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About Animal Technologies

Many applications of animal cloning and genetic modification are controversial for environmental, health, animal welfare, and social reasons.

At least eighteen animal species have been cloned since 1996, when scientists produced Dolly the sheep, the world's first cloned mammal. Then and now, only a tiny percentage of cloning attempts produce live offspring. Many of these clones are unhealthy, and some leading scientists believe that none are "normal."

Nonetheless, animal cloning efforts continue. Some are justified as scientific experiments. Others are commercial ventures, either to produce pets for consumers or breeding animals for the livestock industry. The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the inclusion of meat and milk from cloned animals (without labels) in the  food supply.

Like cloning, genetic modification of animals is remarkably inefficient. It is being pursued for several purposes. Genetically modified (or transgenic) animals are commonly used in research. Efforts are underway to produce transgenic pigs as a source of organ transplants, transgenic fish for food, and transgenic livestock that resist animal diseases. In a practice sometimes called pharming, several mammalian species (cattle, sheep, and goats) have been genetically engineered to produce commercially useful human proteins in their milk. Fish engineered to glow in the dark have been developed and marketed as pets. Proposals to clone extinct species, particularly mammoths and neanderthals, regularly appear in the news media.

First CRISPR Gene Drive in Mosquitoes Aims to Eradicate Malariaby Antonio RegaladoMIT Technology ReviewNovember 23rd, 2015Designers of a “selfish” gene able to spread among mosquitoes say it could wipe out malaria, but the scientific community is at odds over whether or not we should do it.
F.D.A. Takes Issue With the Term ‘Non-G.M.O.’by Stephanie StromThe New York TimesNovember 20th, 2015In addition to balking at "organisms," the FDA argues an industry-serving definition of “genetic modification,” comparing thousands of years of breeding techniques to extremely modern synthetic biology tools.
Scientists may soon be able to 'cut and paste' DNA to cure deadly diseases and design perfect babiesby Tanya LewisBusiness InsiderNovember 19th, 2015CRISPR gene editing tools are being proposed for a wide range of uses, many of which pose risks to ecological systems and human society.
Uterus Transplants May Soon Help Some Infertile Women in the U.S. Become Pregnantby Denise GradyThe New York TimesNovember 12th, 2015The Cleveland Clinic will become the first US site for experimental uterus transplants.
The Risks of Assisting Evolutionby Elizabeth AlterThe New York TimesNovember 10th, 2015Crispr-Cas9 and gene drive allow us to bend evolution to our will, but will they spark an ecological catastrophe?
Should Human Stem Cells Be Used To Make Partly Human Chimeras?by Rob SteinNPRNovember 6th, 2015The NIH has declared a moratorium on research that puts human stem cells into nonhuman animal embryos.
Powerful 'Gene Drive' Can Quickly Change an Entire Speciesby Rob SteinNPRNovember 5th, 2015Scientists are creating insects genetically engineered to produce only certain types of offspring. Uncertainty about environmental effects is causing widespread and serious concern.
First Gene-Edited Dogs Reported in Chinaby Antonio RegaladoMIT Technology ReviewOctober 19th, 2015An extra-muscular beagle has been created through CRISPR-Cas9 genome engineering. Are we on our way to customizing the DNA of our pets, and children?
Four Synthetic Biology Inventions That Flummox the Fedsby Kelly ServickScienceOctober 15th, 2015As researchers develop ways to genetically engineer living organisms, studies highlight the lack of clarity about which US regulatory agency would be charged with approval or oversight.
Disgraced Scientist Clones Dogs, and Critics Question His Intentby Rob SteinNPRSeptember 30th, 2015Sooam Biotech, founded by scientific pariah Hwang Woo Suk, has cloned over 600 dogs for $100,000 each. The process works only one-third of the time and is risky.
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