Well here’s some news: The FDA has announced that milk and meat from cloned animals may be in our food supply. Keyword here is may: “it would be impossible to know because there is no difference between cloned and conventional products.”
We imagine there are two reactions possible to this news. Consider this a choose-your-own-adventure news story. If you are horrified and disgusted, click here. If you are all “eh, whatever,” click here.
You’re horrified and disgusted! Clones are an abomination and make your uncanny valley response flare up. To which we say: relax. Back in January, the FDA okayed meat and milk from cloned animals and their offspring, declaring them as safe to eat as anything from traditional animals. (Where “traditional” means, presumably, born via two other animals doin’ it.) The fierce debate surrounding the cloning of farm animals centers not on the safety of the products, but rather on the general ethics of the practice of cloning itself. And your concern over potentially consuming some of this unidentifiable cloned-source animal product can be mollified by its apparent scarcity (if, of course, it exists at all): there are only about 600 cloned animals in the U.S. right now, including cows, sheep, and goats. Compare that to the staggering 96.7 million heads of cattle in the country, and even all 600 cloned animals are a vanishingly small percentage of the total livestock count.
You can also be reassured by the list of companies that have vowed never to use cloned animal products. Included among them are Kraft Foods, Campbells Soup, Nestle, California Pizza Kitchen, and General Mills (you’ll find no horrible cloned sheep in your bowl of Wheaties, thank god). Of course, not all of them are avoiding the cloned goodness (er, horribleness?) because they agree that it is ethically problematic:
In a letter to the Center for Food Safety, Susan Davison, director of corporate affairs with Kraft, said product safety was “not the only factor” the company considers.
“We must also carefully consider additional factors such as consumer benefits and acceptance … and research in the U.S. indicates that consumers are currently not receptive to ingredients from cloned animals,” she said.
So basically, as long as you and your anti-cloning brethren are in the majority, you can purchase Kraft products in peace. Keep up the good fight. And click here.
You are pretty unconcerned. After all, identical twins are clones too. Hey! We agree! We find completely hilarious all those quotes from the FDA reassuring the consuming public that cloned meat is identical to noncloned meat. Because, um, isn’t that the point of cloning? We wouldn’t have nearly so many pop-cultural clone-related hijinx if clones were notably different from their originators. To be perfectly honest, we think that cloning technology brings us one step closer to that whole lab-grown meat idea that, while undeniably super-creepy, would help us feel a little less guilty about being a shameless carnivore. Whether you agree with that or not, though, you should click here.
The end. You have completed your cloned-food mission, and all the schoolchildren have been safely returned to their parents. You might not have fallen in love or completed your attempt to climb the mysterious Witch Tower, but at least you learned a valuable lesson about friendship. And did not get eaten by a grue.
[Photo: A potentially-cloned cow (how can we tell?!) contemplates its existence while staring into the ocean, via pierluigi-ricci’s Flickr]