Volume 95, Issue 88

Wednesday, March 20, 2002
 
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OPINIONS

And now, the fancy science talkin' gal

Progressive Conservatives not pro-student?

Big thanks to the Western community!

And now, the fancy science talkin' gal

To the Editor:

Cloning has received much public attention since the Roslin Institute, in Scotland, first announced the birth of Dolly the sheep, on Feb. 23, 1997.

While the ensuing media coverage fully explored the ethical implications of cloning, the underlying methodology was largely ignored. In the absence of public education, cloning technology has become obscured by fear and distrust.

As an honours genetics student, I do not condone the practice of human cloning. I do, however, recognize this application of cloning technology will continue to be explored in the absence of legislation.

To legislate, we must first educate. And so, it is my intention to debunk two myths obscuring the issue of human cloning.

First myth: clones are genetically identical. There are many reasons why clones are not genetically identical. The most obvious example is the phenomena of X inactivation in females.

Every female inherits two X chromosomes containing different genes: one from her mother and one from her father. Before a female is born, every cell in her body randomly inactivates one X chromosome.

Thus, all females are made up of billions of cells, each expressing either a maternally or paternally derived X chromosome. Because X-inactivation is a random process in females, scientists cannot duplicate the exact pattern of X inactivation in each cell of a clone. Thus, a female's clone is not genetically identical because she expresses different genes in different cells.

Second myth: Clones will think and behave identically. Even if we pretend a female and her clone are genetically identical, we cannot presume they will be identical with respect to thoughts and feelings. This is because humans are products not only of their DNA, but also of their environment.

Humanity's fascination with itself will continue to drive the development of human cloning technology. Fear and distrust only cloud the real issue underlying human cloning – the complete absence of legislation.

Education is the first step towards legislation. Get involved.

Lise Piatek

Honours Genetics IV


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Copyright The Gazette 2002