Yikes. I’m happier than ever to be a vegan.
Let’s take a look at this article:
Many in agriculture believe such genetic copies are the next logical step in improving the nation’s livestock.
Notice how they mention improving the livestock itself and not the conditions the livestock live in? As Erik Marcus says, animals are units.
Consumer groups counter that many Americans are likely to be revolted by the idea of serving clone milk to their children or tossing meat from the progeny of clones onto the backyard grill. This “yuck factor,” as it’s often called, has come to light repeatedly in public opinion surveys. Asked earlier this year in a poll by the International Food Information Council whether they would willingly buy meat, milk and eggs that come from clones if the FDA declared them to be safe, 63 percent of consumers said no.
Hearing things like this makes me think that Erik’s hopes for vat-grown meat as a way to reduce the amount of suffering may have trouble getting off the ground in the consumer market. Of course, to me, the “yuck factor” associated with cloned meat is on part with the “yuck factor” regular ol’, factory farmed meat.
The article also mentions how cloned animals’ milk will hit the shelves soon, but probably not the meat from the cloned animals themselves because the clones are so expensive to create. For a second I thought, “Well, at least there are no dairy cow offspring that will become veal this way, right? Maybe it’s an ever-so-slightly more compassionate glass of milk.” Turns out, not really:
[Clones would] be used as breeding stock, so the real question is whether their sexually produced offspring would be safe.
The animals don’t get cut any break here. They may be able to clone a cow, but that can’t cut out the sentience gene.
He’s a merchant of boar semen, keeping about 80 valuable animals. Rural students, usually members of 4-H clubs or the Future Farmers of America, order semen from these champion animals at $50 to $150 a vial and use it to inseminate local sows in hopes of creating a winning pig.
I really have no intelligent comment about this paragraph. I just wanted to quote “He’s a merchant of boar semen.” Wasn’t that a Shakespearean comedy, The Merchant of Boar Semen?
One recent morning, two cloned calves pranced around a field outside Austin. Their progenitors were not living animals, but rather cattle that had already been butchered and hung on a hook in a slaughterhouse. The calves were selected for cloning after receiving high grades for meat quality and yield, judgments that couldn’t have been made while the originals were still alive.
Priscilla, born in April, and Elvis, born in June, were created by ViaGen. They’re destined to be bred together in an effort to create prime stock. If it works, ViaGen will clone a large population of once-dead cattle, aiming to sell them or their offspring for breeding.
This is kind of sad. Sure, they’re “pranc[ing] around a field,” which most calves don’t get to do, but the whole idea of creating “prime stock” for breeding purposes from “once-dead” cattle comes off as a some sort of crazy zombie-cow experiment. And the cloned cows and their offspring are the only ones who suffer if something goes wrong. This doesn’t really matter to those benefitting financially, as the following quote shows:
Published research shows risks to the health of clones at all stages of their lives. But the genetic problems aren’t likely to alter the food value of clones…
“Food value.” There’s another one of those “animals are units” phrases.
As long as the industry is looking for ways to produce milk, eggs, and meat at an even cheaper cost-per-“unit,” we’ll continue to see things like this. Unfortunately, there’s no going back to family farming and the idea that we may be paying too little for our food is foreign to most people.
I have no doubt that the industry and science will continue to find ways to lower the cost of meat production. They always have. The problem is that it’s always at the expense of animal welfare. Whether it’s by cramming more hens into a cage to produce cheaper eggs or by cloning dairy cows, the animals come up on the losing end of the stick, again.