Cloning the Redwoods

California’s redwoods, one of the longest-living species on Earth, are going to be preserved and restored using ‘genetic cloning’ – the latest cutting-edge technology. Some of the redwoods are more than 2000 years old and the trees can grow as tall as 112 m. The tree diameter can vary from 3 to 5 m to up to 7 m at the base.

CNN reported that arborist David Milarch is very active about his project as only about 5% of the forest stands today while the rest has been cut down over the last hundred years. An arborist is someone specialized in cultivating and caring of trees. So David is doing the right job.

Cloning comes from the Greek word that stands for ‘twig, branch’ where a new plant can be created from a twig. In fact plant cloning is a culture practised over thousands of years and we do it in our everyday life. How? When we take the ‘cutting’ from a plant and grow a whole new plant from it, it’s a cloned plant. Because it’s DNA carries the identical genetic information of the original plant. No reproductive activities are involved here.

Sexual reproduction that produces an offspring requires two sets of DNA, one from the mother’s egg and the other from the father’s sperm. The offspring is genetically different from either mother or father. But cloning, an asexual reproduction needs only a single parent from whom comes the nucleus or DNA and produces a genetically identical copy of the donor. So the DNA code remains unchanged. As the genetic information is same so is the offspring – a copy or duplicate of the donor. That means one John or Jack can receive an exact copy of him (a second young John or Jack) as his birthday gift from his friends 🙂 .

Besides producing a genetic twin of any organism cloning can offer many beneficial prospects for better health and longevity of life. Therapeutic cloning, the research on stem cells (stem cells are the basic cells that can differentiate or change into new cells as needed), can be hoped to offer a better treatment for cancers, Alzheimer’s, heart diseases and a lot more. Damaged cells can be replaced with healthy cells or a whole new organ can be produced from a single cell. Hopefully biological and medical sciences will achieve some promising results that will serve the mankind.

Human cloning can be a matter of dispute for many reasons. Most probably life doesn’t need a second or duplicate copy. It can be very messy. But for treatment, to improve the quality of life research on therapeutic cloning must go on.

If you now rule out the beneficial sides of this treatment because right now you are healthy and you virtually don’t need it, then, what about a young man of 25 or even little older 45, who has just been diagnosed with cancer and the chances of living is limited to only few months. For him this will be a miraculous recovery to normalcy. It will extend his life expectancy like others. But for someone who is already 80 or 90, what the person will do becoming completely healthy again. How society and culture are going to shape the future for them? This can be debatable.

After retiring at 65 what a healthy person is going to do, how he or she will spend time?

  • One thing that they can do is to guide the young generations so that the newcomers on Earth don’t make the same mistakes done by the oldies.
  • Media can expand more and sport events can be a better entertaining ground for the long-living persons.
  • Even educational institutions can offer special courses for the elderly people.

That means rather than being a burden on society, they can create many new jobs. The economy can find a new way to boom.

Now let’s go back to David Milarch. What he is doing is repopulating the endangered redwoods trees which shows how we can save many other near-to-extinct species rather than letting it be a part of history.

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