If you had the possibility of bringing back your most beloved pet back to life, would you? That is exactly what Edgar and Nina Otto did with their dog Lancelot. You can watch an interview of the couple below and see for yourself.
According to an article from CNN, the couple was not ready to say goodbye to their former dog who died at 11½ years of age due to cancer, so they cloned him (Phillips, 2009). How was this process completed, you may ask. Essentially, the original Lancelot’s DNA was extracted and placed into a surrogate mother and the result was the adorable Lancelot Encore (MiamiHerald.com, Cloned Dog Joins Boca Raton Family’s Animal Menagerie). Although this news story is five years old, it does not discount the advancement in technology since then. It only becomes a matter of time before people start to think about genetically modifying other animals, and then maybe even humans.
A future with genetically modified humans may not be so far away after all. A Forbes article reported that “between now and July, the UK parliament is likely to vote on whether a new form of in vitro fertilization (IVF)…becomes legally available to couples. If it passes, the law would be the first to allow pre-birth human-DNA modification” (DiSalvo, 2014). Thus, might be able to prevent genetic mutations to create a more genetically apt human race. Perhaps something like the movie “Gattaca” could really exist. And with that (as there are in the movie) come ethical dilemmas. In the movie, the disparities among social classes skyrocketed when only wealthy parents were able to afford to genetically modify their children to avoid different genetic diseases and mutations. Genetically mutated humans were seen as more competent and reliable for jobs and ultimately divided social classes significantly between those who could afford the procedure and those who could not.
Although these studies are still in their early stages and the social impact is too far away to predict, the Forbes article offers more immediate ethical dilemmas. One of the problems that the article mentioned is “whether the mtDNA donor mother could be considered a true “co-parent” of the child, and if so, can she claim parental rights?” (DiSalvo, 2014). Granted that the surrogate mother will contribute a tenth of a percent of DNA to the child, it calls into question what it means to be a “biological” parent (DiSalvo, 2014). Furthermore, there is no way to tell whether the trials will actually work with human subjects since research has only been done in labs.
It is clear that while new technology solves old problems, it creates new ones for the next round of innovators to solve, and so on. However, some questions remain unanswered, which is what do we want humankind to look like in the future? What kind of world are we creating and is it the one that we want?
DiSalvo, D. (2014, January 26). The era of genetically-altered humans could begin this year. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2014/01/26/the-era-of-genetically-altered-humans-could-begin-this-year/
MiamiHerald.com. (Producer). (2009, January 29). Cloned Dog Joins Boca Raton Family’s Animal Menagerie [Web Video].
Phillips, R. (2009, February 06). Couple loves cloned best friend. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/02/06/cloned.puppy/index.html?eref=rss_latest