It may seem like a sequel to one of California Governor Schwarzenegger's movies, but it's not. Genetic Savings and Clone, the first US firm to produce and sell cloned pets has already received orders from five customers at $50,000 a cloned cat. The company which was involved with Texas A & M University in "creating" the world's first cloned cat, named Cc for carbon copy, says they will give a full refund to any client not happy with the results.
CEO Lou Hawthorne says feline cloning is complex. "The issue with cats is not how to do it, the issue is how to do it perfectly with the best quality of results," BBC Online reported. It apparently took over 80 attempts before Cc was produced successfully, and the company has a"buyer beware" warning that it will not produce exact replicas. Certainly a departure from the Sixth Day, which also poses the question, what's the point then?
But wait, there's more. Some people have also paid to have their pet's tissue preserved for future cloning, for about $900 a year. That's a lot of money...triple the cost of my annual life insurance premium. It's also big business. And we haven't even discussed the ethics involved.
Did you know? In November 2003 the Associated Press ran an article on "Wanna clone a cow?" about a Massachusetts company which guarantees a healthy calf for $19,000 and two for $34,000. And that in the years since the birth of Dolly the cloned sheep, the most publicized cloned animal, scientists have now successfully cloned a dozen other mammal species including goats, pigs, horses, rabbits and a calf from a slaughtered cow.
This raises a question. What of the safety of cloned animals for food consumption? The FDA is currently on record as saying that there is no evidence that meat or milk derived from healthy cloned animals can harm people. However, that does not mean they have approved cloned animal food products yet. They are waiting for public reaction before deciding whether government approval will be needed for cloned animals to be sold as food.
The scientific community has been genetically altering seed and food products to improve quality, shelf life, etc., for years. Now we've moved on to animals with little public debate. Of course, the next on the docket is cloned humans. What will we allow? Where will we draw the lines?
Well, Hollywood has entered the debate with several movies on the subject and plenty of emotional manipulation to persuade. If you haven't seen it, may I suggest "The Sixth Day" staring Arnold Schwarzenegger. It's not a fantasy anymore.
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