For the advancement of biomedical research and perhaps also in a unreported quest to produce the perfect Christmas ham — my alma mater has seen fit to clone pigs. I’m a fan of Babe too, but this pushes the bounds of necessity. Do we really “need” to clone pigs, or is this just some procedural publicity stunt? Look everybody, we can clone stuff! Neat!
Reading the fine print of the article and discovering that 17 pigs were cloned but only 10 remain because the research group decided to dissect 7 “copies” for the sake of medical curiosity (and to make sure they weren’t horrible mutants…) makes my anti-vivisectionist hackles go up. I mean, I ate bacon and ham today, but this sort of morbid Frankenporker stuff is a bit much. Qui bono? To push the porcine final frontier of medical research (you know, like Pigs…in…Space) when basic health care is sometimes still a hurdle? Hubris, plain and simple.
Curious to reflect on this minor science news story within the larger framework of the Global Day of Action on Climate Change. Superficially unrelated, there is a sense in which these two stories are symptomatic of the same problem — a basic perception that the natural world is all just a giant science project. These challenges — of environmental catastrophe and our ethically unlimited techno-scientific enterprise — are essentially linked. Like sausages.
Besides, cloning pigs? Really? So we can do what — create Homer Simpson’s ideal “magical animal”? Or determine the environmental factors that distinguish a Snowball from a Napoleon? Seems pretty ham-fisted to me.