Blog Post 1:Dolly & Eugenics

One of the over arching questions of cloning is obviously whether or not we should clone animals or humans, which can filter down into the question of just because we have the ability or technology to do it should we? Dolly was one of the first animals to be cloned, and the first animal to be cloned from an adult cell (“Cloning Dolly the Sheep”). Dolly wasn’t cloned for the sake of seeing if it could be down. Researchers were looking into the transfer of human genes into animals to produce certain proteins that are helpful in the treatment of human diseases (“Cloning Dolly the Sheep”). Other reasons for animal cloning include animals that produce higher-quality meat or milk, to use as breeders, and making potential drugs or vaccines (“Why Clone?”). The picture brings up an interesting consideration about improving the food safety and quality of our meat (


The above reasons don’t necessarily apply to human cloning, but are interesting nonetheless. It does not seem that animal cloning is a popular or common occurrences, however this viewpoint may change. Kass and Elliott both provide examples of other reproductive technologies that were originally seen as inappropriate that have become acceptable today. From this evidence, one could propose that cloning will become mainstream in the future.

Both authors bring up the moral issue of eugenics. Elliott mentions that cloning could allow for “many more opportunities for ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ selection” (Holland 151).  Kass mentions an article in The Washington Post where the author states, “cloning could help us overcome the unpredictable variety that still rules human reproduction, and allow us to benefit from perpetuating superior genetic endowments” (Holland 131). The evidence that Kass provides focuses on the possibility of forming a homogeneous super species, one that has all the best genetic qualities. There would be great benefit in having predictability in reproduction, something that could be positive or negative. Elliott’s evidence suggests that there are positive and negative sides to cloning an individual with desired characteristics. I agree with Kass’ statement in the fact that it would be great to have the healthiest and most robust genotype to survive, but how would we keep evolving as humans? Darwin’s experiments with finches would not have worked unless there were a variety of phenotypes to utilize. Darwin was able to notice which birds survive which conditions and how they adapted to their environment. Hypothetically speaking if we had an entire population of clones (neither pieces of evidence state this, but Kass’ support seems like it could support mass cloning) how would we as humans evolve and adapt to new surroundings? Just because a specific genotype is beneficial at this current time does not mean that it will be the best genotype twenty years later. “Evolution by natural selection benefits considerably from individual genetic diversity” therefore we will never know the best genotype because it will keep changing based on our environment (Holland 159). My conclusion may be a bit dramatic because it is based on the presence of an entire population of clones, but I believe it is still something that should be addressed. Cloning would reduce the amount of genetic variation within the species, which could have positive or negative effects down the line.


“Cloning Dolly the Sheep.” AnimalResearch.Info. 1996. Web. 27 January 2014.

“Why Clone?” Learn.Genetics. University of Utah Health Sciences. Web. 27 January 2014.

12 thoughts on “Blog Post 1:Dolly & Eugenics

  1. Joyelle, I enjoyed your engagement with ideas about natural selection and evolution. I believe a huge aspect of the cloning discussion needs to be critical analysis of the effects of cloning on the future and the development of the human species. You mentioned the creation of a superior race, and it is interesting to think of who would be the people utilizing cloning. Could this create class divides or a societal hierarchy based on cloning status? It is both interesting and scary to think of plausible longterm outcomes, and the analysis of future implication should also be applied to animal cloning. As I mention in my blog post, animal cloning has become a manufacturing process, and it has the potential to alter certain species, challenges animal rights, and effect the natural process of animal extinction.

  2. I agree with your above statement, that cloning an entire population would obviously reduce the genetic variation within the species. However, if that population were to reproduce with itself (I am disregarding the morals of this act) there would inevitably be genetic variation in the new generations to come. During the production of gametes, crossing over occurs. This is a random process where chromosomes exchange genetic material and thus form recombinant chromosomes that differ from the original. These new recombinant chromosomes are passed along to offspring during conception. Over time, reproduction would produce a varying gene pool that overrides the genetic sameness of one single cloned population. I do think is it important to consider the effects of interbreeding in my argument, obviously the consequences would be more detrimental for a small population of clones when compared to a large population.

  3. Joyelle, I agree with you that the “cloning would reduce the amount of genetic variation within the species, which could have positive or negative effects down the line.” Proponents of the cloning may be taking it lightly that unpredictable catastrophes may require a need for genetic variation in the future for humans to survive. As we all know that diversity in a population helps to improve the chances for surviving, especially when the unexpected happens. By cloning similar humans, scientists are only focusing on one aspect of the “survival of the fittest theory”. They think that cloning will create a perfect human race of only the most creative, disease free, and healthiest humans. However, they are not considering the fact that by cloning, they are actually producing genetic replicas consisting of both the strengths and the weaknesses of the originals. It will only take one bacterium to find a host weakness, and the entire generation will vanish. Hence genetic variability is essential for evolution. As of now there is only one method to correct genetic errors and that is the random selection of chromosome in sexual reproduction Any other method, such as replication of genes, will in fact eliminate the means of correcting the genetic errors through natural selections, in which case cloning could genetically be more harmful then beneficial.

  4. I would like to bring up a viewpoint that is a little different, but can perhaps explain a position that is for cloning and eugenics simultaneously. In asking the question, “why do living things die” we may answer so that the next generation can be slightly fresher and adaptable to changing environments. In asking, “why do humans die” we first might realize how much investment it takes for humans to raise other humans to maturity- more so than other animals (18 years!), and then realize something that makes the process worth it. With each generation, humans pass on more and more knowledge and history and technological advances. The new generation is raised to be able to take the past ideas and further them with their own fresh take on what is already established. This is done with sharper minds and healthier bodies. After the deterioration of the human body brings death, there is no concern for the overall advancement of the human gene pool as advances from one generation are recorded extensively and passed to the next for new people to take even further.

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  6. Great point! As said in this post, cloning give creatures many more opportunities for ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ selection. Except for that, cloning could also help us overcome the unpredictable variety that still rules human reproduction, and allow us to benefit from perpetuating superior genetic endowments.

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