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.

PETA’s Hypocrisy on Cloning Cats

A California company, Genetic Savings & Clone, became the first company in the country to offer cloned animals private individuals. Cloned animals have been available for commercial livestock and some endangered species, but Genetic Savings & Clone is the first company to my mind where anyone can walk in, put down their money, and at some point walk out with a cloned animal — in this case, cats.

The service is not cheap. The company charges $295 to $1,395 plus annual charges to store the genetic material of cats. Producing an actual clone from said genetic material will run more than $30,000 (initially the company charged $50,000, but apparently reduced that due to lack of demand).

Of course such services have produced an inevitable backlash, especially given how many unwanted cats there are out there. The California legislature is considering banning cat cloning, the American Anti-Vivisection Society has petitioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture to regulate it, and even People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is getting in on the action with a very odd argument.

In a report on the cat cloning business on the website of Florida’s Sun-Sentinel newspaper, PETA’s Mary Beth Sweetland is quoted as saying,

It defies logic to think that somebody can feel right about paying $50,000 for a cat when 17 million dogs and cats are killed in shelters every year. That money could be put towards the support of innumerable homeless animals if these people truly care about animals.

Huh? Has Sweetland check out any of PETA’s Form 990s lately? For example, according to its 2002 Form 990, PETA had total expenses in 2002 of $21,484,419. How much of that went to helping alleviate the issue of pet overpopulation? Exactly $208,598 for a spay/neuter program. In contrast, that same year PETA sent almost $4.8 million to the Foundation to Support Animal Protection which is a front group PETA uses to contribute money to Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine while pretending the two are independent organizations.

How much good could PETA have done by spending that $4.8 million on helping shelters? Yet Sweetland has the gall to complain because someone might spend 1 percent of that amount to clone a favorite pet?

I personally think spending that much to clone a cat is a bit silly, but then again I also do not understand why anyone would pay $35,000 for a Mickey Mantle rookie card or $200,000 for a Lamborghini. To each his own.


‘Frankenkitty’ or priceless duplicate? Howard Witt, Sun-Sentinel.Com, March 6, 2005.