Cloning - a nightmare made reality by scientists sleepwalking to disaster?

Dolly, the world's first cloned sheep, developed arthritis, raising fears that the cloning process may have given her a genetic defect. The news was a setback for those who argue that cloning can become an effective -- and lucrative -- medical technology. However, it boosted the case of ethicists and animal rights campaigners who say genetic intervention is irresponsible and dangerous.

The idea of cloning provided Woody Allen with a particularly funny scene in "Sleeper" - but, it is now a horrible reality. Our Cassandra warning would be, "Beware the ideas of the Mad March scientists"

This picture explains the problem: although cloning has been embraced by companies hoping to make an enormous amount of money (their unpublicised failures suggest that they are making a killing in the most objectional and unethical way possible) there are defects in cloned animals that are the result of damaged chromosomes. Nature is not so easily violated, perhaps.

As always, the get-rich-quick brand of scientist is the first solemnly to declare the benefits to mankind of the new bio-technology. We are not only not convinced - we are deeply worried and unhappy.

The governments of Europe propose a scrapie-resistant sheep flock. Ignoring the hard-won wisdom of such independent scientists as Dr Alan Davidson, they imagine that it is a simple matter to do. After all, the thinking seems to be, we need only kill or castrate the millions of sheep with "unsuitable" genotypes.

Are our mad masters about to extend this idea to brucellosis, tuberculosis and salmonellosis "resistant" cattle?