“One doesn’t expect Dr Frankenstein to show up in a wool sweater,” wrote political commentator Charles Krauthammer, ominously, in the March 1997 issue of Time magazine. He was referring to British scientist Dr Ian Wilmut, who eight months earlier had successfully created Dolly, the world’s most famous sheep, by cloning her from another adult sheep’s cell.
Krauthammer’s criticism was unsparing. “This was not supposed to happen,” he insisted. Dolly was “a cataclysmic” creature. But PPL Therapeutics, the company responsible for funding the science behind Dolly, was undeterred, and four years later produced five cloned female pigs. Again, the news provoked outrage. Lisa Lange, a spokeswoman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, echoed Krauthammer when she dismissed justifications of cloning: “There’s always a reason given to validate these Frankenstein-like experiments.”
Invoking Mary Shelley’s myth of Frankenstein is standard fare in arguments over controversial science.… Read the rest