A Northern California biotech company announced last week that it will clone dogs of the five highest bidders in a series of on-line auctions. Some ethicists condemned the offer, fearing it could lead to human clones.
Opening bids start at $100,000 for the service being offered by Mill Valley-based BioArts International. BioArts chief executive Lou Hawthorne formerly ran Genetic Savings & Clone, which offered to clone pet cats for $50,000 but folded in 2006 because few were willing to pay so much.
Hawthorne said in a phone interview that another service his old company provided — the storage of pet DNA for future possible clones — showed him the market for dog clones was strong. “The average dog owner has a different relationship with his dog than the average cat owner,” Hawthorne said. “The level of intensity on the dog side just dwarfed what we saw on the cat side.”
To conduct the clonings, BioArts has partnered with a South Korean research team that recently created three clones of Hawthorne’s family dog, Missy, who died in 2002. The team was led by Hwang Woo-suk, who scandalized the international scientific community in 2005 when his breakthrough human cloning research involving embryonic stem cells was found to have been faked.
Some groups that monitor advances in genetic technology argue that the company’s project, called “Best Friends Again,” could serve as a gateway to more unsavory practices.
CLONED BABIES NEXT?
“Many people consider pets to be part of our families,” Marcy Darnovsky, associate director of the Oakland-based center for Genetics and Society said. “If we get used to cute cloned puppies, will some people expect cute cloned babies next?”
WOULD YOU DO IT?
So are you all ready to plunk down $100,000 or more to get your best friend dog cloned?
Yes? Please tell us why.
No? Why not?
How do you feel about this whole cloning thing? By the way, the dog cloning auctions are scheduled to begin on June 18. /Gary
More about this (be prepared for a big time sales pitch!) on the Web at Best Friends Again: