Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Dolly- The Cloned Sheep

I found four articles from the New York Times written by Gina Kolata between 1997 and 2002 in which she covered the cloning of Dolly, the sheep, and the consequences that resulted from the procedure. Even though one of the articles mentions that “macabre jokes” evoked from the sheep’s cloning, the articles themselves are not written with sarcasm or ridicule. Rather, I saw all four articles to express the biological complications and success encountered by scientists and the sheep in a way that is easily understood by the public who does not have a scientific background.

“Cloned Sheep Showing Signs of Old Cells, Report Says,” is an article published May 27, 1999 where Scottish scientists- whom created Dolly- reported that the sheep’s genetic material in her cells may cause premature aging. The article mentions that if the assumption is confirmed, then genetic abnormalities would be associated to animal cloning, which would delay the possibilities of human cloning.

This article provided a lot of information regarding telomeres, which were defined as a “virtual aging clock for cells grown in the laboratory… the telomeres in older animals tend to be shorter than they are in younger animals.” I enjoyed reading this article because it presented the opposing views of various scientists. In my opinion, the article was objective because there was a balance between the success of a cloned animal and the genetic problems that resulted. The controversy in the article is whether or not Dolly’s telomeres are shorter than what they had been reported to be earlier.

Dr. Judith Campisi, who studies cellular aging at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, responded, “I’m not convinced the results are meaningful,” to cancer researcher, at the Whitehead Institute of Technology, Dr. Robert Weinberg’s statement that “it is difficult to distinguish between 22-kilobase-long telomeres and 19-kilobase-long telomeres.”

On February 14, 1998, Gina Kolata from the New York Times wrote an article about Dr. Ian Willmut’s acceptance at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science that he intended to try to clone an adult animal once more.

Critic Dr. Norton D. Zinder, a microbiologist at Rockefeller University in Manhattan challenged that Dr. Wilmut did not provide sufficient evidence to prove that Dolly was the clone of an adult. Because the cloning of Dolly was possible through the udder cell of a dead ewe, Dr. Zinder and other critics do not validate Dolly’s creation; hence, these scientists expect the process to be repeated.

Dr. Wilmut responded that attempting to successfuly clone a sheep from an original udder cell would take one-thousand tries and half a million dollars. Furthermore, Dr Wilmut reassured the audience that further tests were in process at other laboratories to prove that Dolly was certainly “a clone derived from the adult sheep.”

Dr. Ted Friedman, gene therapy researcher at the University of California in San Diego stated, “We will never reach an ethical consensus on this any more than on abortion.”

Coverage of Dolly the sheep provided, in my opinion, adequate information to inform the public sphere about the pros and cons regarding cloning. Cloning is a very controversial topic because it touches on religious, humanitarian, scientific, and spiritual concerns. For readers who want to base their support for cloning on scientific facts, the New York Times and reporter Gina Kolata used scientists from various parts of the world, specialists in a broad selection of science, and those with opposing views. I think it is important to emphasize that not all coverage regarding Dolly was comical or mere “macabre jokes.” The articles I read did not make me change my mind about cloning; however, I admire the scientific advances that are happening and the human potential to explore and maneuver lives.

Cloning, abortion, and gay marriages: all topics of controversy that as Doctor Friedman said, we will never be able to reject or support as a country. These three topics are subject to scrutiny because of people’s religion and morality. Hence, it is the newspaper’s responsibility to provide solely facts and or opinions, but not fancied with sarcasm, ridicule, and “macabre jokes.”

By GINA KOLATA. (1998, February 14). Creator of Cloned Sheep Says He Will Try to Repeat Process. New York Times (1857-Current file),p. A7. Retrieved April 8, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2005) database. (Document ID: 116988636).

By GINA KOLATA. (1999, May 27). Cloned Sheep Showing Signs Of Old Cells, Report Says. New York Times (1857-Current file),A19. Retrieved April 8, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2005) database. (Document ID: 117178516).

1 comment:

  1. This is very well researched and written blog about the cloned sheep. I wrote my blog on the exact same topic and interestingly enough came to a different conclusion about the coverage. When I read the articles that were published at the time of this cloning success I had a feeling that the coverage was from large majority sarcastic and in one way or the other made fun about the whole thing. The article you have chosen for your blog is lot more serious, unbiased and well focused than what I was going across. It provides good, throughout reporting and also quite solid coverage of the scientific procedures and techniques. Regardless of what the writer things this coverage brings information instead of biased opinion.
    I also liked the ending of your entry, your remark about the controversy topics that we will never be able to reject or support as a country. You are right (or Doctor Friedman is right), unfortunately… What makes me sad is that controversy of cloning is thrown in a same ‘bag’ with abortion and gay marriage. I think that’s ridiculous..