The AQHA disagrees, arguing that cloning could narrow the gene pool, resulting in the worsening of genetic diseases or the creation of new ones. Villanova University’s Angela DiBenedetto, an associate professor of biology and an expert on genetics and cloning, sides with the association.
“The process is very inefficient, with very low live-birth success rates, and of the successes, a high incidence of later developmental abnormalities, higher risks for some diseases and malformations, and abnormal gene expression patterns throughout life,” she told FoxNews.com. “We don’t know why that is.”
Independent companies like ViaGen nevertheless are already cloning horses, such as Royal Blue Boon, a producer of cutting horses owned by Elaine Hall of Weatherford, Texas. She had the horse cloned seven years ago.
“I simply could not imagine not being able to continue to breed this fine animal and improve the genetics of future generations of cutting horses,” Hall said. “If you don’t stay up with the latest technology, you are going to be left in the dust.”
But will the science ever advance to the point that Seabiscuit 2, 3 and 4 are lined up beside a row of Secretariats? The experts agree genetic copies wouldn’t necessarily be winners. There’s no gene for winning, after all.
“Think of identical human twins you may know,” DiBenedetto said. “They are alike in many ways, but not the same person.”
Laura Hillenbrand, author of the beloved book “Seabiscuit: An American Legend” and The New York Times best-seller “Unbroken,” told FoxNews.com there’s another reason to be careful.
“If we could simply clone the best, and we stopped breeding horses, a great deal of the joy of the sport would be lost,” Hillenbrand told FoxNews.com. “We wouldn't see the wonders of genetics at work, and would no longer have the challenge of pairing one horse with another in hopes of creating an animal who bears the strengths of each.”
“So much of what made Secretariat so stunning was that he was a freak of nature, one in a billion, an alignment of genes so superb as to be the closest thing to perfection we are likely to ever see. What fun would there be in a crowd of Secretariats, if he were merely commonplace?”
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