Cloned Foods, Europe, and Scientific Literacy

By Henry Miller, for the WSJ: The Cloned Cow Has Left the Barn

Benighted European politicians seem determined to discourage certain innovations in food technology even when the rest of the world stands as living—and eating—proof of their safety.

The European Parliament called in July for a ban on marketing foods derived from cloned animals and their offspring, and on Oct. 18 the European Commission proposed sweeping, temporary bans on animal cloning for food production. The proposal encompasses the use of cloned farm animals and the marketing of food from clones, and also create a system to trace imported genetic material such as semen and cloned embryos.

These proposals conflict with the expert opinions of the European Food Safety Authority, which has said repeatedly that with respect to food safety, there is no difference between milk and meat from conventionally bred animals and those obtained from clones and their offspring….

I’ll only add that the vast majority of people simply have no idea what a clone really is. And that’s a shame. Because whether the topic is human cloning or cloning animals for food, a little misunderstanding goes a long way. And it really doesn’t take much understanding to correct quite a few ethical errors. I’m not a scientist, but every year in my Critical Thinking class I spend about 120 seconds teaching my students the basics of the laboratory cloning process. That’s all it takes.

If you think this topic is important, do yourself a favour and at least read up on the basics. To that end, here’s the Wikipedia page on cloning.

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About Chris MacDonald

I'm a philosopher who teaches at Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto, Canada. Most of my scholarly research is on business ethics and healthcare ethics.
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