By James Kanter
Published: January 17, 2008
BRUSSELS: Just days after being told that milk and meat from cloned livestock appeared safe for human consumption; Europeans were warned Thursday that cloning causes suffering to the animals themselves.
A report by the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies says that the risks of negative effects were grave enough to keep cloned products off the European market.
There are "doubts as to whether cloning animals for food supply is ethically justified," the group said in a statement. "At present," the group said, it does "not see convincing arguments to justify the production of food from clones and their offspring."
The group on ethics consists of 15 experts appointed by the European Commission, the EU executive, and reports directly to the European Commission president, José Manuel Barroso. Its mission is to examine ethical questions arising from science and new technologies and to advice on possible legislation to govern those realms.
The group said that surrogates carrying cloned embryos could suffer and that some clones themselves experienced a high rate of disease and health problems that include increased weight, malformations, respiratory problems, enlarged livers, hemorrhaging and kidney abnormalities.
In cattle, the group's statement said, about 20 percent of cloned calves do not survive the first 24 hours after birth and an additional 15 percent die before weaning.
The group's assertions followed a separate, preliminary report by the European Food Safety Authority. That group based in Parma, Italy, and tasked with advising members of the commission and EU governments, said on Jan. 11 that cloned products appeared to be safe for human consumption.
The food authority's definitive report is expected in May.
"Both studies are important, and you can't say we will favor either one of them," Nina Papadoulaki, the commission's spokeswoman on health issues, said Thursday.
Papadoulaki said the commission would weigh the opinions it had received so far and would soon open a public consultation. But she was unable to give a time line for a commission decision on cloned food, or to say whether legislation would be necessary.
Cloning remains a very expensive process so consumers are unlikely to find cloned products on supermarket shelves anytime soon, Papadoulaki said. "We don't believe that someone would make a clone just to slaughter it and make it into steaks," she said.
The dueling opinions in Europe are circulating as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has found such products safe.
The EU authorities are at a more preliminary stage than their American counterparts in assessing cloning and are looking at a broader spectrum of issues before deciding on the acceptability of cloned products, Papadoulaki said.
In its statement Thursday, the group on ethics said assurances about animal welfare, traceability, public acceptability and steps to preserve domesticated breeds were required before food products from cloned animals could be made available in Europe.
The group also recommended further research on species of farm-raised animals, in addition to those covered in the report by the European Food Safety Authority, which dealt only with pigs and cattle.
Ethical Issues of CloningIs cloning equivalent to "playing God?" Here is a discussion about the ethical issues of cloning humans.
In the movie Jurassic Park, based on the best-selling book of the same name by Michael Crichton, scientists clone dinosaurs by using the DNA that was preserved for millions of years. However, there is trouble when the cloned dinosaurs turn out fiercer and smarter than expected. Can dinosaurs really be cloned? Theoretically, they can; all that would be required is DNA from an extinct dinosaur and a currently living closely related species which would act as a surrogate mother. In fact, there is ongoing research to clone the Woolly Mammoth by extracting the DNA from frozen animals.
Actually, cloning is a phenomenon that occurs naturally in a wide variety of species from aphids to armadillos, to poplar trees, to bacteria. Whenever you see a pair of identical twins, they are examples of nature’s clones. Although scientists have been cloning certain organisms like the carrot quite successfully for decades, attempts at cloning animals have not been as successful. However, they began long before the birth of Dolly, the sheep – the first mammal to be successfully cloned. There were sporadic successes at cloning other animals, like CC (abbreviation for ‘copycat’), the first cat to be cloned, an Asian gaur, an endangered species, which Bessie, a cow, gave birth to, and way back in the 1960’s, frogs being cloned, albeit with limited success. In fact, in the 1980s, some companies tried commercializing the cloning of livestock by the process of taking the nuclei from fetuses and embryos. These efforts generally resulted in failure because the newborns usually did not survive for long due to being unhealthy. Livestock cloning, currently, is still in the process of research. However, it is generally accepted that in time the scientific viability of producing healthy clones will become a reality.
In February 1997, the Roslin Institute and PPL Therapeutics plc announced the first production of Dolly, the cloned sheep who was the first mammal to be cloned from the somatic tissue of an adult. Dolly was of almost the same genetic composition as the sheep from whose cells she was developed, but she was not genetically engineered as such. Five months later, on 24 July, PPL announced that Polly, a genetically engineered lamb, had been produced by the same method of nuclear transfer that had produced Dolly. In addition to her usual complement of sheep genes, she also contained a human gene which had been added to the cells while they were still a cell culture. The full details of the work have yet to be published, but this represents an important development.
The gene is one intended to produce a therapeutically useful protein in the milk of the sheep. Genetically modified sheep of this general kind have been produced by Roslin and PPL for a number of years, using a "conventional" method of genetic manipulation known as micro-injection. Now this manipulation has been achieved by the Roslin's nuclear transfer method. This was the next logical step for Roslin and PPL from producing Dolly, and although not as dramatic a piece of science as Dolly, it represents possibly a more important breakthrough in what it could mean for animal genetic engineering. Its technical significance is that in principle it gives geneticists a far more precise way of doing genetic manipulation, and a far wider range of genetic changes which they could do in farm animals, compared with the limited and rather "hit and miss" methods which have been used hitherto.
From an ethical point of view, this does not pose any particular new problems. In May the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland expressed an overall approval for the Roslin and PPL work towards producing therapeutic proteins in the sheep's milk. It expressed serious concerns about cloning of animals, if the nuclear transfer methods which produced Dolly were to be done routinely in agricultural production. But it saw no objection to their use for the very limited purpose of producing transgenic sheep for producing therapeutic proteins, which PPL have just announced. Polly indeed represents the logical next step in this work.
This is not to say that all genetic modification of sheep or other animals is necessarily justified, but this area of application is ethically acceptable in that it offers significant human medical benefits, with a relatively small intervention in the animals. It is also important to recognize that these are preliminary results. It remains to be seen how effective the method would prove in other circumstances, or on other animals.
There are many unknowns about the nuclear transfer technology and the way it works. As pointed out at the time of earlier Dolly announcement, much development work is necessary, and in particular, assurances will be needed that the animal welfare aspects would be acceptable. Important questions have been raised about the number of failed pregnancies and unusually large progeny which appear to be resulting from the nuclear transfer experiments which Roslin have performed to date. While the suffering does not appear to be so extreme that one would wish to put a stop to this work already, it is clearly necessary to understand the causes and establish whether the problems can be prevented, before the method could be allowed for more general use. It would seem fair to allow the Roslin scientists a chance to do this. If after a reasonable time there seemed little prospect doing so, then one would have to review whether it was ethical to go ahead any further. Roslin themselves have indicated they would not wish to proceed with a technique which was shown to have insoluble welfare problems.
A short review…
Basically, there are different types of cloning however, and cloning technologies can be used for other purposes besides producing the genetic twin of another organism. A basic understanding of the different types of cloning is key to taking an informed stance on current public policy issues and making the best possible personal decisions. Animals that are being cloned are cats, cows, frogs and so on. The following three types of cloning technologies are:
(1) recombinant DNA technology or DNA cloning,
(2) reproductive cloning, and
(3) therapeutic cloning.
Celebrity Sheep Died at Age 6
Dolly, the first mammal to be cloned from adult DNA, was put down by lethal injection Feb. 14, 2003. Prior to her death, Dolly had been suffering from lung cancer and crippling arthritis. Although most Finn Dorset sheep live to be 11 to 12 years of age, postmortem examination of Dolly seemed to indicate that, other than her cancer and arthritis, she appeared to be quite normal. The unnamed sheep from which Dolly was cloned had died several years prior to her creation. Dolly was a mother to six lambs, bred the old-fashioned way.
The three articles up there discuss about the ethics in animal cloning. Basically, the main purpose of animal cloning is to produce better species from current organism. One of the animals that had been cloned is Dolly the sheep, which suffered from a lung cancer and died after several years. Most people didn’t agree to this process as it always brings more harm to the animals involved. Apart from that, it also shows no respect to this creation. Although the intention is to produce better species, sometimes this process is done without thinking the risk and it is just a test. Until now, there is no tested animals can survive with a good condition and it is always end with suffer and death. Our scientists now are even smart and they are working on it but human’s power is not same as God. We can copy what we have but we can’t make it 100 percent or make it even better. However, this is an effort that scientists shouldn’t stop as this effort has been done for decades. What we can get from this is the extension of knowledge and for our future leaders to produce better species. The group involved has to be concerned about this creation and make the best in every test.