Look Ma, no Pa

Talk about your faux leather.

Some vets and researchers at UC Davis have taken nature by the horns and produced a cow by cloning. It’s an amazing process and amazingly difficult to make happen. And ultimately it’s difficult on the animals—a very large number of the cow clones have defects and the efforts end in failure, i.e. the clones die.

Beyond the challenge of testing one’s genetic skills and making the seemingly impossible happen, the researchers see a greater good in continued experimentation. A healthier strain of cattle is more economic and could produce healthier milk.

Many of us are OK with animal experimentation but get jittery when the topic of human cloning is approached. The image of producing precise duplicate copies of people gets too weird. Who would they copy? An athlete like Tiger Woods and expect a champion golfer every time?

It is an insult to Tiger Woods to think that his parents, coaches and a work ethic developed along the way weren’t the key factors that produced a champion with dedication and a will to win.

But some parents might get tempted to fool with nature, and that’s why careful study in both genetics and ethics is needed before human cloning research can go forward. It’s a topic that will certainly keep reproducing itself in the years to come, so check out our cover story, “Bring in the Clones.” —Tom Walsh