General Question

shrubbery's avatar

How do you feel about cloning and cloned meat?

Asked by shrubbery (10311points) June 21st, 2008

Some say “that food from cloned animals is unwanted, unnecessary, possibly dangerous and a catastrophe for animal welfare” and some say “it is beyond our imagination to even find a theory that would cause the food [derived from clones] to be unsafe”.

For livestock breeders it would mean unlimited copies of their prize animals; offspring with top quality meat or milk, exact copies with the same reproductive capability, instead of just one who has a limited reproductive lifetime and there’s no guarantee that any of its offspring will inherit its qualities.

There a many advantages for consumers, including reduced cholesterol in meat and milk, plus higher levels of good fatty acids and antioxidants.

Cloning would allow relatively easy reproduction of cattle genetically engineered to lack the prion protein that makes them susceptible to mad cow disease and make it possible to replicat animals engineered to resist illness or with a small ecological footprint.

However, there are always two sides. One of the issues raised is that of food safety. Some claime that the studies that exist have been done only by the livestock companies themselves, who have a vested interest in a positive outcome. Some research says the composition of meat from cloned and normal cows were mostly the same, though there were slight differences, but these were within the normal range for human consumption.

Studies have shown that consumers want cloned foods to be labelled, but they would be unlikely to buy food derived from cloned animals in the first place.

But this doesn’t address the issue of greater incidence of serious health problems afflicting cloned animals and their surrogate mothers. “We believe the cloning process has the potential to cause unnecessary pain, suffering and distress,” says Nikki Osborne, a developmental biologist with Eurogroup for Animals.

Considering the current level of suffering and health problems of surrogate dams and animal clones, the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies has doubts as to whether cloning animals for food supply is ethically justified.

Everyone in the debate freely admits that health issues are more common in clones and their surrogate mothers than in animals that aren’t cloned.

One of the main problems among cloned cows and sheep is “large offspring syndrome”, a potentially fatal condition characterised by malformed limbs, livers, brains, urinary and genital tracts, and dysfunctional immune systems. The problem is thought to be caused by complications in resetting the genetic instructions during the cloning process. Large offspring syndrome is also a problem for surrogate mothers. Cows and ewes carrying cloned offspring are known to have significantly more late miscarriages and difficult births due to large offspring.

Clones health problems are of concern but once the clones mature, they are as health as non-clones. Conventionally produced offspring suffer from the same problems as cloens, albeit at a lower rate.

This was summarised from a New Scientist article, I’m sorry I don’t have any links but I only have a printed out copy.

So what do you think about cloning? Are you for or against it? Why or why not? Do you think we will be consuming cloned goods in the future whether you want it to happen or not?

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38 Answers

Randy's avatar

Im ok with it. More product hopefully will mean a lower price meaning less money outta my pocket for meats. As far as the animals problems go, it’s not like we are giving them their first set of problems by cloning them. Know what I mean?

ebenezer's avatar

I had a steak about a year ago that I would love to have again. It was special. Go biotechnology!

Upward's avatar

Mess with fire long enough and you will get burned. There are bond to be side effects that will show up over time. What happens if someone clones a clone? What effect will all this have on our great- grandchildren?

Zaku's avatar

Also, what affect will it have on “obsolete” genes?

The Genetic Manipulation industry has already brought such brilliant evils as breeding seed that can’t be replanted, to sell to struggling farmers to bilk them out of their traditional grains, claiming “intellectual property rights” to DNA, including natural species.

I’d say that’s a pattern of behavior that’s asking for extinction. In more ways than one…

playthebanjo's avatar

I would prefer to be able to eat organic, uncloned, totally natural stuff. It’s too bad this type of diet costs so much In comparison. For the same reason I don’t drink vitamin enriched water I would not want to eat cloned meat…I just don’t trust science to get it right.

scamp's avatar

I don’t like the idea. We eat too much “fake’ stuff as it is.

beast's avatar

“Tastes like chicken.”

shawnlxc's avatar

I believe that it raises many concerns more on the side of “playing god”, but I think if we are to advance our civilization any further we have to accept that genetic modification and cloning is part of our future to survival. It’s getting more and more expensive for farmers and those down the line once the meat is processed to prevent disease and other things, so a resistant animal would provide protection to that and hopefully without chemicals. We could also create the prized animal over and over again, which would prevent hiking prices on food.

All in all a good thing, in my opinion.

nikipedia's avatar

Cloning in its current incarnation carries too much risk and too many problems. I am less concerned with the problems we do know about than the problems we can’t foresee.

That said, I think the solution to this (like most problems) is more research. When we can consistently and safely clone offspring and we have a good idea of the risks we’re taking, I’ll be all for it.

So my problem with cloning is strictly practical. I have no ethical qualms with it whatsoever. I would be interested to hear a defense of why cloning might be ethically questionable (again, separating the ethical from the practical).

tinyfaery's avatar

I agree with all the reasons listed here. I don’t eat meat, not because I am a crazy vegan who thinks humans are herbivores, but because the meat industry is cruel to animals and deadly for the environment. Instead of raising another “born to be food” class, we should focus on overhauling our current meat practices. We need a system that is not only kinder to animals, and safer for the environment, but that is healthier for human consumption. Cloning will do none of these things. I’m not against cloning altogether; I think responsible cloning, which takes into account as many perceivable effects as possible, could actually do quite a lot. Think of the polar bears.

Trance24's avatar

I’m not really all for cloning, it just seems wrong to me. Its playing with Nature. And you know you don’t want to piss Nature off. Also I am a vegetarian so I wouldn’t want cloned meat in the first place. (And if for some reason you were to ask if I would eat cloned vegetables the answer would be the same.) =]

marinelife's avatar

I think our track record of introducing stuff into our food supply is not that great.

Agricultural factory farmers use antibiotics now in our beef which are big contributors to producing super strains of bacteria we can’t fight. They do it so fewer cows die, and they make more money.

Archer Daniels Midland (who are truly evil in my book in case you are following this thread, reed) have managed to sell the food industry into adding corn syrup into much of what we consume and replace other, healthier forms of sugar with corn syrup contributing mightily to the twin epidemics of type II diabetes and obesity.

So my confidence level that there is enough research and enough testing to know that cloned meat animals are ready to market is not that high. I would not be opposed to continued independent research in controlled studies that last several years at a minimum. It really needs to be done for many generations (animal generations).

Beyond that, adding an additional level of suffering and cruelty to our food production does not say much for us as a supposedly superior species.

All of that in mind, I won’t buy it. I also strongly believe they have no right to market it without me knowing it has been altered from natural beef (or lamb or whatever).

Knotmyday's avatar

Logically, cloning from one genetically healthy ancestor would produce similarly healthy offspring, and reduce the risk of inheriting congenital problems from a seperate bloodline.
On the other hand, cloning within the strain is a process a bit too disturbingly similar to inbreeding for my taste.
So, my feelings are mixed.
Eventually the entire controversy may boil down to “is the produce cheaper” and “how does it taste.”
I am completely against human cloning, though; to me it is one whisker away from a scary “slave farming” scenario.

skfinkel's avatar

No cloning thank you. Just real, honest, unadulterated food, grown organically and with as little interference as possible.

ninjaxmarc's avatar

Not for eating but saving endangered animals I’m all for it.

Knotmyday's avatar

“Separate.” Apologies.

bluemukaki's avatar

There is no evidence of any issue with GM foods and cloning as far as health is concerned (apart from getting fat off that huge steak), so my only issue with cloning is an ethical one. I don’t think cloning and designer genetics should become commonplace simple because it encourages people to manipulate genetic material before the being they are ‘editing’ is capable of choosing i.e. pre-conception.

I can’t stand people who seem to think that genetic manipulation and cloning will have effects, this kind of thing is merely biology and cel division occurs all the time as a means for reproduction in lesser beings, so why do people seem to think that GM/Cloned foods will be dangerous? They are all normal as far as biological evidence can show us, why would our grandchildren be affected?

This kind of ignorance is the reason hundreds of thousands of people will die of starvation in the next decade, because science offers them food and the so called ‘green’ movement decided that they didn’t like what they didn’t understand. Governments opposed GM foods and will oppose cloning because organizations like Greenpeace lie and manipulate to suit their needs, they do the same thing when they attack companies like Apple, Nintendo and Dove, even when there are more worthy targets, they choose the most susceptable and then claim they have acheived something. That being said, I fully support their anti-whaling and fishing campaigns. You only don’t like what you don’t understand, or what you understand too well.

bluemukaki's avatar

too late to edit! I meant our health, not the health of the cloned thing.

shrubbery's avatar

I found the link to the article guys, just in case you wanted it. Thanks for all the great responses.

shrubbery's avatar


“Agricultural factory farmers use antibiotics now in our beef which are big contributors to producing super strains of bacteria we can’t fight. They do it so fewer cows die, and they make more money.”

So wouldn’t be a good thing to clone animals resistant to the disease that requires these antibiotics, so that fewer cows die without the antibiotics in our meat producing the super strains of bacteria?

amandaafoote's avatar

Cloned meat? Gross.

scamp's avatar

@shrubbery , Your link says session unavailable. I don’t know if it’s just me, or if the link isn’t working.

shrubbery's avatar

Yeah, sorry about that, you have to have log in info, I didn’t realise it would time out like that. I’ll see what I can do about getting it up somewhere permanently… I dunno if that breaches copyright or something though

Hobbes's avatar

I think it’s a wonderful idea. If it became widespread (something that would depend on people getting over their biases), it could eliminate the unsafe and unsanitary practices of the meat market, free land up for growing produce rather than cattle feed, go a long way towards reducing CO2 levels, and as shrubbery said, reduce the overuse of antibiotics.

@amandaafoorte – the problem is that many people have this gut reaction to cloning and GM, where they hear the words an automatically associate them with something bad. It’s that kind of reaction that limits potentially beneficial technology like this.

galileogirl's avatar

We have been scientifically engineering meat for decades. Commercial meat is all the product of artificial insemination. Most people in the US have never had a steak or chop whose parents even met each other. And they need a limited number of Pops so most males never become adults, instead they become veal roasts. Nature’s way is too unpredictable and dangerous to the female.

webmasterwilliam's avatar

It’s great being at the top of the food chain. Therefore, we should be able to do anything with that chain that we want :-)

If whatever God or supreme being(s) you believe in didn’t want us to alter our food, (s)he wouldn’t have made us so smart. We control so much of our environment now. If we didn’t, we’d still be living in caves and the world population would be about 10,000.

galileogirl's avatar

What seems to freak people out is cross-species engineering like taking the DNA from fish who live in the Arctic and adding it to strawberries so crops don’t get destroyed by late frosts.

Hobbes's avatar

As I said in another, similar thread, there seems to be a fallacy at the bottom of a lot of people’s thinking concerning issues like this.

From Wikipedia:

Appeal to nature is a commonly seen fallacy of relevance consisting of a claim that something is good or right because it is natural, or that something is bad or wrong because it is unnatural. In this type of fallacy nature is often implied as an ideal or desired state of being, a state of how things were, should be, or are: in this sense an appeal to nature may resemble an appeal to tradition.”

shrubbery's avatar

Ok Hobbes, so you’ve told us what it is but can you now tell us why it is wrong to believe that?

Hobbes's avatar

Because what is natural is not necessarily good. Horrible genetic diseases, mass extinctions, floods, famines, violent deaths, and plagues are all perfectly natural things, but none of them are good. I think people get this idea into their heads that nature has a plan for us, an order which we are disrupting by meddling in its perfect balance. But when you pull the camera back and actually look at the history of the planet, nature comes into focus as a blind, impersonal, amoral force. Nature is not wicked or bad, it is not our enemy, but neither is it our friend – it has no sort of plan or intention for us, nor any concern for what is good or bad. As such, trying to claim that something is good because it is natural, or bad because it is unnatural is flawed logic. Questions of good and bad are human ideas, and nature is not human, nor does it have a mind – it is amoral.

shrubbery's avatar

Ok, thanks for that :)

winblowzxp's avatar

I think that in a few generations we’d run into the copy machine effect. If you keep making copies of copies, then the copy isn’t worth a shit.

Hobbes's avatar

@winblow – Just FYI, A clone isn’t a copy of the original any more than one twin is a copy of the other.

winblowzxp's avatar

That’s what the basis of cloning is…it’s to make a genetically identical organism. Identical twins aren’t clones of each other, they are separate organisms which came from the same egg. Clones are created by taking the nucleus of a donor cell, and transplanting it into an egg, and once it starts to divide, it gets implanted into a surrogate mother.

Hobbes's avatar

Ahhh… I see. Thanks, winblow. Still, though, wouldn’t they grow up to be genetically identical, not imperfect copies (or at least no more imperfect than any DNA copy is).

winblowzxp's avatar

Right…that’s what I meant with my original comment. It could lead to severe problems down the road.

galileogirl's avatar

Of course everyone understands for many years most beef and dairy cows have been genetically engineered by using artificial insemination and very few sperm donors. So the sire might also be the grandsire back 6 or 8 generations. and the sibling might also sire the descendanes through the next 6 or 8 generations-talk about copying genes!

sundayBastard's avatar

I’m a vegan…so I don’t give a shiza!

They can clone my meat! LOL

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