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Tuesday, 8 January, 2002, 09:39 GMT
Should animal cloning be stopped?
Animal welfare groups have called on scientists to halt cloning experiments after it was revealed that Dolly the cloned sheep has arthritis.
Professor Ian Wilmut, a member of the team at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh and one of the scientists involved in her creation, said the condition may have arisen because of genetic defects caused by the cloning process.
Mr Wilmut has called for a research programme to establish the impact cloning has on animal health.
The discovery raises fresh concerns over cloning practices and the potential risk to humans in using cloned animal organs for human transplants.
Biopharmaceutical company PPL Therapeutics, which helped clone Dolly, produced new cloned pigs on Christmas Day claiming they represented a major step towards using the organs of cloned animals for human transplants.
Should cloning be stopped? Or do you think there are a lot more important discoveries yet to be made?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
As long as Animal cloning can offer medical benefits it should be investigated.
On the 28th of December my Uncle died of a silent heart attack brought on by heart disease, I miss him dearly. Maybe if he could have held on for a few more years then he could have been saved by a pig's heart.
Maybe if it wasn't for those voicing "ethical" concerns the technology would already exist and he wouldn't have died.
Where is the "ethics" in this outcome?
Chris Cowdery, UK
Cloning is stupid, sick, selfish and evil.
There is no need for anyone to exploit animals
for greed of humans. People think they are so
important and they are not. Why should they
be made whole at the expense of thousands of
animals? Scientists use animals for their own sick
perversions without thinking of the pain and suffering
they cause, and to make money. Each company wants
to be first because of the money and prestige it gets them.
But they are wasting their energies in the wrong direction.
If you want to help people, work on their minds first. There is
no point in having a healthy body if you have a sick mind
that thinks animals are there to be used. First people have to become
civilized and humane. There is no hope of that so long as
animals are exploited for human use.
Brian, Minnesota, USA
Cloning should not be outlawed as the technology seems to offer new opportunities in medicine. Of course there will be setbacks along the way but even if cloning is banned in some countries there will be plenty of others that will allow the practice. This will lead to us eventually receiving cloned organs from animals anyway. The technology is here to stay but I feel that it could still take a couple of decades for it to become more universally accepted
Keep on cloning, practice makes perfect.
I believe that there should
be a moratorium on cloning
research until the field is
better regulated. The main
problem as I see it is the
harmful influence of commercial
interests on cloning research.
In this field, commercialism
is proving incompatible with
good science. Scientific
research thrives on openness
and collaboration. However, commercial
concerns have led to secrecy and
puffery that make it impossible
for anyone to truly know what's
going on in the field.
There needs to be a purpose for cloning. Unless animals that are endangered are cloned then it's a waste of time.
It never ceases to amaze me. People moan about animals being cloned for the good of mankind then they go down their local burger joint and sit down to eat the very animals they wish to save. Come on people. I understand where the vegetarian is coming from, but when we breed millions of animals just so they can appear on the shelves at your local supermarket for your perusal and appetite then you do really need to reappraise your priorities. Far more animals are being eaten every week by you then are being cloned. You are the ones that can do something about this. Until you do, let's continue cloning for the good of mankind.
Nigel Rees, UK/USA
Many people seem to have the impression that cloning will eventually lead to massive, cryogenic facilities in which everyone who can afford it will have a clone or two. They also believe that these poor individuals will be, through no fault of their own, reduced to hanging meat so that the rest of us can live just a little bit longer. Do you honestly believe that the rest of humanity is so blind we'd allow cloning to go down that road? Besides, as stated earlier, the companies performing this research are out for profit. What sounds more profitable to you, finding a way to clone and force grow whole humans and then building huge storage facilities to house them, or developing a pill that regenerates failing organs?
I am staring the need for a transplant in the face, and before anyone starts I am neither overweight, do not eat meat, exercise regularly, and don't smoke or drink alcohol. I have however requested no transplant as I do not wish to have an organ from any other animal in my body, including humans, pigs and dolly the sheep. I do not fancy the harsh regime of drugs required to force my body to accept such an organ nor the repulsive idea that I have something or someone else's bits. So I'm not in favour of cloning organs at all.
This is what happens when scientists play God, plain and simple.
If people would eat a sensible diet and get exercise, most transplants as well as other expensive medical procedures would be unnecessary. The ethical questions and potential for widespread new diseases far outweigh any perceived possible benefit to mankind. But as a healthy vegetarian, I realise my views are probably in the minority.
A less expensive and controversial alternative would be a campaign encouraging people to sign their organ donor cards.
If we can eat meat and use animal body parts as medicine why can't the same be used in a slightly different way? But as with any new technology, cloning has to be mature enough to take it to the level we are discussing.
I'd just like to remind some of those out there that condemn animal cruelty. Are you all vegetarian? Surely causing suffering to animals in the name of eating them is a greater travesty than cloning to save lives?
Nick Tokovic, Australia
We probably cannot stop these people. I just hope that those who receive these unfortunate animals' organs suffer some unpleasant fate as a result.
So Dolly has arthritis and is no doubt ageing prematurely. Animal experimentation is dangerous to human health due to the physiological and genetic differences between humans and animals. The myth that millions of animals should be cruelly experimented on then killed to aid human health is promoted by the pharmaceutical companies and the government because billions of pounds and thousands of scientific careers depend on it. It's about time the government honoured its promise to have a Royal commission on the issue of animal vivisection. It's about time the public was told the truth.
It was always going to be a risky process. We knew that from the start. However I am not and never will be a supporter of these experiments and although I am disappointed at Dolly's poor state of health, I am glad that the scientists have failed to make the progress they had hoped for in this respect.
So, what we are saying here is that a human life is more important than that of another animal? Animals start wars, do they? Or perhaps they pollute the planet? If you ask me, the human race has a very over-inflated sense of its own importance. Why not use some of this technology to decrease the burden that we are putting on nature? The earth is already overpopulated by humans, so, if we all insist on wanting to live forever and driving a luxury car, misery will only continue to proliferate. We need to look at the bigger picture, we are not "in charge" of the world, or if we are, we aren't doing a very good job.
I totally agree with Robert from Scotland. I disagree with animal cloning. I feel that animals should not have to suffer by being used as guinea pigs. It's human diseases and complications that we are trying to find cures for, so why are we not using humans instead of animals? The answer is because humans have assumed rights. But where are the rights of animals? Just because animals can't speak for themselves does not mean that humans can take advantage of them.
Robert, Scotland, expresses the view that we are not superior to animals citing our tendency to wage war and cause pollution as proof. I think moral comparisons between species are inappropriate but for argument's sake I'll go along with him. Should Robert care to look, he'd find numerous examples of gratuitous killing, theft and rape in the animal kingdom. But could he name an animal that can perform life-saving surgery or write a symphony? His argument just doesn't bear scrutiny at all. For me the bottom line is this: Would I let a child die just to spare a pig? Of course not.
To Robert, Scotland: Yes, human life is more important than an animal's life. I respect animals but don't you think your life is more important than a pig's?
Cloning should certainly not be stopped. The gene is out of the bottle. So we, the UK, may as well push ahead because if not someone else will.
I think it's a great idea. How can anyone complain about animal cruelty? These animals will live a far better life than any
wild animal would naturally live. Weren't we put on this earth to multiply and prosper? I seem to recall something in the bible about man having dominion over animals too.
To Andy, UK: Do you live all of your life by the bible or do you just pick out the bits that suit your argument? I certainly don't believe that we should live by words that were written down over 2,000 years ago and translated through so many languages that they probably bear no relation to their original meanings. But when you can point out something in the bible about cloning animal organs for human use I might change my mind.
To Andy, UK: Yes the bible does say that we have dominion over animals but we are also told to take care and treat all animals well. Cloning can be used for the benefit of mankind but we know that some people will most definitely abuse this, so I feel there must be strict monitoring for this.
Cloning is an important technique that shouldn't be overlooked in the search for medical advances whatever its ethical implications. However I believe that we humans are already outliving our ancestors by a huge margin, so maybe medical research must start to look to improve the quality of life into old age and not just seek to increase our longevity.
Tom, UK: Yes, we ought to value prevention of disease over technologically expensive cures, which tend to make us servants rather than masters of our technology. But I'm alarmed by the topsy-turvy nature that would stop the creation and destruction of animal life, yet has no problem with stem cell investigations that frequently involve the creation and destruction of human life.
The question here should not be a matter of whether or not it is correct to use an animal for its organs, but whether it is right to manufacture a living, thinking and feeling organism for the purposes of human gain. Modelling the genetics of a pig so that the animal may serve human use likens it to any machine from a bicycle to a computer. It is taking the farming of animals for their meat one step further.
I don't think it should be stopped or we'll have to stop every other research technique. It is a major step forward to reduce the risk of certain crippling diseases and every effort should be made to improve it even further. If we don't hesitate to use horse serum, pigs pancreas and cat's guts why this uproar about this pioneering techniques. Man doesn't hesitate to abuse fellow human beings for his own motives, why should one hesitate to use animal organs for sick people.
If we get to the point where more than 45% of a person has been replaced by animal parts can we then eat them, or would that still be cannibalism?
I think it is a marvellous breakthrough. If it puts a stop to fatal illnesses throughout the world then it can only be a good thing. I have no sympathy for the animals either. They are killed and eaten by our people everyday. Surely animal rights activists must agree this is a positive move forward?
Cammy has hit the nail right on the head. The majority of us eat a wide variety of animals every day that are bred solely for us to eat that we my stay alive. Where is the problem with breeding these animals for transplants etc? If it would make these objectors feel any better we could make loverly sausages out of the remains. As for any cruelty, I'm pretty sure these cloned for transplant animals would lead much more comfortable lives than any animal destined for a supermarkets meat counter.
The increased use of cloning techniques for all manner of applications will increase significantly as our understanding grows regardless of who objects or how valid their arguments and concerns are. Debating if we should use animals or if we have the right to play God is a waste of time. We will do both and probably worse. Instead we should be focusing on how we can control, monitor and ensure the safe use of the technology.
For heavens sakes, we eat animals. So what is the problem?
This appears to be yet another facet of man's cruelty and exploitation of other animals. I for one am not surprised at this development and can only despair at man's inhumanity to sentient beings.
As ridiculous as it may sound is there anyone else out there that thinks there might be side effects from using animal organs?
I am concerned that animal viruses could be passed on via these types of transplants. The 1918 influenza pandemic is believed to have originated in pigs in the American Midwest. I certainly wouldn't like to see that happen again.
As a medical student I think cloning technology is undoubtedly a milestone in this scientific age and it will definitely be a great support in our medical profession in the future. But as for the animals I believe that the sacrifice is significant.
I think at some point in the future we will all succumb to cloning and animal organ donation in order to continue to exist, so why wait.
Adrian Spicer, Essex, England
Adrian Spicer: That's a nice piece of hysterical animal rights rhetoric. I assume that if your life ever depends on having a transplant that has been made possible by animal experimentation you will refuse it and take the option of death instead.
I wouldn't mind just as long as I get the genes of a sow, not a hog.
04 Jan 02 | Sci/Tech
Cloned sheep Dolly has arthritis
02 Jan 02 | Sci/Tech
New pig clones born
09 May 01 | Sci/Tech
Australian researchers clone pig
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