Guest Author - Carol Taller
The world said “Hello Dolly” on February 24, 1997 when her existence was announced as the world’s first cloned mammal from a cell of an adult mammal. She was born on July 5, 1996, from three adult ewes: one provided DNA, another proved an egg for the DNA to be injected into, and a third mother carried the cloned embryo till her birth. Her birth caused a stirring debate about the ethics of cloning mammals.
Weeks after Dolly was born, US President Bill Clinton issued a moratorium to stop all federally funded cloning projects. This was done to cease all of the controversy surrounding the ethics of cloning. Other countries, however, continue to study and experiment with the medical alternatives that cloning offers.
Dolly was a Finn Dorset sheep born at the Roslin Institue in Edinburgh, Scotland. She was named after the famous singer Dolly Parton. Dolly was six years old when it was discovered that she had a progressive lung disease. Since Dolly was an experimental research animal it was legally up to her creator, Ian Wilmut, to make the final decision to painlessly put her to “sleep”. Her premature death supported evidence that cloned animals were not as healthy as the originals.
Dolly produced several offspring, bred naturally; proving that cloned mammals can reproduce.
To this day, the debate of cloning continues. Many scientists believe that cloning has many medical benefits including saving people from debilitating illnesses and saving lives. It is also believed that cloning could save some species from extinction.
Others believe that cloning is not natural or ethical and should be outlawed. Many pregnancies do not reach term and many that do reach term have birth defects. In one case a calf was born with two faces.
The first cloning began in 1952. Robert Briggs and Thomas J. King created a tadpole. In 2002 the world’s first cloned horse “Prometea” was unveiled in France, and the world’s first cloned rat “Ralph” was announced in Italy.
And interestingly enough, the US Food and Drug Administration announced in 2008 that it is safe to eat meat and dairy products from cloned animals. Still, many Americans question whether it is really safe to eat these products, and if the costs are worth the effort. Cloning remains a costly process. By 2010 the European Union put a temporary ban on animal cloned food products in Europe and stopped import of food coming from cloned animals. The mysteries still remain.