Sir, – Further to “Chinese scientists break key barrier by cloning monkeys” (January January 24th), whether cloning is carried out on mice, sheep, dogs, or monkeys, it serves only to increase animal suffering.
Animal mothers are subjected to surgical procedures in order to harvest their eggs and implant the cloned embryos, and they continue to suffer long afterwards. They commonly endure a painful birth, since their cloned offspring are often heavier than naturally conceived young. Additionally, cloned animals’ mortality rates are extremely high during both pregnancy and infancy. Dolly the sheep was the sole surviving adult from 277 attempts, and overall, 90 per cent of cloning attempts fail. Cloned animals are also likely to have defective immune systems and to suffer from heart failure, respiratory difficulties, and muscle and joint problems.
Sir Ian Wilmut, one of Dolly’s co-creators, told Time magazine, “Even if you use the same method as consistently as you can, you may get some clones with severe abnormalities and some that have only minor ones.”
Many years and thousands of animal deaths since her birth, there has been little improvement in the effectiveness of the technique. Cloning primates will not solve medical problems but will lead to misery for these intelligent and sensitive beings. If Dolly taught us just one thing, it is that cloning animals is best left in science-fiction stories. – Yours, etc,
Dr JULIA BAINES,
Science Policy Adviser,
People for the Ethical
Treatment of Animals,