Cloned Bull:

Slate's William Saletan defends cloned food. It's a good article, that briefly summarizes and refutes the conventional arguments against meat and milk products from cloned animals.

Messing with nature at this level is never simple. It requires ongoing debate, monitoring, and regulation. But we're not even getting that debate. Instead, opponents are relying, as they have in the human cloning debate, on the sheer fact that cloning freaks people out. To reinforce this revulsion and intimidate regulators, politicians, and food producers, they constantly emphasize surveys showing that Americans are uncomfortable with cloned food, think it's unsafe, and won't buy it. As though polls settled the matter. As though the FDA should put science before politics, but only when it suits liberals.

Yes, we're scared of cloned food. But according to the same polls, most of us have heard little about animal biotechnology, don't know biotech food is already in supermarkets, and, against all reason, are more afraid of cloning animals than of genetically engineering them. Don't be cowed. Question your fears. That's the difference between us and the animals.

Elliot123 (mail):
We have been eating bio-engineered crops for years. So have the animals we eat.
1.8.2007 11:28pm
Kovarsky (mail):
someone just cloned the ohio state buckeyes.
1.8.2007 11:57pm
logicnazi (mail) (www):
I agree with most of the sentiments in the quote but it's a shame that the effectiveness of this argument is undermined by turning it into a simplistic partisan point.

Yes, liberals in the US are generally the ones who oppose GM food but so what? I agree it is useful to point out the hypocrisy of insisting we follow the science rather than our gut in the case of global warming but not with GM food. However, what good does it do to make this into a barb in some liberal/conservative battle? This sort of remark discourages liberals from taking the argument seriously and serves only to make conservatives feel smug.
1.8.2007 11:58pm
Tom Holsinger (mail):
My favorite way to deal with these superstitions is to exploit them for fun and profit. They're already self-selected for ignorance and gullibility.
1.9.2007 1:05am
Kovarsky (mail):
i want them to clone me. i don't understand why everyone is so scared.

"hey lee. you goin' out tonight?"

"nah fellas, my doppleganger's gonna handle it."
1.9.2007 1:17am
Scote (mail):
...and yet the question in the long term isn't about the safety of eating the cloned animals or plants but the danger of monoculture to our overall food supply.

Industrial agriculture based on genetically identical herds and crops is a recipe for instant famine. Clones will lack the genetic diversity to respond to pests and blights with any varibility. Although selective breeding exposes agribusiness to many of these risks already, cloning is a much bigger risk. It could make the potato famine look like, well, small potatoes.
1.9.2007 2:06am
If all the cows die, the grain merchants will sell to the bakers, and we'll all subsist on bread and tortillas. Instead of famine, we may be able to support even more people.
1.9.2007 3:13am
ReVonna LaSchatze:

Grow yer own!
1.9.2007 4:50am
Al Maviva (mail) (www):
Hell of a country, America... The people who are most vociferous in favor of cloning humans and using the results as a scientific asset, are also against cloning animals to feed people on the grounds it is unnatural and dangerous to tamper with nature. Wierd.
1.9.2007 7:47am
AppSocRes (mail):
I'm hardly a Luddite: I was trained as a physicist and mathematician; I keep current on science and technology; I favor irradiation of food, genetic engineering of crops and animals, and think global warming is a crock. However, the last I heard, cloning animals still mostly produces animals with many subtle and not so subtle defects that usually lead to the early demise of most clones. I'm not yet willing to take the chance that our techniques of biochemical analysis are subtle enough to detect all the anomalies in the fats, proteins, and other products in the flesh and secretions of these cloned animals. However, as long as products are clearly labeled I'm more than happy to let other humans experiment with ingesting cloned meat, milk, and eggs.
1.9.2007 8:27am
A cloned animal is nothing more than an artificial twin. If a cow gives birth to natural twins, no one would mind eating the meat.

While monoculture is a risky thing, in an era where I need to treat my grocery-bought chicken meat like it has the plague leads me to question how fragile our methods already are. I like the body mass I gain by eating lots of "high-quality" protien, but I'm more than capable of living a good life without it (as many vegetarians will attest to.)

Bring on the clones.
1.9.2007 8:48am

If all the cows die, the grain merchants will sell to the bakers, and we'll all subsist on bread and tortillas. Instead of famine, we may be able to support even more people.

Soylent Green, anyone?
1.9.2007 10:07am
Fran (mail) (www):
It's funny how one of the underlying defintions of conservative can be changed.

A conservative, by definition, tends to be against change.

Cloned animals and/or GM foods are a huge, unknown.

Think Pandora.
1.9.2007 12:35pm
Jeff Shultz (mail):
What advantages are there to cloning when "letting nature take it's course" is so much cheaper?
1.9.2007 12:49pm
If all the cows die, the grain merchants will sell to the bakers, and we'll all subsist on bread and tortillas. Instead of famine, we may be able to support even more people.
Classic vegan propaganda, that eating animals who eat plants is less "efficient" than eating the plants directly, and so the earth could support more vegans than omnivores.

Except that cows, pigs, chickens, etc., eat all sorts of plants that humans cannot -- in other words, eating hamburgers is a way for humans to "eat" grass. The vegan propaganda is basically just lies. It's nice for them that they can be vegans and all, but if everybody (as in all 6 billion of us) wants to be vegans, we're going to have to liquidate a few billion people in order to make it work...
1.9.2007 3:38pm

Except that cows, pigs, chickens, etc., eat all sorts of plants that humans cannot[...]

While it is true that cows can eat grass, it is not necessarily true that most/many of the cows we currently eat actually do. Modern ranching has large herds of animals, chickens and pigs especially, that never see the outdoors. Dairy ranches, like the one I'm familiar with in Norco, California, has a herd so huge in an area so small that there is only a dark, muddy substance under their hooves (and nevermind the smell--just roll up your windows as you pass by.)

Since these animals are raised in areas devoid of "natural" food, they must be fed human-produced food like Purina Pig Chow. A farmer that grows hay, alphalpha, or corn in his fields to sell to ranchers as feed could just as easily grow human-edible foods.

Worse still, eating hamburger is a way for humans to "eat" other dead and diseased animals ground into meal and fed to the cattle on the ranches. Mad Cow disease, anyone? If only it was just grass.

That said, pass the steak, medium-rare, thanks.
1.9.2007 4:16pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"If all the cows die, the grain merchants will sell to the bakers, and we'll all subsist on bread and tortillas"

JB, I don't think this will go over well with whit, a steak eater he is.

I know whit and I were debating BGH in cows, meat v. milk, on the other thread below. Cloning is another issue. My concern is with ensuring the defects are out of the clone, e.g., numerous embryos die before you get the one viable clone, there is some danger the clone will develop debilitating disease, or die young. Obviously, the technology is not yet foolproof, and I would just want to make sure any clone I ate did not have any such latent defects.

Otherwise, I know from the more recent clones of horses (not to eat), some of the clones are turning out nicely. I saw a cloned foal recently of a 20-somthing year old former champion Quarter Horse, very attractive foal. Pretty much looked like the aged horse. Another advantage was teh aged QH was a gendling, and the foal was goign to be kept a stallion for breeding more of this particular championship line.

But, I do have another question for whit, I am wondering, whit, do you eat grass fed beef or just get your steaks at places where the beef is likely to have the BGH?

I saw an article about grass-fed beef, on a search for how human diets have changed since Neanderthals and their human neighbors of that era ate the wild grass-fed beef, which is thought to be much healther:

"Grass-fed beef is one-third to three times leaner than grain-fed beef, and as a consequence has fewer calories, too — a 6-ounce beef loin from a grass-fed cow can have 92 fewer calories than a 6-ounce loin from a grain-fed cow.

Grass-fed beef also provides two to four times more essential omega-3 fatty acids than feedlot beef. These omega-3s help protect humans from cancer, depression, obesity, diabetes, arthritis, allergies, dementia, high-blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, heart attack and stroke. Also in grass-fed products, omega-3s and omega-6 fatty acids are in balance, which provides critical protection from heart attacks and strokes.

Researchers have found grass-fed beef contains two newly discovered "good" fats: conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and trans-vaccenic acid (TVA). (Our bodies turn TVA into CLA.)
CLA shows great promise in lab animal studies of helping fight cancers and cardiovascular disease. When cattle are raised exclusively on grass, their meat and dairy products offer two to five times more CLA than cattle raised on large amounts of grain.

Grass-fed beef also provides more beta carotene, vitamin E and folic acid, important antioxidants that protect us from free radicals, boost our immunity and may lower our risk of heart disease."

Smith, Better Beef

I hate to do this to you whit, but as compared to PETA's Alec Baldwin, Meet Your Meat video of the GH/feedlot/grain-fed meat most of us are eating:


See, whit, I am wondering if I were to have access to grass-fed beef, would this make a difference in the difficulty I have (stomach aches, etc.) in eating meat? Like I said, I am open to trying anything that will alleviate the symptoms of my autism.

I do know, with horses, there is a big difference between raising young horses that are allowed ample fields to run v. feedlot kept horses. Most horses devlop balance and muscle strength from running in big fields since they are foals.

But we got one horse in California, a 2 yr. old, that was raised in a 12 x 12 feedlot since birth, and he looked almost lame like a pelvic-hip injury when we took him home from the feedlot, until we started working him on lunge-line circles at the canter everyday for increasing workout times, and he started to develop the muscle strength and balance he never could learn in the feedlot, after which he became a nice sound-looking horse we were able to sell to a good riding home.

Unless one is eating beef with JR at Southfork or the President at the Crawford ranch, most of us have no way of knowing where the beef we are eating came from.

What says the whit?
1.10.2007 9:40am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
1.10.2007 9:43am
Chimaxx (mail):
The food industry doesn't want to do the work of convincing/educating/marketing to the public that cloned food is a good thing. And it could. Instead it just has the FDA wave its hands and say "it doesn't matter."

Frankly, I'm looking forward tot he day when meat is culture-grown from cloned cells--no actual animals involved. What will vegetarians have to say when meat--real meat--is available for which no creature had to die. And the potential for allowing us to enjoy the flavors of meats from animals to rare or too small or too labor-intensive to be farmed now is immense.
1.10.2007 7:26pm