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Friday, 4 January, 2002, 14:26 GMT
Head-to-head: Cloning
Dolly, the first sheep to be cloned has developed arthritis, but does this mean we should stop experimenting with cloning or press for more answers?

Joyce D'Silva, Director of Compassion in World Farming says Dolly's case raises the question of the long-term ill effects of cloning and is calling for a global moratorium on all experimental and commercial use of GM or cloned farm animals.

Professor Ian Wilmut, a member of the team at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, who created Dolly, says that there should be long term research into whether cloning causes premature ageing in animals.

Joyce D'Silva, Director Compassion in World Farming

I'm glad Dolly has survived so well for so long and sorry to hear she's developed arthritis.

When I think of cloned animals, I don't think of Dolly, I see in my mind's eye all the hundreds of newly-born cloned lambs who struggle to survive for just a few days before their malformed organs give up on them and they die.

Or I see the thousands of female sheep, who have been operated on to have egg cells removed and then been killed and the thousands who have had cloned embryos inserted surgically, only frequently to abort them later or else face giving birth to abnormally large lambs, because clones usually grow excessively big in the uterus.

Dolly raises the question of the long-term ill effects of cloning on farm animals.

We don't yet know the answer to that one, but what we do know is that there's virtually a 50% mortality rate for cloned farm animals.

Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) asks what on earth are we doing funding research which is so ineffective and causes so much suffering?

As for using the organs of cloned and genetically modified animals for transplant into humans - there are all sorts of appalling risks to do with transfer of animal viruses to humans.

CIWF is calling for a global moratorium on all experimental and commercial use of GM or cloned farm animals.

Professor Ian Wilmut, of the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh

This is still a very young technique, it has great potential and it is very important that as well as studying the animals that are there already we continue with the process of trying to improve and use the technology.

We at the Institute feel that this provides one more piece of evidence that unfortunately the present cloning procedures are rather inefficient.

We know already that there is an unusual incidence of death of cloned animals around the time of birth.

What we need to go on studying is whether diseases like arthritis, which tend to be associated with older age, occur in a normal way or whether the incidences change.

We will never know in the case of Dolly whether her condition is due to cloning or whether it is an unfortunate accident because sheep do develop arthritis.

What is unusual about this condition is that it's in two joints in her back leg, which are not normally vulnerable to arthritis.

This is an important observation, but I don't regard it as a major setback.

I don't think we should exaggerate the impact of this new observation.

We just feel it's very important to be open and discuss this with people generally.

It will only be as a result of having a systematic large-scale study that we will be able to give accurate comments as to whether or not this does arise as a result of cloning or not.

It's important that we put all our information together and perhaps start some systematic studies with the important large animal species.

See also:

04 Jan 02 | Sci/Tech
Cloned sheep Dolly has arthritis
04 Jan 02 | Sci/Tech
Animal cloning: What is the future?
06 Jul 01 | Sci/Tech
Warning over dangers of cloning
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