Saturday, March 31, 2007

Cloned Wolves

Korean team creates first cloned wolves-News-UK-Science-TimesOnline

Or so goes the story in today's Times of London online edition about the creation off Snuwolf and Snuwolffy by the lab once led by the now disgraced Woo Suk Hwang. Hwang's downfall came because of fraudulent claims, published in Science, that he had successfully cloned human embryos. About the same time, he threw the bone of the cloned Afghan hound to Nature, and that claim has withstood intense scrutiny. Supposedly these wolves were created in 2005, before Hwang's demise and so he is listed as an author on the forthcoming paper. Even if this band of genetic cowboys has failed, someone else will surely succeed, and that's the source of my concern.

American zoos have frequently argued that they are genetic refugia, and that 'fact' justifies their existence. More than a few scientists have longed to clone the last remnant(s) of critically endangered populations. It's hard to fault the impulse to preserve that which humans in their wanton ignorance destroy, but if it is the fate of the saved to live in zoos or preserves, because their is no place on the planet they can wander freely and have an opportunity to flourish, what's the point. Proponents of this sort of genetic warehousing say it at least prevents extinction, always unacceptable, and at best will provide animals for the day humans become capable of sharing the plane with other creatures--FFC--that's 'fat fucking chance.' Humans don't even manifest the ability to share the planet with each other or even their dogs, their putative best friend among other species, much less another species, especially a predator. Humanity's war against other predators has been long and intense and often bloody, pursued for no reason other than atavistic fear and loathing--one of the reasons we commit violence on each other. To think we will change our ways is to indulge in the most naive sort of wishful thinking. It is just another act of cruelty.

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