More Animal Rights Reactions to Dog Cloning

As was mentioned a few days ago, South Korean researchers recently managed to clone a dog. Animal rights activists quickly reacted to this announcement by denouncing it as immoral.

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s Neal Barnard complained that the whole process was immoral and pointless. In an op-ed for the Ft. Worth Telegram, Barnard wrote,

First, one basic moral issue: The cloning process often means operating on
hundreds of animals to extract their eggs in order to try to produce an infant.
About 90 percent of cloning attempts fail to produce viable offspring. Those
born alive often have compromised immune systems and higher rates of infection
and tumor growth. A dismaying number — perhaps about 30 percent — suffer
from “large offspring syndrome,” a debilitating condition marked by an enlarged
heart, immature lungs and other health problems.

Even if cloning were more efficient, it still would not be the scientific
path we need to pursue. Answers to the most pressing human health problems —
heart disease, cancer, diabetes, hypertension and others — lie in understanding
human cells, human genes and, in some cases, human habits.

Profound physiological differences make it very difficult to extrapolate
experimental results from any animal to a human. Trying to use animals as
“models” for humans has produced catastrophic results: The anti-inflammatory drug
Vioxx, which tested as safe in mice and rats, turned out to double the risk of
heart attack and stroke in humans.

Well, at least no one will ever accuse Barnard of letting evidence get in his way. It is interesting that Barnard mentions heart disease, cancer and diabetes — all diseases that animal research has played a key role in understanding and treating — before falsely claiming that animal models are useless.

And, of course, Barnard cannot be bothered to note that the side effects of Vioxx also did not show up in human clinical trials either for a very good reason — the increase in heart and stroke risk appears to only occur after long-term use of the drug. The real issue raised by the Vioxx problem is how to balance the tradeoffs between getting a potentially lifesaving drug to market and having thorough clinical data of the long term effects of using a drug. Perhaps Barnard would favor requiring that companies do more animal testing that lasts for longer periods of time, as that is one clear way of discovering side effects like that seen with Vioxx.

Besides, the South Korean researchers made clear that their ultimate goal was creating embryonic stem cell lines with their technology, not the production of a line of cloned dogs. Unique aspects of the canine reproductive system mean that dog cloning is unlikely to become common.

Jennifer Fearing of United Animal Nations wrote an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle expressing similar views to Barnard’s,

And while some see animal cloning as an opportunity — albeit grotesquely
inefficient and arguably immoral — to advance animal or human health, others
are engaged in the effort strictly as a for-profit venture to reproduce
people’s pets. The wholly unregulated company that sold the cat Little Nicky as a
clone for $50,000 in December is aggressively marketing its gene-banking
services to veterinarians and to pet lovers across the country through direct mail
and ambitious public-relations strategies. Despite having produced only a
handful of cat clones and no dogs, this company, based in Sausalito, will
happily take your $1,395 (plus $150 a year in storage fees) along with Fido’s or
Fluffy’s DNA, on the off chance you can one day afford to pay the remaining
$30,000 to order up your clone. All this while, millions of healthy and
adoptable cats and dogs die every year only because there are not enough homes.

I’ll admit to being especially fond of animals, but I don’t know any pet
lover who would willingly comply with a process that caused the pain and
suffering of hundreds of animals to clone his or her favorite pet. Once people
really understand that the odds are better than not that the clone will not act
and possibly not even look like the animal they hope to replace, most are
turned off. They’re among more than 80 percent of the American public who are
opposed to pet cloning, according to a poll commissioned by the American Anti-
Vivisection Society. Those who fall for cloning’s false promise are being
misled, blinded by the grief of losing their beloved companion, or are more
interested in vanity and novelty than they are in what it means to be a companion
in the first place.

. . .

Don’t be fooled by the cute photos. For every one of those kittens and
puppies that they bring out into the light, there are hundreds more who suffered
to make that photo op possible. The “promise” of pet cloning isn’t humane —
to either the animals or the humans involved. It is a consumer fraud and an
animal welfare atrocity.

An atrocity!

The American Anti-Vivisection Society, which failed in its efforts to get the U.S. Department of Agriculture to regulate pet cloning firms, issued a press release that said, in part,

This experiment strongly reinforces the scientific consensus that animal cloning is consistently inefficient and results in traumatic animal suffering. According to the dog cloning study to be published in Nature August 4, 2005, multiple cloned embryos were transplanted into each of 123 dogs resulting in only three pregnancies and two live births. Of the two cloned Afghan hound male puppies, one survived; the other suffered respiratory distress and succumbed to aspiration pneumonia at three weeks of age.

In broader terms, this extremely inefficient pet cloning methodology may lead to misuse of pet cloning for profit and could seriously compromise the welfare of countless dogs. The American Anti-Vivisection Society is particularly concerned about the situation in the U.S. where pet cloning is unregulated, and the industry has been aggressively marketing pet cloning to veterinarians and potential consumers. AAVS, anticipating this event, has led a series of efforts to prohibit pet cloning and educate the public, including producing a report detailing the dangers of pet cloning, co-sponsored legislation in California to prohibit the sale of cloned pets, filing a petition with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) requesting regulation, continuing to meet with USDA, and keeping the media and consumers informed about the issue.

That legislation, also endorsed by United Animal Nations, has so far failed to make it out of committee in the California legislature.


Good grief, Snuppy. Jennifer Fearing, San Francisco Chronicle, August 10, 2005.

Is the tail wagging the dog? Neal Barnard, Ft. Worth Star Telegram, August 12, 2005.

USDA Rejects Call to Regulate Pet Cloning

In July, the U.S. Department of Agriculture rejected a petition by the American Anti-Vivisection Society asking the agency to regulate pet cloning companies as research facilities under the Animal Welfare Act.

In a letter to the AAVS, the USDA’s Chester Gipson wrote that,

GSC [Genetic Savings & Clone] is providing a production service, using in vitro technology combined with standard veterinary medical practice. Furthermore, we have determined that GSC is not a dog or cat dealer under the AWA, because the retail sales of dogs and cats are specifically exempted from the AWA.

Genetic Savings & Clone CEO Lou Hawthorne said that his company had also requested that pet cloning firms be regulated by the USDA — preferring one federal regulating body instead of having to deal with a patchwork of state regulations — but received the same response as the AAVS. Hawthorne told The Scientist,

However, the USDA/APHIS responded to our request in the same way that they responded to the AAVS petition: GSC does not require AWA oversight, because we outsource our animal care and only work with embryos at our facility. If/when we change our production model and maintain animals at our main facility — something we’re seriously considering — then we’ll again petition the USDA/APHIS to oversee our work under the terms of the AWA.

The USDA did say that in order to show its animals at animal shows, Genetic Savings & Clone would have to obtain an animal exhibitor’s license. Hawthorne told The Scientist that the company is in the process of finishing the license application and expects to receive approval from the USDA.


USDA: no pet cloning regulation. Ivan Oranksy, The Scientist, July 19, 2005.

California Activist Groups Form State Association

A number of animal rights groups in California have banded into a new statewide coalition, the California Animal Association, to “represent the interest of animals at the [California] state capitol.”

A press release sent out by the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights announcing the formation of the group said,

After more than a year of planning, CAA was formed to bring a stronger and more cohesive voice for animal protection to Sacramento. Many of the animal welfare and animal rights groups involved in CAA have individually or in small groups worked on legislation to strengthen animal protection laws or to defeat legislation that weakens protections for animals with California.

The members of the coalition include: American Anti-Vivisection Society, Animal Legislative Action Network, Animal Place, Animal Protection Institute, Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, California Animal Defense and Anti-Vivisection League, California Lobby for Animal Welfare, Doctors for Kindness to Animals, Farm Sanctuary, In Defense of Animals, Last Chance for Animals, Orange County People for Animals, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, The Paw Project, United Animal Nations, United Poultry Concerns and Viva! USA.


Animals gain strong and unprecedented voice in Sacramento. Teri Barnato, Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, Press Release, January 12, 2005.

University of Texas at Austin Disclaims Beagle Patent

Earlier this year, animal rights activists applauded the decision of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to reconsider a patent that the University of Texas at Austin obtained on a beagle disease model. In late May, the University of Texas at Austin formally gave up all of its rights to the beagle patent.

The University of Texas at Austin was awarded Patent # 6,444,872 for a fungal lung disease model applying to beagles and a number of other animals. The American Anti-Vivisection Society and a number of intellectual property groups asked the USPTO to overturn the patent on the grounds that the method of infecting the animals with the fungal lung disease were not novel or original.

On May 21, the USPTO agreed to reexamine the patent, and shortly thereafter UTA announced it would voluntarily give up its patent rather than defend the patent.

The motivations of the group concerned with patents makes sense, but the animal rights motivation seems a bit odd. AAVS president Sue Leary was quoted in a press release as saying,

It is fundamentally illegitimate and flawed to consider any animal to be patentable subject matter, and defined as a machine, an article of manufacture, or an inventor’s composition of matter. The horrible treatment of these patented dogs is a disgraceful illustration of the convergence of bad science and bad policy.

But, of course, the patent office wasn’t going to consider whether or not animals are patentable — that they are is already well established in the United States and the USPTO has issued more than 450 patents involving animals. All that was at issue here was whether or not the particular method used to infect the beagles with the fungal infection was novel or original.

Leary’s concern about the horrible treatment is even odder. If the method were patented, UTA and the private company it had licensed the patent to would have charged for the method and split the profits (at least for the term of the patent). With the patent rights disclaimed, anyone can use this method royalty free immediately.

So, in effect, Leary and her group fought to make it easier and cheaper for researchers to use this particular method.

Way to go, Sue!


Beagles win first round in fight for reprieve from patenting. Press Release, American Anti-Vivisection Society, May 21, 2004.

Groups object to UT’s beagle project. Associated Press, February 26, 2004.

Patent on beagle dogs cancelled. Press Release, American Anti-Vivisection Society, May 27, 2004.

American Anti-Vivisection Society Demands Immediate Halt to Xeno Research

Following research published in January that observed fused cells resulting from a mixing of human and pig DNA, the American Anti-Vivisection Society fired of a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services demanding an immediate halt to all xenotransplantation research.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic implanted human blood cells into fetal pigs. Some cells taken from the adult pigs were hybrids — they contained both human and pig DNA material. In addition, the hybrid cells contained the porcine endogenous retrovirus. As New Scientist noted in its summary of the study,

Previous laboratory work has shown that while PERVs in pig cells cannot infect human cells, those in hybrid cells can. The discovery therefore suggests a serious potential problem for xenotransplantation.

The work also suggests a possible route of infection for other viruses that have crossed from animals to humans.

The American Anti-Vivisection Society thinks that potential problem should result in an immediate halt to all such research. In a press release, the AAVS said,

Becuase organs from genetically-altered pigs have been heralded as the potential solution to alleviate the shortage of suitable human organs in the United States and elsewhere, the findings from this study provide an important case to abandon plans to transplant pig-derived cells, organs, and tissues into humans.

“This study clearly illustrates the dangers to public health that are inherent in xenotransplantation,” said AAVS Executive Director, Tina Nelson. “Not only could such transplants further jeopardize the lives of human patients who so desperately need a healthy organ, but also society as a whole, considering the likelihood of the patient also being infected with a dangerous retrovirus that could spread to other people.” The scientists involved postulate that HIV may have originated in this manner when an infected monkey bit a human and their stem cells fused. A retrovirus could also spread among scientists who work with the animals and/or their body parts and fluids.

. . .

“The solution to the organ donor shortage is not to place the burden on other animals but to change the donor system in the U.S. and make it a national priority. Xenotransplantation is similar to putting a filthy band-aid on an infected wound — it will not help but rather worsen the situation,” Nelson added. “I urge Secretary Thompson not to ignore these warnings signs.”

Oh sure, that makes sense — there’s a potential problem here, so lets stop all research!


Health Secretary Urged to Immediately Halt Trans-species Organ Transplants: Study Illustrates Dangers to Humans.

Pig-human chimeras contain cell surprise. New Scientist, January 13, 2004.

EPA Gets Partial Win in PETA/PCRM Lawsuit

In September 2002, a coalition of animal rights groups led by Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine sued the Environmental Protection Agency over a voluntary chemical testing program.

The High Production Volume Challenge Program is a voluntary testing program created by the EPA, Environmental Defense and the American Chemical Council to obtain toxicity data on 2,800 common chemicals whose total production/importation exceeds 1 million pounds annually.

The animal rights groups objected to the program because it would mean more animal testing of these chemical compounds.

Chemical & Engineering News reports that on August 25 a federal judge dismissed part of the lawsuit while allowing another part to move forward to trial.

The animal rights groups lost on the point most germane to the animal testing issue. PCRM and the others claimed that the agreement between EPA, Environmental Defense and the American Chemical Council violated the Federal Advisory Committee Act. The act requires government agencies to accept public input when setting up programs. The lawsuit argued that by simply reaching a deal with Environmental Defense and the American Chemical Council, the EPA had denied animal rights groups the opportunity to make their case against animal testing.

But the judge hearing the case found that the EPA had not violated the Federal Advisory Act.

He did, however, allow the case to go to trial on whether the EPA had violated the Toxic Substances Control Act. As Chemical & Engineering News sums it up,

They [animal rights groups] say that by selecting the chemicals for the program, EPA determined that it needed toxicity data for these compounds. This determination, they contend, required EPA to issue a regulation under the Toxic Substances Control Act to force chemical companies to produce the data — rather than set up a voluntary program.

Along with PCRM, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Alternatives Research and Development Foundation, and the American Anti-Vivisection Society were part of the lawsuit. Nice to see activists concerned about health trying to block a voluntary effort between industry and the government to improve toxicity data on commonly used chemicals.


Voluntary program passes legal hurdle. Cheryl Hogue, Chemical & Engineering News, September 8, 2003.