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Master race? Baa, humbug!; Observe any flock of sheep and I defy you to pick one out specifically - unless it has a red nose and five ears.

Who are the Roslin scientists trying to kid? I ask you ... Dolly, the cloned test tube sheep. They might have waited until April 1.

And all the hysterical headlines which followed: "Fear of a Master Race" ... "The Dawning of a New Age."

I don't baaaaaalieve it.

Of all the things to come up with as an example of an internationally acclaimed genetic landmark ... a sheep.

For a start, any fool could clone a sheep. Observe any gathering of sheep and I defy you to pick one out specifically - unless it's got a red nose and five ears.

And that's the point. If they had produced something unusual, like a BSE- free, eight-legged cow, the butcher's delight - OK. But a sheep!

The point the Roslin lot seem to have forgotten is that all sheep look exactly the same anyway. You can't tell one from the other.

Not only is dear Dolly identical in every way to her "parent" - she happens to be identical in every way to all other sheep as well. Mutton dressed as mutton.

They might just as well have cloned John Major.

In fact, if the Roslin scientists had announced that they had cloned a sheep from John Major - then, yes - I might go for that.

Old Major is a dead ringer for a sheep - or a ringer for a dead sheep, whichever.

It's a good wheeze, though. Take two sheep, put them side by side and get some upstart scientists to announce to the world that they are identical.

It is, in fact, the second exciting new breakthrough - or, boring old breakdown - from Roslin in a year.

Last year they claimed to have bred the world's first genetically identical lambs, Morag and Megan. No comment.

Yes, they were identical, too. But who cares? These four legged creatures spend their entire lives standing in a field staring straight ahead of them with a sort of glaikit, half- baked expression on their faces.

What do they do all day? Nothing. What do they think about all day? Nothing. Fortunately they taste fine with mint sauce.

Sheep! They have the IQ of an aubergine and all the sparkle of a one- watt light bulb.

Do we really need more of them? A race of super sheep? Can we look forward to a Millennium spent watching lambs in a spring meadow playing the piano and speaking five languages?


I'm presuming sheep do have brains - somewhere - because people buy them to eat. If Dolly could talk, for example, she would no longer be a clone - because her mum can't talk.

"Baa, baa, I'm for the chop," she'd say.

And she would be - because nobody would be interested in her anymore. But, how anyone can go from the idea of cloning a sheep to cloning humans, I cannot understand.

By the way, just in case you didn't know - BAAS stands for the British Association for the Advancement of Science. Now there's a coincidence.

The boring fart brigade have been out en masse this week creating the usual hysteria.

Cloning humans would be monstrous and appalling. It would spawn dictators trying to replicate themselves. It could produce a master race or encourage showbiz moguls to re- create dead stars.


A human being is far too complex to clone - and genetics are only half the equation anyway.

Now, let me be the guinea pig here. I'm half-French, a quarter Irish and I was born in Edinburgh.

I would love somebody to clone me. A physical double, accompanying me everywhere. A sort of mobile clone. She would dress sensationally, of course, drive an expensive car, live for her work and wear a particularly sexy brand of ... well, Eau De Clone.

But - and this is my point - she would not share the weaknesses I picked up from my ghastly childhood (see next week's column).

My clone would be more Scottish than French. She would tell bullies where to go, never cry in public and win the Lottery every week.

In short she would be nothing like me. So she wouldn't be a clone, would she?

Or, are we just talking about physical attributes? I think we should be told. Surely creating babies in a laboratory is no worse than murdering them in a hospital?

Wasn't it this country that voted, just a few years ago, to abort babies with a disability right up until the moment of birth?

Isn't creating them in a test tube a lot less evil than that?

THE boring old farts shout: "Oh, but it's not natural." That's rich in this age of technomania. Computer buffs aren't natural either.

Dead from the neck up. It isn't natural to live one's life out flicking a series of switches.

Look at the Internet. Worldwide, more than 40 million computer nerds use Internet chat lines, talking to people they don't know, about things they don't much care about.

This is escapism masquerading as communication. It seems to be easy to make friends with people you don't have to tolerate in the flesh - but it is not natural.

So, come on, Roslin, it may not be natural but do try to produce something a bit more interesting that a sheep .

Otherwise I shall think you don't know your BAAS from your elbows.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 27, 1997
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