MadSci Network: Genetics

Re: does plant and animal cloning have great benefits to our economy

Date: Sun Feb 25 12:11:07 2001
Posted By: Greta Hardin, Secondary School Teacher, Science
Area of science: Genetics
ID: 981190325.Ge

Cloning Plants and Animals - Economic Benefit?	

	The short answer is... it depends.  In some respects, yes.  Right now, 
the best animals are used to produce as many offspring as possible.  But 
that only makes creates animals that have half of the desirable genetic 
traits.  So it is tempting to clone the best animals so you can have whole 
herds of these great animals - to produce meat or milk or hide or what ever.  
The risk is of course, you are limiting the possibility to produce different 
great animals, or even worse, all the animals are suceptible to the same 
	The same is essentially true with plants - cloning gives you the chance 
to reproduce great plants, but puts you in the same danger.
	So used wisely, cloning can help preserve excellent examples.  Used 
unwisely it may produce short term economic gains, but in the long term 
cause great catastrophies.

	Bioenginering is often confused with cloning.  In this, the exact same 
animal is not reproduced, instead desirable traits are spliced into an 
organism that does not normally posess them.  Current American examples of 
this are putting a fish gene in a tomato so it is resistant to freezing 
temperatures (doesn't get ruined if frost arrives), and some corn with a 
natural pesticide found in some soil dwelling bacteria.  This means that 
farmers get a better corn yield without using pesticides.
	The current problem with this practice is that the resulting plants may 
affect the ecosystem they inhabit in unsuspected ways.  In this case, there 
may be economic benefit either from the engineered plants or in the clean up 
effort if they cause ecological messes.  I know that is a pessimistic view 
point, but it is realistic.

	So I hope I have answered your question.  If you still have questions 
there are numerous sights on the internet that deal with this question.

for starters.

Good Luck!
Hope this helps,

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