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Animal Cloning Background

False Promises

On a whim in 1997, an Arizona billionaire asked his entrepreneurial friend to help him find a team of scientists who could clone his dog Missy. He poured millions of dollars into what became both the “Missyplicity Project” and a Sausalito, California-based company called Genetic Savings & Clone, Inc. (GSC Inc.)—which joined with Texas A&M University and funded cat and dog cloning experiments there.

Close up picture of cat Despite several attempts, GSC Inc. has never cloned a dog successfully. The first successful effort to clone a cat happened at A&M in December 2001 and resulted in the birth of a kitten named CC. GSC Inc. and the veterinary scientists at A&M have since parted ways over differing scientific opinions, but GSC Inc. has kept its own private laboratory in Texas (soon moving to Wisconsin) which is dedicated only to cloning pets. According to GSC Inc., the 245 dogs and cats who were part of the original group used in the failed cloning experiments were put up for adoption over the course of the project and after it ended.

GSC Inc. is now advertising the first-ever public sales of cloned cats. For its “Nine Lives Extravaganza,” GSC Inc. offered to take six orders from members of the public who wished to have a cloned version of their feline companion for $50,000 and promised to deliver them by November—then December—2004. The company reports that five orders were taken. In August 2004, GSC Inc. announced the June births of two cats, Tabouli and Baba Ganoush, who were cloned to use for marketing purposest. A third kitten named Peaches was later born, and in December 2004, the company had delivered only one pet cloned cat—a kitten named Little Nicky. In February, it delivered a second kitten to a paying customer but failed to account for the other three cloned kittens who were 'ordered' in 2004.

This company and others also advertise themselves as DNA ‘banks’ through which people can submit DNA from their dogs or cast with the hope that someday they will be able to have a ‘clone’ of their companion animal. The cost for this is varies from $295 to $1,395 plus $100-$150 annually for storage fees. GSC Inc. has also announced plans to offer dog cloning in 2005, even though only one dog in the world has ever survived cloning.

GSC Inc. is not the only pet cloning company, but it is the only one currently offering to actually clone companion animals. Other pet cloning companies in the U.S. are Lazaron Biotechnologies, ForeverPet, and PerPETuate, Inc.

The legitimacy of these companies has yet to be measured.

We can produce a genetically identical copy of our pet, but we delude ourselves if we think we have somehow accomplished something by this substitution.”
(Lawrence M. Hinman, University of San Diego, LA Times, 8/24/04)
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