nature doesn’t like to be messed with.

Living for just six years half the average life expectancy of a sheep Dolly was the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell, according to NHGRI. When scientists clone an animal from an adult cell, the tips of chromosomes are already “old,” or shorter, so in essence, the clone is already born with an age.

With this in mind, why should we try to create humans out of preexisting DNA? The NHGRI also adds that Dolly was the only cloned embryo out of 277 to live past birth. Thus, it is unconscionable to create a person a living, feeling, thinking being without knowing if they will be healthy, able to function or live a normal life. Because attheendoftheday,a life is a life and has value, even a cloned one. Until scientists can eliminate the uncertainty surrounding the results of a human cloning, attempts at trying to do so should be halted.

In addition, being able to mass produce people with at least half of the same DNA mocks the miracle of life and the uniqueness of the individual. Zac Efron’s eyes would be less attractive and special if 1,000 other people, or clones, had the same exact ones. While this is an extreme example, the same thought process applies to a more common situation.

Every person has their quirks, little things that separate one person from the next. My grandfather was one-of- a-kind, to say the least. Besides being absolutely brilliant, he loved vanilla milkshakes from McDonald’s, Saturday morning comics and jeopardy. When he died, I was devastated. In times of loss, many argue that cloning could bring back the people we’ve lost, the people we’ve loved the most. However, personality is not entirely genetic; it is also largely influenced by our environment and to me, God. Yes, a clone of my grandfather would look just like him, but it wouldn’t be him.

With our hands touching, my clone and I study each other. As I look into her empty eyes, I don’t see myself anymore; I see a stranger. Yes, she has my wiry brown hair, but she doesn’t have my laugh when I see a funny commerical , or my love of honey roasted peanuts. Because she isn’t me. And she never will be.

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