Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Friday, December 24, 2021

No doubt, you’ve heard about the first cloned cat to be sold by Genetic Savings & Clone, Little Nicky.

In the spirit of my feelings about pets being convenient harbingers for commercialized human cloning, I offer a slightly re-imagined version of the Little Nicky AP story, with substitution words of my choice in [bracketed bold]. See if it doesn’t put a different spin on things:

SAN FRANCISCO — The first cloned-to-order [baby] sold in the United States is named [Nicky Jr.], a 9-week-old [boy] delivered to a Texas woman saddened by the loss of a [son] she had [raised] for 17 years.

The [baby] cost its [mother] $50,000 and was created from DNA from her beloved [son], named Nicky, who died last year.

“He is identical. His personality is the same,” the [mother], Julie, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. Although she agreed to be photographed with her [baby], she asked that her last name and hometown not be disclosed because she said she fears being targeted by groups opposed to cloning.

Yet while [Nicky Jr.], who was delivered two weeks ago, frolics in his new home, the [baby's] creation and sale has reignited fierce ethical and scientific debate over cloning technology, which is rapidly advancing.

The company that created [Nicky Jr.], Sausalito-based Genetic Savings and Clone, said it hopes by May to have produced the world’s first cloned [girl] — a much more lucrative market than [boys].

While it is based in the San Francisco Bay area, the company’s cloning work will be done at its new lab in Madison, Wis.

Commercial interests already are cloning prized [supermodels] for about $20,000 each, and scientists have cloned [firefighters, scientists, doctors, actors, and musicians]

Several research teams around the world, meanwhile, are racing to create the first cloned [football player].

Aside from [lawyer] cloning, which has been achieved only at the microscopic embryo stage, no cloning project has fueled more debate than the marketing plans of Genetic Savings and Clone.

“It’s morally problematic and a little reprehensible,” said David Magnus, co-director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics at Stanford University. “For $50,000, she could have provided homes for a lot of [orphans].”

[Children] rights activists complain that new [infant] production systems aren’t needed because thousands of [orphans] are [neglected] each year for want of homes.

Lou Hawthorne, Genetic Savings and Clone’s chief executive, said his company purchases thousands of ovaries from spay clinics across the country. It extracts the eggs, which are combined with the genetic material from the [babies] to be cloned.

Critics also complain that the technology is available only to the wealthy, that using it to create [babies] is frivolous and that customers grieving over lost [children] have unrealistic expectations of what they’re buying.

In fact, the first [baby] cloned in 2001 had a different [hair color] from its genetic donor, underscoring that environment and other biological variables make it impossible to exactly duplicate [children].

“The thing that many people do not realize is that the cloned [child] is not the same as the original,” said Bonnie Beaver, a Texas A&M [child] behaviorist who heads the American [Pediatric] Medical Association, which has no position on the issue. “It has a different personality. It has different life experiences. They want [Junior], but it’s not [Junior].”

Scientists also warn that cloned [children] suffer from more health problems than their traditionally bred peers and that cloning is still a very inexact science. It takes many gruesome failures to produce just a single clone.

Genetic Savings and Clone said its new cloning technique, developed by [human] cloning pioneer James Robl has improved survival rates, health and appearance. The new technique seeks to condense and transfer only the donor’s genetic material to a surrogate’s egg instead of an entire cell nucleus.

Between 15 percent and 45 percent of cloned [babies] born alive die within the first 30 days, Hawthorne said. But he said that range is consistent with natural births, depending on the breed of [human].

Austin, Texas-based ViaGen Inc., which has cloned hundreds of [babies], also is experimenting with the new cloning technique.

“The jury is still out, but the research shows it to be promising,” company president Sara Davis said. “The technology is improving all the time.”

Genetic Savings and Clone has been behind the creation of at least five [babies] since 2001, including the first one created.

It hopes to deliver as many as five more clones to customers who have paid the company’s $50,000 fee. By the end of next year, it hopes to have cloned as many as 50 [babies].

The company has yet to turn a profit.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 12/24/2004 02:41 PM
Category: Science, Society
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