Can You Clone that Thoroughbred?

USA Today has an interesting article this morning about the position of various purebred animal promotion associations (think American Kennel Club) on animal cloning. While most such organizations (including the AKC) have not yet taken a position, a few of them (including those governing greyhound, harness horse, and quarter horse racing) don’t allow cloned animals to participate. The good news is that only one of the groups mentioned in the article (the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) identified animal safety as its ostensible reason for banning such animals. Friends of CEI will likely know from our prior writings on the matter (see here and here) that cloning gives rise to no animal safety issues that don’t also arise in artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, and even normal sexual reproduction. So, that allegation is a red herring.

What’s noteworthy about the article is that some of the other groups that do not register cloned animals (such as the United States Trotting [horse] Association) indicated that their objection is based solely on the fact that cloning only replicates superior animals; it does not lead to an improvement of the breed, which is the very purpose of those organizations in the first place. That’s an important point to remember. In an environment lightly regulated by government, voluntary associations are capable of stepping in and providing the kinds of market-driven regulation that suits the individualized needs of real people. As wrong-headed as the Rodeo Cowboys’ rationale may be, if you don’t like it, you can take your cloned bull and join another organization or establish your own.