News this morning states that Barbra Streisand has successfully cloned her departed pooch. But what is the process, and how legal is it?
Memories, as the song famously states, light the corners of my mind. Now, a cat might have said it, but today’s context lies around the collar of a dog. Precisely, the dog of Barbra Streisand. Slight bit of background, Bab’s original pooch, Samantha, went to the great doggy park in the sky in 2017. Sad right? Yeah, I know. The death of your infinite pal is hell on earth. However, Streisand has scrubbed the rest of the previous sentence, bar the word “infinite”, deciding to clone her departed friend to forever shit on her carpet.
According to scientific journal Variety, Striesand was able to take cells from Samantha to create identical genetic copies of the original. Guys, meet Miss Violet and Miss Scarlett. Don’t let the cutesy soubriquet fool you, Fran Drescher’s demigod has morphed into playing God for realsies.
“They have different personalities,” Streisand says. “I’m waiting for them to get older so I can see if they have her [Samantha’s] brown eyes and seriousness.”
I mean, the obvious question, other than Why? and are you ok, Babs? is How?
Well, according to some uneducated googling, and leafing through the syntactically impaired pitch decs of pun-flavoured companies that purport the process, hello to you, perPETuate Inc, apparently, the process of cloning pets is possible, but only through the transference of live tissue.
Now, the steps, and I seriously hope MyFriendAgain.com is a hoax website that’s too clever for me to understand, but after you purchase a kit to house the DNA (which costs about $1200, so probably not the one that Barbra used), and follow the series of unfortunate events listed below.
So, again, I certainly hope that the above doesn’t actually happen, and is just a really lazy way to part fools from their money…but according to Google, the Sooam Biotech research facility actually does exist, and not only that, its website lists the process one will need to do in order to copy your pooch. Further Googling hyperbolically tags them as the “leading laboratory in the world for dog cloning,” their apparent process involves implanting DNA into a blank dog egg minus the nucleus. The egg is given shocks to trigger cell division, and is then implanted into a surrogate.
Further to that point, this UK Telegraph article from 2016 tells the story of a Yorkshire couple who cloned their deceased Boxer, Dylan. Guess which South Korean research facility the couple in question used.
Laura Jacques, the mother of the (now three) Dylan(s) retold the story to Buzzfeed, stating:
“We had to go to a Boots (a pharmacy) store to get all the instruments we needed to get the cells.
“It was a scientific breakthrough, it had never been done before, and we just thought it was meant to be.
“We went to South Korea for the birth and it was just surreal.
“Richard said, ‘Oh my gosh, they look just like Dylan!’ and I was just in shock at this point.”
Is it illegal? Well, back in 2005, the state of California voted down a bill that would ban the cloning pets. Wind the clock forward to September 2015, and the EU handed down a blanket ban on the cloning of farm animals. However, the entirety of the Dylan story above dates to February 2016, so the ban clearly only extends to the borders of the Union.
So, technically, yes, it is absolutely legal.
Is it ethically questionable? Well, the RSPCA is not particularly keen on the process. A spokesperson said: “There are serious ethical and welfare concerns relating to the application of cloning technology to animals. Cloning animals requires procedures that cause pain and distress, with extremely high failure and mortality rates. There is also a body of evidence that cloned animals frequently suffer physical ailments such as tumours, pneumonia and abnormal growth patterns.”
I mean, you do you, Sooam Biotech Research Facility/Barbra Streisand, but the important thing to remember about sharing a life with doggy best friend is accepting who they are, and accepting that at some point, as horrible as it is to say, you will have to let them go.
But even when they do, you’ll still have these. Hopefully unsullied by genetic interlopers.