Posted by Dr Jarrod Bailey on 5th July 2016
Dolly the sheep
20 years on, animal cloning is still pointless and cruel
As with so many animal research ‘breakthroughs’, the cloning of Dolly the sheep failed to result in the many benefits for humans claimed at the time. Cloning Dolly took hundreds of attempts, and 20 years later cloning animals remains an extremely wasteful process involving much suffering for the animals involved.
Many cloned animals are born with serious malformations and die in early life. Often, there are also adverse welfare consequences for these animals, who may suffer from premature ageing and associated diseases.
Previously claimed benefits such as generating human medicines cheaply in milk, for example, are instead being realised via other, cheaper, quicker, and more humane means. Proponents assert that cloning Dolly has led to a better understanding of stem cells, although evidence shows that this progress has been achieved through alternative methods, such as humane culture of human and mammalian cells in the laboratory.
This is where science should be heading. Animal researchers exaggerating the significance of their work, and therefore persisting with it in the face of failure, will only fail human patients too.