Sunday, January 20, 2008

Do You Have a Fear Of Clones?

One of the news items that seems to have generated the most buzz on the bioethics blogs is this week's decision by the FDA to allow the sale of meat from cloned animals -- we've posted on it, has, the Business Ethics Blog has, and Art Caplan has written a column on it. And now, an Rick Weiss of the Washington Post reports that consumer groups are pressing for labeling, but the concern is that the labels may not be able to be verified. Additionally, the article reports, consumer groups are wondering "how the FDA will live up to its promise to keep an eye on the quickly evolving field of animal cloning and protect the public from unexpected problems."

It seems to me that Art says it all when he says "Don't ask, don't tell is bad policy for cloned food" (or any food, I might add) and that consumers will have the last word.


Kelly Hills said...

I just think I should get a cookie for resisting - with every fiber of my being - the urge to make bad Weird Al "I think I'm a clone now" jokes based on the maxim "you are what you eat".

But Linda, you're right - Don't Ask, Don't Tell is a bad policy for all food, not just cloned food. Americans have become disturbingly cut off from knowledge of food, of what and how we eat, and it's reflected in everything from how our grocery stores are laid out to our waistlines.

Unfortunately, I'm not so convinced consumers are going to have the last word, simply because there is a very large section of the consumer market that is not focused on what we eat, but the dollar value of calories. And for that, the rule is the highest calorie count for the cheapest amount (and then factor in time to prepare). I think a good example of this in practice is the failure of organic food to really take off at WalMart; the demand at WalMart is not for high quality food, but cheap food.

And as long as people are having to vote in that particular manner with their money, the last word that's going to be had is not one that impacts labeling, but one that impacts cost.

MLO said...

I can't help but think of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy as nothing more than corporate welfare. Sorry, it does not hold water in an argument for free markets.

On a more base level, is this really a good idea? I mean, really, we are seeing an increase in sickly animals due to breeding for singular characteristics within lines (usually same family lines) and these weaknesses are very likely to become even more pronounced if you never have anything else shaking up the DNA.

Now, I am not against cloning, but stupid is stupid. If I keep breeding/cloning stock that has the same weaknesses without adding any kind of diversity, is this not a threat to the food supply's safety?

So much for common sense.