Friday, January 29, 2010

To clone or not to clone

Yesterday the subject of cloning came up in a conversation with my mother. To understand the context, a little background is necessary.

My mother is one of those people who have had so many health problems, she should be dead. She isn't. Even her brother and sister-in-law said they were sure she'd die before Dad. She didn't. She's still here. It's probably my fault because I've always said that when the bomb is dropped and humanity is eradicated all that will be left will be cockroaches, moths and Mom. That's where the cloning discussion comes in.

If humanity were reduced to one individual, then the rise of humanity can only come from cloning -- if, of course, the human in question has the techniques and the skills to clone herself. She'd have to use ova from another source since her reproductive system was cleared out decades ago, but it is possible there would be some fertility clinic or sperm and ova bank still standing with the requisite genetic material available for use. Then again, with all that raw material, there would be sufficient diverse cellular material to use for test tube babies, with a suitable host. Mom's not good with the technical but, for the sake of argument, let's say she could fashion a mechanical womb to grow the cloned fetuses and thus clone herself.

Cloning herself would be necessary since no other human in recorded history, other than my father whose genetic material is now ash, has been able to tolerate Mom for long. A world population comprised of my mother would be a self-limiting species since they would only exist to shop and eat junk food. Once the food stocks are gone, the junk food stocks, the Virginia Annabelle population would be forced to either evolve or die. Without junk food and massive quantities of preservatives to keep them alive, they would die, probably along the lines of the half life of a cesium atom or something similar.

On a more realistic note, it would be possible to rejuvenate the human race, given time and sufficient genetic material, by cloning and thus further advances in that area are necessary -- only in case of nuclear holocaust and the imminent demise of mankind. How do you think we got here in the first place? It's a time-honored tradition that brought us unicorns, centaurs, naiads, nymphs, mermaids/mermen, and assorted half-man, half-animal species.

Is cloning a good idea? It depends on the human being to be cloned. Ira Levin used a cloned Hitler as the basis of The Boys from Brazil and look how that turned out. I think I have shown that, while giving humanity another try, cloning my mother would be a bad idea. However, cloning as a viable option for preservation of species, Jurassic Park notwithstanding, is a good idea and should be pursued. The science is more complicated and less successful than Dolly the sheep seems to illustrate. More information is needed and to get more information, more work must be done. It's doubtful we'd end up with a sociopathic killing machine the likes of Embryo, but when has being wrong ever mattered when it comes down to where the rubber hits the road?

That is all. Disperse.

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