Everybody knows about Dolly the cloned sheep, but only few people know all details about cloning. Dolly sheep may have been the most famous clone, but she was not the first. The scientists have been working on it over 100 years – many animals like frogs, mice and cows had been cloned before Dolly.
Although the animals cloning brings a lot of controversy, only few of us are interested in this topic. Luckily, animal cloning is not happens daily so it explains the lack of information in the media.
Let’s back to Dolly. She looked like any other sheep, but her cause is more concern than previous clones. She was the first mammal to be cloned not from an embryo but from an adult cell. Dolly’s birth and further survival proved that adult cells can reprogram themselves into a new being.
Despite of that, cloning is not in accordance with the laws of nature.
The history of cloning began in 1962 when John Gurdon clones frogs from differentiated adult cells. In 1973 Herbert W. Boyer and Stanley N. Cohen created first recombinant DNA organisms, which was initiation of Recombinant DNA technology (rDNA). Few years later First, Prather, and Eyestone cloned a cow from embryo cells.
By looking at cloning historical timeline we might wonder why scientist want to do cloning?
Cloning is a creation of an organism which every single bit of DNA is the same between the two. Scientist claims that cloning animals is a reliable way of reproducing superior livestock genetics what leading to improving quality and supply of food as the world’s population. Furthermore, these techniques can be used in researching and treating human diseases (like produce human antibodies against infectious and even cancers), producing medicines in the milk of mammals and genetically altering animals for the production of human transplant organs. Another reason is that cloning can be used to protect endangered species – of course right now, cloning is not a viable conservation strategy, but some researchers remain optimistic that it will help threatened species in the future and clones could theoretically increase the genetic diversity of an endangered population (e.g. in China, panda cells are being kept on reserve).
This major issues revolve around legal and ethical aspects of animal cloning.
Animal cloning is still the animal testing. Producing an animal clone from an adult cell is complex and difficult and requires many attempts (produce Dolly was preceded by 277 attempts). Mutations and weakness of cloned animal or premature aging – it’s some of disadvantages of animals cloning. Many of skeptics are wondering if clones can reproduce and give birth to healthy offspring, but case of Dolly who gave birth to four lambs providing that is possible.
Equally important is inclusion of animal protection in the countries constitutions. Finally the status of animals has been recognized and it became the common global interest but only few of countries have comprehensive provisions aimed specifically at protecting animals. Today animal protection is like a fashion, but nobody wants to protect rights of cloned animals. Cloning research is active in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Iran, Japan, New Zealand, Turkey and the United Kingdom; livestock cloning and the sale of cloned animals is – and always has been – legal and safe in the United States.
Looking at the long list of countries interested in these practices – I am proud that in my country, no one even thought of taking such unethical actions which cause animal suffering.
In that case, how animal cloning which is an effort to improving the technology can be harmonized with creature status and judgement? There is no one right answer – lists of pros and cons of animal cloning are equal.
Hopefully, there are some people with opinion that cloning is repulsive. Consumers can benefit from cloning because meat and milk will be more healthy, safe and consistent but isn’t still unnatural? Case of Dolly shows that genetic engineering of animals is not really successful (sheep can normally live to 11 or 12 years of age, cloned Dolly survived only 6).
However, it’s obvious that scientists will be continuing their experiments and many successful or not successful clones will be created. Since the birth of Dolly, around the world was created much more clones: in 2000 – rhesus monkey Andy, in 2003 – horse Prometea, in 2012 – pashmina goat Noorie, and there will be more.
My personal support for cessation of animal cloning comes from the deep belief that humans have a moral obligation to all animals — to treat them with respect and afford them to be born, live and die, whether in captivity or in the wild.