Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Three Million Dollar Dog

This beagle glows--literally. Her creation was announced on July 27, 2011 by scientists at Seoul National University in Korea.

Born? manufactured? created? in 2009,  Togon isn't the first glowing dog, but she is the first whose glow can be controlled. She turns green when doxycycline, an antibiotic, is mixed into her food.

Scientists claim that, " A glowing dog will enable scientists to conduct valuable biomedical research. They will be able to inject the dog with human illnesses and track the illness as it progresses in the body and study the effects with a view to finding a cure."

This bothers me on enough levels that I can't even quite decide what it is that bothers me.

Partly, I guess, it's the moral ambiguity. I don't like to think about dogs (or any other animals) being injected with horrible illnesses.

A year or so ago, I read Level 4 Virus Hunters of the CDC, by Joseph B. McCormick and Susan Fisher Hoch.
A riveting book, but the diseases they worked on--Lassa Fever, Marburg, Ebola--were so horrifying that I could hardly bear to read the descriptions. Susan Hoch studied them in monkeys, and eventually quit the research because of the feelings she had come to have for the monkeys. I find it painful even to imagine deliberately inflicting that kind of suffering on dogs.

And then there's the weirdness of something so unfamiliar as a fluorescent dog. That will wear off, I suppose, as the technology becomes cheaper. GM fish are already cheap enough to be popular.
multi-colored glofish
I suppose it's only a matter of time before we'll see one of these at the dog park: