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Nuclear Transfer: Standards
Cloning, artificial insemination, transgenic science and in vitro fertilization are all new biotechnologies which have appeared relatively recently in the field of assisted reproduction. All are being developed for use with domestic animals such as cattle, as well as for use with endangered species. While these technologies seemed far-fetched and generated much public discussion when first introduced, they are routine today and are viewed as part of the reproductive "toolkit." When applied in conjunction with traditional conservation tools such as preservation of habitat and animal population management in captivity and in the wild, these new biotechnologies can play a pivotal role in the battle against extinction.
Scientists at Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species, the research component of Audubon Nature Institute of New Orleans, Louisiana, are working with these technologies to help endangered species. In doing so, Audubon Nature Institute scientists and staff are bound to observe the most humane standards when working with the animals in their care.
No scientific studies, including cloning, involve the use of humans. In any cloning research undertaken, there is no intention whatsoever that any of the results will be applicable to the advancement of human cloning nor is there any intention by Audubon scientists that their cloning research with endangered species is only an interim goal to advancing the science for human cloning. All Audubon studies involving cloning must have direct application to the reproduction of endangered species. Further research and development of this technology will be conducted on the basis of sound scientific principles and with the ethical care and use of all animals involved, and focus on the development of techniques that have obvious long-term application.
On all research projects at Audubon Nature Institute, bioethics governs the treatment of all animals who are involved in the development of relevant technology to help endangered species reproduce. It is significant that science at Audubon's Research Center is making great strides toward the development and use of current technologies that will apply directly to endangered species and therefore require that the following standards be held:
- In accordance with Federal law, no animals will be intentionally harmed at any point during research projects. In addition, no animals will be endangered through lack of attention or care or by being subjected to risky procedures of any type.
- Also, in accordance with laws mandated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, all "hands-on" animal research procedures, including cloning and transgenic science, will be reviewed and approved or denied by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). This committee currently reviews all research protocols that are required of the investigators for submission on a pre-project basis.
- Animals, either domestic, companion or exotic, will only be acquired from certified U.S. Department of Agriculture facilities, from zoos and aquariums to laboratory supply facilities to universities that are approved by USDA. Regardless of the source through which the animals are acquired for use as egg, tissue, or sperm donors or surrogate mothers, at the completion of their roles in the research, they will be placed in loving homes, sent to other zoos or aquariums or returned to the university of their origin. None of these animals will be euthanized as a result of their role in the research projects.
- No data, personnel or other resources shall be knowingly shared with people or programs seeking to clone humans.
- Every effort shall be taken to ensure that the technology and procedures developed for endangered species at Audubon Nature Institute will be applied in the future in an ethical and socially positive manner.
- Every effort will be taken to minimize the waste of viable embryos, which will only be destroyed if implantation is impossible or if the embryos are flawed and likely to result in deformities.
- The collection and storage of material suitable for use in future technology development, including cloning programs and assisted reproduction projects, is strongly encouraged.
- Transgenic work shall be conducted only after a thorough review by Audubon's Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) where consideration will be given to the potential benefits vs. the potential risks of the project.