Cloning: A Symptom of Our Times
The cloning of the sheep "Dolly", which was reported at the end of February 1997, evoked a vehement public discussion. Any time a story makes the headlines, it is prudent to ask whether news is being made-media hype-or if justifiably an important issue is being presented to the public for discussion. The case of the sheep cloning was certainly a mixture of both. Dolly made a good story. Specters of identical creatures peopling the earth aroused fear, repulsion, and anger, making wonderful material for articles and talk shows.
But the report also stimulated a much needed discussion about the power and possible consequences of biological manipulations. The question of clearer regulation of biotechnology came to the fore. Thinking about identity and individuality were thrust into public discussion. I view the cloning of Dolly and the ensuing public discussion as a symptom of our complex times. This approach allows us to go beyond a reactive response by attempting to read what this symptom can reveal.
What was done?
Ian Wilmut and his colleagues at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh extracted and cultured cells from the mammary gland