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Dc: Advances in genetic engineering continue to astound. And a remarkable amount of this amazing work is happening, not in some exotic location, but quite close to home! Glance at a group of seemingly ordinary cows and without knowing it, you may be looking at a brave and perhaps troubling new world. Brick Walters reports.
(sfx: barnyard mooing)
Brick: It's morning at the Banshee-Harem farm in central Iowa, and a line of pregnant cows are grazing in the early sunshine. Though each cow is expecting, not a single one of them will have a calf. As we watch over them, Hilda Banshee tries to remember who's who...
Hilda: This one here will give birth to a Guar, a southeast Asian, Ox-like thing. Buttercup over here will bear an extinct spanish goat. Bossie is carrying a panda for the National Zoo.
Brick: A cow giving birth to a panda?
Hilda: We hope so.
Brick: That's just too weird.
Hilda: Oh, I don't know. Look at your average panda and your typical Holstein and there are a lot of similarities.
Brick: Like what?
Hilda: The colors. Black and white.
Hilda: Well I think that's pretty good.
Brick: Don't you think you're pushing the envelope here... getting very close to the line of what the public will simply not accept?
Hilda: Not at all. Once people truly understand what we're doing, I don't think they'll have any problem.
(sfx: solo cow moo, close)
Brick: What about this cow here? What's she got?
Hilda: Chessie? She's carrying a clone of Adalai Stevenson, the brainy Democratic candidate for president back in the '50s.
(sfx: cows fade out)
Brick: (vo) As an indication of the growing momentum of the genetics revolution, all the cows at the Banshee-Harem farm have been converted from milk production to surrogate mothering for extinct and near-extinct creatures. Hilda Banshee says the pay is better and the work (for her) is lighter, but Ethics Watchdog Ethel Reddy cautions against setting up such large-scale operations so quickly.
Ethel: It's not fair to the cow. It's not fair to the clone. Imagine the stigma! Suppose one day when the clone is a teenager, his father turns to him and says... "y'know, your mother is a cow." How would you feel if your father said that to you?
Brick: (int) My father DID say that when I was fourteen, and I slugged him. And it turned out he wasn't my father after all.
Ethel: I'm sorry. Obviously it's left scars.
Brick: Oh, yeah, but you shoulda see HIM. Huh. I haven't thought about that in years.
Ethel: That's what we're finding with these issues related to genetic engineering. For many people, it touches a place deep inside.
(sfx: cows up)
Brick: (vo) Meanwhile, back in Hinda Banshee's farm yard, she is looking ahead to a time that used to be called calving, but now they just call it... surprise!
Hilda: When a cow goes into labor I immediately separate it from the herd, get it in the barn with lots of warm, comfortable straw around... I turn on my tapes of the ocean surf and celtic harp... and I throw a net over the animal so that... whatever comes out... doesn't run away.
Brick: But isn't that... rather spooky?
Hilda: In an exciting sort of way. Like opening a box of Cracker Jacks. There's a prize, but you don't know what it is.
Brick: So it doesn't make you think of the film Jurassic Park?
Hilda: No, the movie it makes me think of is... Brides of Zongar, where a group of American teenagers are kidnapped from a lovers' lane by outer space creatures, and the girls are forced to carry the alien spawn. That's sort of what we're doing with the cows here.
(sfx: solo cow moo, close)
Brick: Hilda Banshee of the Banshee-Harem farm in central Iowa. And so, with each passing day... the impossible becomes possible. The unthinkable... Commonplace. And it leaves this reporter asking... what have we become? Are we still ourselves, or are the cows now playing our part, while we have become the evil aliens we feared in an old horror movie so long ago? And if they are us and we have become cheap villains, then everyone knows how the story ends, and it doesn't look good for us, no matter how smug we feel at the moment. Out in the field, I'm Brick Walters.