Position Statement on Pet Cloning
Our current knowledge of animal cloning indicates that there are important welfare concerns at issue. Reports on the health and condition of mammalian animals produced by cloning have indicated a variety of anatomical and physiological problems. It is difficult to document fully the consequences of cloning or bioengineered applications of companion animals since many of these activities fall outside the framework of publicly funded and regulated research programs. While this work is privately funded, it does demand public attention and scrutiny. This is especially true given the fact that the purpose of this work is to produce animals who will be provided for the public. It is important then that the voice of the public be heard, and that sufficient time be allowed for appropriate scientific and ethical analysis of the procedures and practices associated with cloning and bioengineering of pets. This type of “pause” in the work to consider its implications has a precedent in the biotechnology field. In the early 1970s, scientists called for a voluntary moratorium on research involving recombinant DNA. This led to a conference at Asilomar in 1975 to evaluate the concerns and dangers. Subsequent phases resulted in the procedures and practices that have protected workers and the public while at the same time reaping the benefits of biotechnology. This response should be employed again.
The ASPCA calls for a moratorium on the research, promotion and sale of cloned and bioengineered pets. During the moratorium, a multidisciplinary commission should be established to evaluate the manner in which the work has proceeded, the regulations and oversight required to protect the safety of human and nonhuman animals, and the ethical consequences of continuing this work. The commission should include representatives from industry, academic scientists, animal welfare professionals, veterinarians and bioethicists. They should have access to all available and appropriate data on the procedures employed and the medical records of both animals used in the creation of cloned and bioengineered pets and of any pets who have been created. The report of this commission should then be used to develop guidelines, regulations and restrictions as appropriate to govern work in this area.