Cloned cows, goats, pigs. Would you want to eat meat or milk from them? Most people have said no in polls, but a big step towards getting those products on the market came this week when the FDA reported they consider clones safe to eat.
Two notable items in this Washington Post story are 1) the FDA is proposing to create a publicly accessible database in which all research findings will be immediately published as investigation continues (some cloning companies don’t like this idea much–which is a bit scary), and 2) cloning isn’t a totally weird and unnatural a process. It’s described this way:
“To make a clone, scientists take a single skin cell from an animal [presumably a cow in this case] they want to replicate. They fuse it with a cow egg that has had its DNA removed, resulting in the creation of an embryo that can be transferred to the womb of a surrogate mother animal. The resulting newborn is a twin of the animal that donated the initial cell.”
So the clone is created from living tissue and grows inside a regular, live mom–not nearly as freaky as, in my ignorance, I thought the method was.
More-than-average problems with miscarriages, birth defects, and other problems happen, just as they do with in vitro fertilization and artificial insemination. The FDA says it can’t find any significant differences in molecular composition in the cloned animals. Okay, then the question that must be addressed is do these animals seem to experience life in the same way that ordinary members of their species do? That’s a tough question to answer, but it’s a critical one because we all know that once humans can do something successfully with animals, messing with the same thing in humans is not far behind.
I think they eventually ought to try cloning a dog to see if that wonderful creature gives all the same joy, compassion and love to human beings as many dogs do today. If you have any doubts, check out programs like Reading with Rover and H.A.L.T. (Humans and Animals Learning Together). If the dog clone works, we can know more surely that a cloned creature may have the soul of its species.