Saturday, August 7, 2010

Livestock, Food, and Attack of the Clones

"Protests over cloned animals in food chain"
Breitbart (August 6, 2010)

"An animal welfare group on Friday delivered a petition of 7,000 names calling on the government to prevent products from cloned animals entering the food chain.

"The petition, delivered by activists wearing 'cloned' masks of Prime Minister David Cameron, was hastily organised after news emerged this week that meat from offspring of a cloned cow had entered the food chain...."

"...Referring to the use of 40 protestors in Cameron masks to make their point, he added: 'We wanted to have a tongue-in-cheek expression of what it means to take away individuality through cloning.'

"On Wednesday, it was revealed that a few unwitting members of the public in Britain had eaten meat from two bulls who were among eight cattle conceived using embryos harvested from a cloned cow in the United States...."

There's more about folks eating 'cloned' meat in an excerpt from BBC piece, near the end of this post.


Cloning, as everybody knows, is the means by which an evil Sith Lord corrupts an ancient republic and rises as ruler of a galactic empire.

Everybody who slept through parts of a few Star Wars movies, at least.

Here in central Minnesota, it's an interesting new wrinkle in agritech that may - or may not - be worth the expense and trouble that will go along with its practical application.

If I was one of the eight unwitting subjects of that experiment, I'd be concerned about a few things, including:
  • Where does my government get off, using me as in an experiment without my knowledge or consent?
  • Were the bulls healthy?
  • How would that meat cost, per pound, in the grocery?
  • How did the meat taste?
I'm a bit touchy about experiments on human subjects: for very personal reasons. I'm also (very) cautious about the idea of cloning people. I've discussed why in another blog:

But It's From a CLONED Animal!!!

I think I understand why some folks are iffy about eating meat from a cloned animal. It's something new, artificial, completely different from the nice, natural farm products we're familiar with.

Or, not so much.

With the possible exception of some specialty foods, like quail, pheasant, and partridge, what Americans, at least, buy at the grocery and eat every day is about as "natural" as a Republic clone trooper of the Star Wars movies.

Hereford cattle, macaroni wheat, and Sang Hyang Seri's DG 2 SHS are what happened when people decided that animals like the zebu (or some other ruminant), and various sorts of grass were good to eat: but could be improved. Developing artificial organisms is such an old technique that its origins predate contemporary information storage and retrieval technologies - like writing.

The United Kingdom has an Issue: But It's Not Cloning

I think that 'cloned meat' showing up in the United Kingdom's food supply is an important issue there: not because the meat came from cloned animals, but because their procedures for food imports weren't followed. Digging into the news, what we're looking at seems to be at least one political action group making use of a bureaucratic SNAFU to make their point.

I'm pretty sure that's important, in terms of the next parliamentary election in the UK, and for whichever civil servants didn't handle their paperwork correctly: but I don't see a Sith Lord in the background.

Or a serious public-health issue: beyond whatever's implied by the British bureaucracy's failure to follow procedures.

Related posts:
From this week's news:

"Meat of second cloned cow offspring 'in UK food chain' "
BBC (August 4, 2010)

"A second case of meat from the offspring of a cloned cow entering the UK's food chain has emerged.The FSA has admitted it does not know how many embryos from cloned animals have been imported into Britain.

"FSA chief Tim Smith said he had no safety concerns about the meat.

"The Food Standards Agency said it came to light as it investigated an earlier case of meat from a Highlands farm bull grown from the embryo of a cloned cow being sold to consumers...."

"...In 2008, the Food and Drug Administration in the US said meat and milk from cloned animals were safe for human consumption, and Professor Hugh Pennington, an expert on food safety from Aberdeen University, told the BBC he agreed with that assessment.

" 'People are concerned about playing God and that kind of thing... rather than producing products which are dangerous to eat, he said.

" 'There's absolutely no evidence for that, and I've got no expectation that any such evidence will ever emerge.'..."

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