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article imageUS company no longer cloning dogs

By Kevin Jess     Sep 16, 2009 in World
A patent dispute between pet cloning company BioArts International and a Korean company, RNL Bio has ended with BioArts ending it's cloning of dogs citing the Korean company's lack of concern for animal welfare among other things.
In a statement explaining the BioArts decision, Lou Hawthorne, CEO BioArts International said he began investigating dog cloning in 1997, initially with the goal of cloning his family dog, Missy.
Hawthorne was very happy with the results and was successful in cloning Missy. She died in 2002 at the age of 15, but her clone Mira, is a close and constant companion to Hawthorn.
On September 5, 2009 BioArts delivered their fifth and final set of clones.
In his statement he says that over the past year things have changed which have led him to conclude that it no longer makes sense for him to be in the pet cloning market. He gives several reasons for his decision.
He says that the market for these services was "extremely small."
In a 2008 promotion called the 'Golden Clone Giveaway', the company offered a grand prize of a free clone of the winner's dog. To his surprise there were only 237 entries. They had initially expected tens if not hundreds of thousands of entries.
He concluded that if so few people wanted the service when the price was zero then the market for dog cloning is at best a specialized niche where if you couldn't charge a high price then it wasn't worth pursuing.
Another reason for shutting down operations is what Hawthorne calls "unethical, black market competition." He accused RNL Bio of charging unrealistic, low prices for their cloning services. He said that "every time RNL Bio offered cloning services at $150,000, they would say that they would soon be offering the services for $30,000." He adds, "there is no way that RNL can deliver clones for $30,000 unless they completely abandon all bioethical safeguards for surrogate mothers who carry the clones to term."
He says it requires an average of twelve dogs as donors and recipients to produce a singled cloned puppy and that in South Korea dogs are so plentiful that finding donors is not a problem.
According to a 1999 report by BBC, 8,500 tons of dog meat is consumed per year in South Korea, with another 93,600 tons used to produce a medicinal tonic called gaesoju.
BioArts' vendor contract with RNL Bio, "guaranteed a certain standard of animal welfare, including that surrogates used to carry embryos for BioArts were never to be returned to the farms that produced them – where their destiny would surely be slaughter, and ultimately meat or tonic," said Hawthorne.
If prices remain high cloning companies would be able to cover the cost of ethical safeguards, which require that the surrogate dogs either be adopted or maintained in perpetuity in relative comfort.
But, since RNL will be charging low prices, he reasons that "for every dog cloned by RNL in the future, it’s likely that a dozen or more will be slaughtered for food as a direct result."
The South Korean biotechnology firm will open a centre early next year eventually capable of producing up to 1,000 cloned dogs annually reports Physorg.
More about Clone, Dogs, Patent, Dispute, Korea
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