Ever since Dolly the Sheep was cloned, the ethical issues around the science has proved a hot button issue. The arguments could surface once again as state-backed publication China Daily is reporting that some of the country’s scientists are cloning police dogs in an effort to minimise training time.
Based in the city of Kunming, the Yunnan Agricultural University and Beijing Sinogene Biotechnology have successfully cloned a Kunming wolfdog (looks similar to a German Shepard) named Kunxun.
At the time of writing Kunxun is two months old and was cloned from a wolfdog renowned for its detecting instincts the publication adds.
As such it’s believed that cloning the aforementioned dog would make it easier for dog trainers to hone the same sort of instincts in Kunxun, considering he’s an exact biological copy.
Regarding the cloning procedure, somatic cells taken from the skin of the older dog were used to create cloned embryo, which was then implanted into a beagle for the birthing process.
According to researcher Wan Jiusheng, this first clone is an experiment, but there is plan to produce far more cloned police dogs within the next 10 years.
“Cloning police dogs is at an experimental phase. It’s hoped that we can mass produce cloned good-performing police dogs as techniques mature in the next 10 years,” says Wan.
“The program also plans to establish a somatic cell bank of good-performing police dogs that can be preserved for 50 years and a group of good-performing police dogs for breeding to fast breed good police dogs,” he adds.
Naturally these latest developments brings up several ethical issues as far as what constitutes responsible treatment of a domesticated animal like a dog. Furthermore, should there be any hidden or unidentified genetic weaknesses in an entire pack of cloned police dogs, their life expectancy could be severely hampered.
Whether other countries across the globe are interested in using cloning in the same way China has, remains to be seen.[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]