Cloning Advancements and Achievements
Have you ever had a favorite dog - a pet you would keep for the rest of your life if you could? Well, now you can. Researchers in Seoul, South Korea are betting that consumers will pay big bucks to have their pet brought back to life, at least genetically speaking. RNL Bio announced in mid-February that they are offering commercial pet cloning services to the public. Offering cloned dogs at a price of $150,000, services are marketed to wealthy pet owners. The company's first order is from an American woman requesting that her dead dog, a pit bull terrier, be cloned. RNL Bio will extract the DNA from ear tissue, which the pet owner preserved with a biotec company a year before the dog's death. The odds of creating a successful clone are only 25%, but the lab insists it will not give up until her pit bull is recreated as a clone. The average pet owner will not be faced with whether to duplicate their beloved canine or even feline for that matter. The cost of the procedure coupled with the cost of "banking" the DNA sample, not including yearly maintenance on the storage of the sample, will allow only the most wealthy to participate. With all the obvious advances being made in animal cloning, can we expect human clones to be next? With these discoveries coming at such a fast pace, morality issues and ethical questions are continually fueled into the new debates about the future of cloning. The average consumer will not be faced with a personal decision on the morality of cloning but will have to look at it with an outsider's viewpoint.
Aside from human cloning, no cloning project has brought on more debate than the marketing plan of Genetic Savings and Clone, the first U.S. firm to go commercial and offer pet cloning. They were responsible for the first cloned-to order pet sold in the U.S., a cat named Little Nicky. This carbon copy cat had a $50,000 price tag at the time of the cloning back in 2004. "It's morally problematic and a little reprehensible." said David Magnus, co-director of Center for Biomedical Ethics at Stanford University, "For $50,000, she could have provided homes for lots of strays."(Elias) Animal welfare activists complain that cloning of felines is unnecessary and cruel because thousands of stray cats are euthanized for want of homes every year. These same activists are asking for laws prohibiting these companies from providing this service. Along with concerns over humane treatment and high failure rates, the question of whether the consumer understands the true nature of a clone has also been raised. One common misconception of cloning is that the clone will be identical to the DNA donor in every aspect. The animal may have exactly the same genetic make-up as the original but will be introduced to different living environments, stimuli and situations than the original, making it a unique and possibly a very different individual. (Pence) The Texas woman who owned Little Nicky said, "He is identical. His personality is the same." (Elias) The process worked for her. The risk is that the animal owner who remembers a loving pit bull who saved her life may end up with a temperamental unfriendly pit bull that looks like her beloved pet, but is not. Ceo of Genetic Savings and Clone cautions, "...from the genetic perspective is that this (cloning) is resurrection. It is not in terms of a level of consciousness, but in terms of genetics you are getting the same animal back. Personality-wise there are differences." (Shiels) Conventional wisdom holds true that half of who we are comes from genes and the other half from our environment. Buyer beware seems like a good motto to follow when considering a cloning purchase.
Opinions spread like wild fire upon the report of the first successful mammal clone “Dolly.” Everyone with a voice had something to say about the morality of clones: the scientific community, politicians and the general...
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