Starbuck 2 was cloned by a team of cattle breeders from the preserved DNA of the world's most widely-bred Holstein, Starbuck 1, who died two years ago. As he was dying, a goldmine was about to close, as his sperm was worth $400 a shot.
But for the first time, the science of cloning was targeted for a specific commercial purpose, and Starbuck 2 was the result the gold mine was reopened.
And that may be just for starters.
"If people wanted to keep Starbuck going, and producing its semen, we could do this again and again," said Dr. Lawrence Smith of the University of Montreal, one of the scientists who oversaw Starbuck's cloning.
Cloning is not exactly old hat yet, but it's the implications of the science that are becoming even more provocative. If Starbuck 1 was cloned precisely because he was the perfect specimen, does Starbuck 2 represent another step in developing a master race?
If Starbuck 2 is good for cattle breeders, how about Secretariat 2 for thoroughbred breeders? Ethicist Margaret Somerville of McGill University certainly wonders.
"I have a problem with it getting out of control," Somerville said.
Cloning is dangerously seductive, especially when it's taken to its logical conclusion, Somerville said. She said Starbuck 2 is the first step.
"So we say wow, he was such a great guy, that bull. We want another one," Somerville said. "Now what if we did that same thing with humans?"
What about Einstein 2, for those thinking the world could use another genius? And what about those we'd do better never to see again [like Adolph Hitler]?
"We are not just altering the present here, as most generations before us have done," she said. "We are designing the future."
Smith sees it like previous sciences such as the study of the atom, which gave us nuclear power, which provides millions of kilovolts of electricity, and the atom bomb, which has killed millions of people.
"It's like any other technology: you can use it for the good and for the bad," Smith said. "If someone is going to use this in a bad way, or in a way society is going to see as bad, it is out of our hands."
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