Cloned cows, the other red meat

zOMG OMG OMG!!!!!!11!!111!! They are cloning aminals and put tehm in UR foodz!!! RUN!1!!!

..ahem… sorry.

The news agencies are all awash with reports that the FDA might approve animals for sale as food. Whoopdee.

People need to stop being so to words like clone. When that word is said the reaction is to freak out and think that there are some age accelerated mutant creatures out there that we might be eating. That isn't what this is.

This is cloning along similar lines of what Dolly the cloned sheep was. I am not 100% sure they are using the exact same method, but lets work with it that way.

Dolly was an EXACT replica (in DNA terms) of her donor sheep. So exact in fact they think it was possible that she was born 6 years old, because that is when the DNA was extracted from the donor sheep. It took her the same amount of time to reach normal size and she died of a disease that the other sheep around her also died of. She didn't suffer from some weird disease, and she wasn't treated with any weird chemicals. She was just a sheep, who happened to have the exact same traits as the sheep she was cloned from.

That is the same thing that we will see in Bulls and Cows that have been cloned. There isn't any reason to label the meat or any of that crap, because when you are eating the original there is no difference than when you are eating the clone. The DNA you are eating will be exactly the same as the original, because that is the very definition of the word CLONE.

As a matter of fact in the end it might end up being even better for you to eat cloned meat. What the farmers/companies that are doing the cloning are looking for is the perfect piece of meat, the perfect animal. What they will then do is clone it and continue to grow it over and over, providing lots of the best quality meat possible, so that more people will pay for that meat. How will that help you? Well if the cloners can find a great piece of meat that doesn't have to be injected with hormones and chemicals then they will go for that as their donor because it is cheaper. In the end we should end up eating meat that has fewer steroids and crap injected into it, which should make the free range style people happy.

Really there are only a few downsides to the cloning of these meats. The first is that it could potentially lead to a famine. As the more desired meats are cloned it would stand to reason that the less desired ones will fall out at a quick rate. If the remaining types are all susceptible to a disease then it would be possible that large portions of the livestock population could be wiped out. This is not different than the selective breeding that we do now, but it might work faster and leave a much smaller gene pool in a shorter amount of time.

The other thing is that it will slow or stop evolution in these animals. Not that we haven't already done that, but it could be the final stop point for it. In the future if all animals produced for food are clones mutations will be small or non-existant and thus evolution will be stopped. All generations will be the same as the previous.

The two above arguments are far better reasons to be cautious about a mass move to cloned food livestock than any of the imagined religous or bigoted “we don't want clones” reasons and I really wish that the news media would have taken the time to think about that instead of just playing on peoples fears of a word.

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6 Responses to Cloned cows, the other red meat

  1. maxx says:

    Well, the jury is still out on the scientific credentials of these right-wing hypocrites. I think some part of my brain just whitewashes their yammerings out because it is like groundhog day with them.

    There is another thing to be concerned about with cloned meats. You pointed to evolution in the animals and the susceptibility to disease, but there is also nature’s tendency to induce variation by any means possible. West African frogs, for example – when there aren’t enough males, the females actually mutate within their own lifespan ie they evolve male sex organs to reproduce and reintroduce variance. The AIDS retrovirus is another example of this – as the treatments changed, so did the virus. Nature has a very powerful way of keeping humans from tampering with it.

    Also, susceptibility to disease in the clones may well lead to a circumstance where all humans are eating a remarkably similar diet, which means we might well be stifling our own evolution and become more vulnerable over time to disease or climate change or any of the issues that affected previously successful species in eons past.

    Personally I think cloning organisms in their entirety is a wasted adventure. It makes more sense (and is politically and morally) much more palatable to clone organs and body parts. None of the right-to-lifers could argue that a cloned heart is *alive* and entitled to protection under the law, and it is unlikely that a cloned liver would be the target of a lawsuit from MADD. It would just become another cosmetic option like teeth whitening, lasik surgery, boob jobs and the removal of scars and that love you forever tattoo.

  2. Pauline says:

    okay, one thing I am wondering about is how the cloning process works??? I admit I do not know that much about it. Do they use any chemicals? do they use any instrumentation? how do they extract eggs or whatever they use. I think it is relevent here because any problem with instrumentation, or the wrong chemical or the wrong process could introduce errors that get into our food source. does anyone out there know enough about the process that they use? –Pauline

  3. Brent says:

    It is explained on the Dolly the sheep article I linked, but basically they remove the DNA in a fertilized egg and replace it with the DNA from the animal that they want a clone of.

    I think cloning of specific organs is a lot tougher than an entire organism. As weird as that seems, but when you let the natural process create the organs it is a lot easier than trying to build a structure. I think it has been done before for certain organs, but I don’t think it was easy.

  4. Noneofus says:

    @Pauline, see the articles at the urls below…

    A couple points, Dolly was NOT an exact clone. Her Microcondria DNA was different from the cell donor.

    “First, even though all her chromosomes came from the nucleus from the adult sheep, Dolly’s mitochondrial DNA still came from the egg donor. The mitochondria are cell organelles (defined) that help the cell process energy. (Mitochondrial DNA comes solely from the mother; since it never combines with the father’s DNA, it can be analyzed to trace the evolutionary lineages of animals.)

    Second, the immune system genes are not fully developed at the embryo stage. “The genes that encode molecules of the immune system — that make T-cells (defined) and antibodies (defined) — continue recombining (defined) after fertilization,” says Leder. Thus a clone would have a slightly different immune system than its parent.”

    You must be careful when stating EXACT, ALWAYS, EVERYTIME, etc…

    As for food sources, I think genetic manipulation would work easier than cloning. The scientists that cloned Dolly only had one successful birth out of over two hundred attemps.

    Currently, genetically manipulated crops are being grown and there are some that are making it into the food sources of the world. Countries have differening rules around the world and IMO I would rather let the other countries expreriment with their populations before I become a guiena pig.

  5. maxx says:

    I would rather let the other countries experiment with their populations before I become a guinea pig.

    Would you? In the USA, little though I like the major pharmaceutical companies lobbyists or trust the competence of the FDA, I fully realize that some process is adhered to before approving the quality of genetically modified (GM) food for human consumption. When you talk about other (poor, third world) countries having lax laws and a population of people desperate enough for food that anything is preferable to death-by-starvation, I think it is important to realize that we’re still talking about the very same corporations – who plan on selling food to the citizens of the USA, eventually.

    So yes, they do experiment with populations of other countries (one of many reasons why we’re disliked internationally that exposes our claim for being all about the international public good) – but what controls do those governments have over the effective screening for health-related issues that might arise? How many of these poorer countries are going to take in poor people who come in with a heart attack and link that to the genetically modified food they consumed? Again, look at AIDS – the Africans had it for a while before the world sat up and took notice; only because cases made it to the USA and Europe.

    My concern is that we ‘test’ GM food on the willing and desperate populations of the world, the lobbyists push the trial results through congress, no one intially makes the connection between new diseases and the genetic process, we all start consuming this food because it is cheaper, eventually some people develop complications that doctors here trace back to the GM food, class action lawsuits ensue (wasting the taxpayers money as well as the time of lawmakers) and no one is held to account for it, but we’ve taken a huge step backwards in terms of human mortality.

    In this globally connected world, I think we should be careful about what we *think* affects us vs. what *really* affects us.

  6. maxx says:

    I think cloning of specific organs is a lot tougher than an entire organism.

    Yes, it is. But the fact that it is morally and politically palatable means that it should be easier to secure funding for it. More funding means greater minds working on the problem. Besides, nothing in life that is worth it comes easy.

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