British Professor Twink Allen accused the British government of caving to pressure from animal rights activists in denying his application for a license to clone horses. Dr. Allen wanted to clone horses, in part, to improve genetic selection of competition horses.
According to the BBC, The Home Office, which approves animal research in Great Britain, turned down Allen’s request after concluding that the possible benefits did not outweigh the possible harms to the animals involved.
Allen told the Daily Mail that British politicians were afraid of animal rights activists and chose the easy way out,
It is wimpishness on the part of politicians. They are frightened there might be some protests and they don’t want to even face that. It’s blatant Government suppression of innovative science for political expedience.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Animals backed the government’s decision. The RSPCA’s Natasha Lane told the BBC (emphasis added),
Cloning horses or any animal for competition purposes is completely unacceptable. It’s a trivial purpose and cloning causes pain and suffering to animals because the vast number of embryos die, and those that don’t die may develop abnormalities and die young.
Lane’s line about the death of cloned embryos is a bit odd — does she consider horse embryos to be moral patients?
Not to worry though, this research — like others — will simply move to other countries. Italian scientists cloned the first horse in August 2003.
Allen plans to appeal the rejection of his license application.
Expert fights horse cloning ban. Christine McGourty, BBC, May 5, 2004.
Horse-cloning scientist hits out at ‘Home Office wimps’. Robin Yapp, Daily Mail (London), May 6, 2004.