|MadSci Network: Genetics|
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 disease. 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. Try http://www.discover.com/ for starters. Good Luck! Hope this helps, Greta
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