DESIGNER PETS SOON AT A STORE NEAR YOU
What is your fantasy for a pet? Beside that.
Would you like a Newfoundland dog that never grew bigger than 10
lbs? Or a cat that talked like a parrot but never made a mess. How
about a fluffy lamb that never grew larger than a rabbit, didn't
urinate or mess up the rug?
These are still dreams, but with the changes in genetic
engineering being developed at a series of laboratories around the
world it appears that something along these lines will be available
-- and sooner than you think. Yes, "No pets allowed" may soon be a
sign of the past.
Even with the basic genetic understanding given to the world by
the "father" of genetics Abbe J.G. Mendel in the late 1800s, we have
been able to produce hens with increased laying capability, better
milk cows, wheat immune to rust and grain with better food reserves.
Not to mention race horses. All this was thought impossible less than
a century ago.
Remember, biotechnology is at the very top of the totem pole in
the information business. Long after our electronic age is passed,
chemical communication will still be going strong. It's not who you
know but what you know. That's more important than mounds of capital
or exclusive access to great piles of golden ore. About 100 new U.S.
companies entered this market in the last decade. FIFTY BILLION is
the latest estimate of that market in the year 2000.
Twelve years ago the first gene splicing took place. Now people
like George Rathman, founder of a leading genetic engineering
corporation called Agmen says "Genetic engineering will have more
impact than any other technology in the history of man, maybe
including fire." Our next big spurt in the economy will come from
the developments that grow out of DNA.
Microbes have now been created that eat nothing but human hair.
Plumbers of the new age. Bacteria that eat copper oxide act as an
invisible refining plant and urinate out almost pure copper. Others
eat only oil. Many new jobs will come from this field and its
developments will affect over half of today's businesses.
Researchers are juggling genes to produce better pigs, cows, etc.
Their route is along unknown jungle paths through gene fields where
man has never walked before. The timid claim its more dangerous than
a mine field. At times like this I remember the Japanese translation
for "crisis" -- dangerous opportunity.
No current legislations this field. Anywhere. Such fields are so
new, are moving so fast, and the work is so widespread around the
world that no government agency is capable of even monitoring the
events. Expect plenty of surprises.
By selecting the characteristics desired in the "pet of the
future", gene-splitters will soon be able to manipulate those geneal
virtues to produce what is required. For example some desert animals
urinate mainly through perspiration. Even humans do that to a not
inconsiderable degree. So that would be desirable in a pet designed
for an apartment environment.
Other characteristics could be transferred or altered to eliminate
traits not appropriate for the milieu into which the new class of pet
would enter. If ravens, parrots and cockateils can talk why not tiny
So dream awhile. Your fantasy will be fulfilled. Remember your
dream about man walking on the moon?
Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee,
National Institute of Health,
Phone: (202) 496-4000
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