OK, so lots of people are put off by the idea of eating cloned cows or pigs, or drinking the milk of cloned cows. Some of those people have genuine ethical concerns; others are just subject to the “yuck factor.”
But what about eating the beef of the grandson of a cloned cow or pig, or maybe the milk of the great-great-granddaughter of a cloned cow? That’s what’s at issue in this story, by James Kanter, for the NYT: Cloned Livestock Gain a Foothold in Europe
…In Europe, government officials say that anyone who wanted to market meat or dairy products from clones would need to seek permission under the European Union’s “novel foods” regulations, which were generally meant to cover newly developed ingredients. So far, no one has.
Meat and dairy products from the offspring of clones, however, currently receive no prior assessment or approval….
I don’t think any of the objections to cloning animals or food makes much sense, though I’ll leave a detailed rebuttal for another day. (Here’s a start: the animal welfare concerns seem ridiculous against the backdrop of a food-production system that involves massive amounts of animal suffering. If you want to improve animal welfare, cloning is a lousy target. And as for the worry that cloning will reduce biodiversity… well, it’s at least somewhat instructive that the Wikipedia page for agricultural biodiversity contains not a single reference to cloning.)
But at any rate, any attempt to critique food-animal cloning needs to distinguish carefully between a) the ethics of cloning animals, b) the ethics of selling cloned animals for food, and c) the ethics of using cloned animals as breeding stock, because those 3 activities will likely be subject to very different worries.
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