Cloning Canine Patriotism?

Posted by Marcy Darnovsky July 11, 2008
Biopolitical Times
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The dog-and-pony show - er, I mean the dog-cloning business - improbably stars a Marin County impresario, an eccentric billionaire, and a pair of disgraced Korean cloning researchers who used to be partners but are now firing legal shots at each other over cloning patents.

The pet cloners' latest public-relations foray began with Marin County entrepreneur Lou Hawthorne's May appearance on Good Morning America. Sadly, GMA pliantly showcased the cute puppy clones but completely missed most of the story, including the involvement of cloning fraudster and embezzler Hwang Woo Suk (1, 2) and his ex-partner Lee Byeong-chun.

But the GMA feature was just a warm-up for a "Golden Clone Giveaway" essay contest sponsored by the "Best Friends Again" division of the Hawthorne-Hwang company, BioArts. And the contest, in turn, was a come-on for an online auction of five dog cloning "slots," with bids starting at $100,000.

When BioArts announced the winner of its Golden Clone contest on June 30, it broke new ground in emotional manipulation. The dog that BioArts says it will replicate for free is a German Shepherd that was already famous for his role in the search-and-rescue operation at Ground Zero following the 9/11 attacks. That dog - and those who spent hundreds of hours training him - are indeed heroes. The cloning ringmasters who are trying to appropriate the 9/11 disaster for a practice that abuses pets and misleads pet lovers are simultaneously ridiculous and offensive.

Meanwhile, outside the circus ring, the legal battle between BioArts and another dog-cloning company, Korea-based RNL Bio, continues to simmer, with both sides claiming exclusive worldwide dog cloning rights.

According to the Best Friends Again website, its online cloning auction concluded on July 9 at 3 pm Pacific time. As of today, the website shows only two of the five slots sold, and BioArts has provided no confirming details about the buyers or selling prices.

And in a display of collective good sense, the media has studiously ignored the entire cloning contest and auction sideshow.

Previously on Biopolitical Times: