Cloning is the process of producing genetically identical individuals. Some organisms, such as bacteria, insects, or plants reproduce asexually, essentially cloning themselves. Humans have developed techniques to clone a wide variety of mammals, and you can see these advancements in the news often these days.
Consider the following three cloning landmarks:
- In 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved food derived from cloned animals, not requiring these products to be labeled as “cloned” or “from clones” (Black, 2008). The FDA explained that you would not be eating the clone itself. It takes thousands of dollars to clone a food animal such as a cow or pig. Animals that are cloned for improved food production are used for a breeding program to produce many offspring with the desirable traits for increased meat or milk yield. These offspring of the clones are fair game for food.
- In polo, each team has four players who ride as many as a dozen horses during a match. Adolfo Cambiaso, the world’s number one polo player, has cloned his favorite mare Cuartetera. He recently rode the clones to win the Superbowl of polo—the Argentine Open! In fact, his team has won 5 years in a row (Cohen, 2015), and from 2013–2018, he won while riding the original Cuartetera and her clones (Raymond, 2018).
- Barbra Streisand was recently on the cover of Variety magazine with her cloned dogs. Ms. Streisand explains how heartbroken she was to lose her dog after 14 years, and with advice from a friend, had her dog cloned at ViaGen in Texas. The cost for this process is $50,000. Of four puppies, the runt of the littler died, but Streisand kept 2 of the others and gave the third to a daughter of a friend (Streisand, 2018).
Answer the following question:
- Based on research and evidence related to DNA or the process of cloning a mammal, did you find that there are differences between a clone and a “normal” animal?
Then, respond to 1 of these additional questions:
- Explain your personal opinions about eating a cloned animal. Would you expect meat or milk from a clone to taste the same as that from naturally conceived animals?
- Is it fair or ethical to use cloned horses in competition?
- Could the $50,000 spent to clone a dog be better spent rescuing dogs? If cost were no obstacle, would you clone a beloved pet?