Nurture and Nature

On August 30th, 2011, Posted by author

Last modified: October 26, 2015

Cloning is the process by which the genetic material from a plant or animal is manipulated in the laboratory to reproduce an exact copy of the original including all its physical features and qualities. Plants and lower animals have been subjected to cloning from a long time. But there is a lot of controversy about the cloning of highly evolved animals and humans. The still unanswered questions revolve on whether cloning is justifiable and whether the essential nature and individual character of the genetic donor are also transferred to the cloned progeny.

We examine at two questions from the point of T. C. Boyle in his story “Admiral”: if cloning that involves the destruction of hundreds of live foetuses should be allowed and whether providing the same “nurture” elements of the original to the cloned animal would instil the same characters and create an exact copy. The author explores these issues through three characters – Mrs. Striker, Erhard and Nisha in the story who take the pro, anti and neutral stands respectively on the issue of cloning the dog “Admiral”, the rightness and ethics, as well as the benefits or otherwise of the cloning. Mrs. Striker believes that nature can be reversed through actions like cloning and by “nurturing” the animal to instil some positive qualities and at the same time de-selecting negative traits of the original in the clone. To Nisha, the dog is just a job whether it is the original or the clone. Erhard, on the other hand, views it as an action against God and nature and fervid in his activism.

As a lot of money and intense scientific knowledge are necessary to clone higher animals, the story seems to offer at least one consolation: if so much time, money and efforts are needed to just produce and nurture one cloned dog, then the vision of the sci-fi writers about the cloned armies taking over the world is distant indeed.

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