Hello, Dolly

Practical hopes and ethical concerns arose around the world when Dolly made her debut. She is the lamb born in Scotland as the clone of an adult sheep, a genetic engineering process that had been thought impossible - and is still far from wide, efficient application.

The practical hopes are those of a medical/scientific/commercial community that foresees new resources in animals. Theoretically, they could become "factories" for making drugs or milk containing drugs. It is suggested that their organs could be designed for transplant to humans without the rejection common in such animal transplant efforts today.

The ethical concerns expressed so far have skirted the immediate issue of treatment of animals. Without becoming animal-rights fanatics, civilized people must establish some limits on how far to condone even supposedly pain-free interferences with animals' natural existence.

But what understandably drew more ethical attention was the remote prospect of cloning human beings. The US president rightly asked a federal bioethics advisory commission to report on Dolly's implications for human beings in 90 days.

Meanwhile, at least the British countrymen of poet William Blake must be recalling his "Songs of Innocence" of two centuries ago: "Little Lamb, who made thee?/ Dost thou know who made thee?" Blake knew who made all God's creatures. From lamblike innocence to scientific intellect, humanity's best qualities reflect divine origins. They are enduring, whatever happens in the lab.

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