Seeing double? Pet cloning is no longer science fiction.
Saying goodbye to a pet is incredibly difficult. Now some pet owners feel like they have a second chance with their pet after their death. Using a controversial procedure, a laboratory in South Korea has begun creating pet clones. While cloned animals are nothing new, the commercial availability of such a service is.
The science: Clones are created by taking a cell from the original animal. This donor cell is placed inside the nucleus of an egg cell from a female of the same species. A jolt of electricity and bath in chemicals encourage the cell to divide as it would if it were a normal egg.
The costs: The procedure is incredibly expensive. One woman spent $50,000 to have a batch of cloned puppies born. Scientists at the institute hope that this cost will go down in the future as technology improves and demand increases.
The controversies: The cloning of any creature is still highly controversial. Research about the long-term effects of cloning has yet to be done. Critics say some cloned animals have poor immune systems and others don’t live long. Also, a large number of embryos are generally created in the process of creating a successful clone. So the issue of the number of embryos needed to create one animal is controversial, too.
Double doses: Dogs, cats, rabbits, rats and even a horse have also being cloned.
Duplicates or not? Of course, no owner of a cloned pet can expect an exact copy of his or her original beloved. The cloned pet will have the exact same DNA, but any parent of identical twins can tell you how much room that still leaves for differences.
What do you say? Is cloning a good thing or bad, and why?