Is it ethical to clone a pet? A controversial business is already running in Spain

Three decades after the world’s first clone, Dolly the sheep, The pet cloning industry is going strong In countries such as China, the United States, South Korea and Argentina.

Celebrities like Barbara Streisand or Argentine President Javier Miley They publicly admitted that they had cloned their animals with a procedure that had already been marketed in Spain.

Although this work is still in its infancy, there is a company in Malaga, called Ovoclone, that has begun cloning cats and dogs. However, no one has been born yet They have already transferred the embryos to several femaleswho will photograph them.

How is it done?

First, DNA samples are obtained from the animal to be “transcribed,” either while it was alive or immediately after its death. Based on this article The nucleus is injected with all the genetic information In an egg from a female donor, from which the embryo will develop.

It will contain 99.9% of the genetic material of the original animal and will be implanted in the female who will become pregnant.

The cloned animal will have neither the behavior nor the personality of the original animal (iStock/Maxim Kabb)

This is confirmed by the director of the Ovoclone clinic, embryologist Enrique Criado The price will decrease in the coming years“Years ago, its price was 100,000 euros, and now it is worth half that amount.”

He added, “Five years from now, the number will be 20 or 30 thousand, and after 10 years, perhaps only five thousand.”

Since it is still out of reach for many pockets, they offer an alternative: Maintain the animal’s cell line For 3000 euros: “It’s not a lot of money If you want to have the peace of mind of being able to clone a pet one day,” Criado says.

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The procedure for selecting future clones is simple: “The vet takes a piece of skin from the animal while it is still alive, then we culture a series of cells and freeze them.”

“This is the genetic line of the animal. This is actually eternal, because it is frozen in nitrogen and lasts for a long time.”

The company guarantees a A copy almost like the original, but they are not identical. There is a percentage of 0.1% that can give physical characteristics different from those of the animal to be cloned.

The reasons for cloning cats and dogs are usually emotional, and Criado justifies this by saying: “According to statistics, 15% of pets in Spain are humanized animals, meaning that People love them as if they were children for you”.

Legal action, but ethical?

Pet cloning It is not regulated in Spain Although the cloning procedure is permitted. Animal societies consider it abuse He denounced it as a meaningless experiment that causes suffering to many animals when kennels are full of abandoned cats and dogs.

According to neurologist Bernabé Robles, of Catalonia’s Bioethics Committee, limits exist Exploiting animals to satisfy human desires: “How far can we go with our desires? The moral limit is this. If human desire justifies the suffering of other sentient beings through the actions it follows.”

“I find a lot of investment and a lot of tools. This is precisely why human cloning is prohibited No to exploiting them. “It’s a red line.”

The neurologist believes that this phenomenon A product of the mentality of consumer society: “A society like ours that lives on consumption assumes that any desire must be satisfied. The key is Converting desires into needs“So since I want it so bad and it’s technically possible to do it, if I don’t get it, I’m bad.”

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Robles compares Legal gap around this practice With what is in surrogacy, he points out that another problem is that the Animal Welfare Law does not directly address pet cloning, nor does it regulate its procedures.

the world Refutes the main argument of clinics Who clone pets: “They say we’re humanizing pets. Well, if that’s the argument, let’s remember that humans can’t be legally cloned precisely because we give them intrinsic value.”

In addition, he points out that “it must be taken into account At what cost does this do considering that you are not reviving your animal?“.

Lack of transparency

The neurologist recalls that all animal experiments must be done by law Review by ethics committee He denounces companies’ lack of transparency. “It’s a technological innovation, and like all of them, it has to go through a research ethics committee, which is what I’ve been missing with all these animal experiments.”

“I have not found approval of the projects. I have no record of any discussion.”

Bernabe Robles admits this Point in favor of companieswhich is that they can only guarantee an inaccurate genetic copy: “One thing they are transparent about is that they warn that they cannot return your dead animal to you, that it will be a replacement.”

There’s another issue to consider, according to the neurologist What quality of life will these cloned animals have?: “Dolly the sheep wasn’t having a good life.”

It should also be considered whether any animals suffer during these procedures, such as egg donors or pregnant mothers, or If the products of these experiments will suffer and die“He’s referring to.

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Horse racing business

Ovohorse, a subsidiary of the Andalusian clinic, has already done so Mares pregnant with cloned embryosjust like any other laboratory To BarcelonaLed by embryologist Nuno Costa Borges. This is the other side of the cloning business.

The Red Clinic also offers a horse cloning service (iStock)

They are competition horses and this is a business Transfer a lot of moneywhere animal owners want to guarantee a winning horse: “It may be useful, for example, if you want to clone geldings or other competition horses, but they suddenly die,” explains Costa Borges.

In the world of horse or camel racing, a purebred can cost up to one million euros, whereas… Reproductions go for about 75,000 This obviously makes economic sense.

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