Guess What's Coming to Dinner? Cloned Beef! Yummy!

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The FDA wants to approve the sale of meat from cloned animals and their offspring. So the Los Angeles Times arranged a dinner party to which I devoutly wish I had been invited–one in which diners compared steaks from conventionally raised cows and those from the offspring of cloned cows. The "cloned" meat didn't actually come from a cloned cow (they are too expensive to just slaughter and eat), but from cows born using the sperm of a clone of the prize winning bull, Full Flush.

Nutrition scold, Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, refused the invitation to dine, telling the LA Times:

"I'd rather eat my running shoes than eat meat from a cloned animal."

On the other hand, USC sociologist Barry Glassner, author of The Gospel of Food: Everything You Think You Know About Food Is Wrong, accepted with gusto. Glassner clearly understands interest group politics.

A survey last year by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology found that 64% of Americans were uncomfortable with animal cloning…

Glassner, the sociologist, was quick to assign blame for what he perceived as scare-mongering. "It comes from politicians and advocacy groups that make the association." …

"You think the word 'clone' just came out of the sky and we're afraid of it?" Glassner responded. "There are a lot of interests that benefit from the hysteria. Politicians sound like they're for safe food, and they're going to protect us from this Frankenstein future that we hear about. And beyond that, there is a premium that many people will pay for meat that's labeled as noncloned. The organic industry β€” they're thrilled about this."

Was there a difference in taste? None. So that raises the next question: why pay more for "cloned" beef? Gustatory novelty, perhaps? In any case, steaks from cloned cattle will certainly taste better than Schlosser's Adidas.

Whole LA Times article here.

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  1. Title typo alert!

  2. Dude, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Cloned beets rule the roost.

  3. Will a cloned, revitalized James Garner do the ads for this?

    (think: the celeb heads in Futurama)

  4. Thanks. Typo fixed.

  5. Free the Chick-e-Bobs!

  6. “There are a lot of interests that benefit from the hysteria. Politicians sound like they’re for safe food, and they’re going to protect us from this Frankenstein future that we hear about. And beyond that, there is a premium that many people will pay for meat that’s labeled as noncloned. The organic industry – they’re thrilled about this.”

    But of course there are no interest groups that would benefit from cloned meat being approved for sale.

    And where’s the “hysteria”, anyway?

  7. 64% of Americans were uncomfortable with animal cloning

    And animal slaughtering. And animal birthing. And cleaning up the animal manure. In other words, most Americans are uncomfortable with farming, which is why most of us get fat at a nice desk job and keep our hands clean.

  8. Which reminds me, does the Religious Right know it’s still legal in the U.S. to practice animal husbandry?

  9. It is not cloning that is going to make the impact, it is growing meat, and especially fish, artificially in laboratories. That is coming in a few decades or maybe sooner. Imagine if we didn’t have to fish out the oceans for seafood but instead could just grow shrimp or Chilean Sea Bass in laboratories leaving the ocean to return to a more pristine state. Or, instead of having huge feedlots and the accompanying pollution have steaks you could grow in a few hours in your own house. That would be a real improvment.

  10. I’m cool with cloned meat. It’s all this random sex meat I can do without.

  11. I pretty much limit my meat purchases to free range/cage free organics, but that’s mainly for reasons of environmental impacts and animal welfare. I’d have no problem eating a cloned cow that was raised properly – it would be a damn sight better than a “normal” cow raised in a factor farm.

    In related news, the FDA is about to approve the bovine use of a new antibiotic, despite a majority of panelists voting to deny authorization for animal use based on concerns about breeding resistant strains of microbes.

  12. Cross posted this on facebook:

    Leftist sisters and brothers, luddite attitude is RETARDED, sorry, but I’m afraid it is completely counterproductive to adopt a catergorically primitivist attitude towards biotechnology IN GENERAL. Considering that Boston is probably one, if not THE biotechnology capital of the world, it would make much more sense to invent some sort of individualist code of ethics for scientists to follow, rather than attempt to coerce and steal from biotech corporations. We absolutely should be shouting down their lies, but violence begets violence and even the threat of violence will create fear.

    There is nothing wrong with genetically engineering plants, animals, and human beings in a safe way. Even there isn’t a safe way yet, we can invent a safe way. If you think this is impossible, you are retarded. If you think peacefull, nonviolent researchers should be stopped because of YOUR paranoia, you need to educate yourself and advocate positively for positive applications of biotechnology.

    Also, in case you hadn’t realized, Che Guevara was a violent, authoritarian ape. Cuba is not a nice place to live at all. If you adorn your person with his image this is a clear indicator that you suffer from subconscious fascist tendencies. The best cure I know for this is psilocybin mushrooms.

    Bob Marley, Emma Goldman, Ghandi, Lucy Parsons, Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez, to name a few. When you adorn your person with the image of Guevara it says RETARD in big capital letters. Go ahead and have a fit, just as long as you grow a brain when you’re finnished.

  13. Ed: Right you are. As you will see from my column “I don’t care where my food comes from and neither should you,” I regard the likes of Schlosser and Michael Pollan as complete poseurs.

  14. It is not cloning that is going to make the impact,

    I think the idea is to clone animals with particularly desirable traits. Beef with a certain kind of marbling, or a cow that is especially fertile. Conventional reproductions a crap shoot. Just ask those guys trying to make racehorses. Oh, and like every single technology that came before it, cloning will be cheap and easy once the tech matures.

  15. Good meat comes from happy cows, happy cows come from giant vats.

  16. Tros: I’m sorry, the quote you quoted is in many places quite sensible, but I make it a policy not to listen to people who can’t spell Gandhi.

    It bespeaks intellectual laziness–if you haven’t read anything about him, you have no business mentioning him for good or ill, and if you have read about him you have no excuse for misspelling his name.

  17. 64% of Americans were uncomfortable with animal cloning

    I find this figure hard to believe. Cloning seems like an easy sell to me.

    GM foods on the other hand, that is a tougher sell.

    I wonder if the people answering the survey are mixing the two in thier answer.

  18. ,,,are uncomfortable with farming, which is why most of us get fat at a nice desk job and keep our hands clean….

    That’s right, I prefer to do my hunting at the local groceria. Not interested in shooting game, cleaning, disposing of the entrails, laundering the blood soaked garments, or none of the rest of it. I want a steak in a cellophane package.

  19. Come on jb, it’s a just spelling error. πŸ™‚

    If the comment was good, then it doesn’t matter all that much because we all knew who tros meant when he misspelled Ghandi.

    Some people just can’t spell, some people are careless, some people are really good at spelling, some people don’t know what spell check is, and some people have that annoying spell checker that comes with Firefox. The one that thinks Ghandi should be spelled: Mohandis or Handicap or Handiwork. It doesn’t know how to spell anything either.

    Personally, I take more issue with his frequent use of the word RETARD than with him misspelling Ghandi. I know people who are actual retards. None of them are Marxist and none of them own a Che Tee Shirt.

  20. In Soviet Russia, cow clone YOU!

  21. 64% of Americans were uncomfortable with animal cloning

    64% of Americans are uncomfortable with anything their parents didn’t do.

    I wonder how many people realize that almost all the fruit we eat is produced by cloning, and has been for decades.

    But of course there are no interest groups that would benefit from cloned meat being approved for sale.

    And the biggest group would be people who eat meat. Consistently better quality, and eventually lower price for the same quality, are features, not problems.

    It is not cloning that is going to make the impact, it is growing meat, and especially fish, artificially in laboratories.

    Provided (as several SF stories predict) we don’t stumble on the laboratory equivalent to long pig.

  22. Oh, and: Bob Marley, Emma Goldman, Ghandi, Lucy Parsons, Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez, to name a few.

    What we really need is a T-shirt with a photo of Norman Borlaug.

  23. LarryA,

    “But my special interest are the good guys, who will do good things” does make them any less of a special interest.

  24. Interesting that Barry Glassner, author of The Culture of Fear, is not afraid.
    Wait, no, it’s not interesting. The guy who warned us about baseless fear-mongering shouldn’t be afraid.
    Never mind. Delete my comment.

  25. And the biggest group would be people who eat meat. Consistently better quality, and eventually lower price for the same quality, are features, not problems.

    That’s begging the question. The objection to Frankenfoods are that they may not turn out to be safe.

    Hopefully, they will. But you don’t have to be a luddite to exercise caution.

  26. I’m with Cab. It’s the exact same cow…where is the threat? For that matter…where is the benefit? Like so much else in genetics, it seems to be a solution in search of a problem.

  27. Don’t you people understand, cloned beef will inevitably lead to a world in which the genetically engineered Aryan super beef will rule the other benighted cows. A future where the divide in cow society becomes ingrained into their very DNA.

  28. Cowwin’s rule?

  29. James, much of the tree-based fruit industry uses cuttings from certain superior plants to ensure a uniformity and superiority of product. These are often the most productive plants, so it makes sense for the farmer to breed them… but even more sense for the farmer to just make cuttings and propagate clonally.

    A similar thing could be done with meat, making sure that we as consumers usually get the same high grade of beef or uniform (large) size certain choice cuts. Of course, it would be subject to the same problem that all clonally produced populations have, namely disease: if something affects one individual, it’ll likely affect all of its genetically identical clones as well.

  30. joe – it’s spelled, “m??”

    πŸ™‚

  31. No, VM, the proper term is “moo.”

    Dumbing down our bovine education system with Moose-bonics is a sign of cultural decline.

  32. 64% of people may be uncomfortable with cloned meat, but I suspect even more people are uncomfortable with killing their own meat. Nobody wants to make the connection between awesome venison stew and Bambi, or beef wellington and those lovable moo-moos one sees while driving along the interstate.

    In fact, some people are even offended that children would be subjected to the horrible sight of how meat makes into neat little cellophane packages.

    So what if people are uncomfortable with cloned meat? People are uncomfortable with death. Why else would we call it beef, venison, pork, ham, etc. We can’t even call our burger meat “cow.” I’m am not surprised to hear that people are uncomfortable with a new way to get that cute moo-moo into the cellophane package and ultimately my belly.

  33. LOL

    πŸ™‚

    Moose-bonics is a perfectly acceptable form of Cow-munication.

    “What A” Guy Dienstag blogs about it!

  34. So, if they clone geese with extra-fatty livers will I eat the foie gras made out of it? I’ll certainly give it a try! Indeed, I’ll give it several tries. πŸ˜‰

    If they can clone abalone that would be awesome too.

  35. Lamar,

    You nailed it. My wife will gladly eat all kinds of meat, but does NOT like to be reminded that it originally came from an animal. Pig and cow jokes about the main course have been summarily banished from the dinner table. In her worldview, meat magically appears at the butcher shop with no precedent creature involved. Vat-grown beef would actually improve things from her perspective.

    Me, I don’t get it. Generally speaking, something died for your meal. ‘Tis the way of the world.

  36. Here’s my beef with cloned beef: it turns a single instance of a natural animal into some human’s (or rather, human corporation’s) intellectual property. I think the testing and license fees that have grown up in plant crops around second generation GM fields is by far the most lousy recent development in agribusiness. I do not look forward to the day when some beefy Pioneer HiBred is able to code in or breed for sterilization along with the marbling genes, and turn the screws onto producers for repeat business. (it would be far better for the clone producer to take on the entire business risk (and run production from head to tail) rather than generate a captive revenue stream based on a specific original instance of a cow)

    I think the case of Diamnond v. Chakrabarty should have been outside the scope of human law, in much the same way I feel the continued existence of, for instance, cannabis and poppy plants should be outside the scope of human law. Living things, natural plants and animals, should interact with human society in the event of their individual existence, and not with any overriding ownership or control of the entire class.

  37. “Generally speaking, something died for your meal.”

    and the cuter it is, the tastier the meal!

    (think: SNL at the Monkey restaurant where Dennis Miller says, “I’ll take the little one that’s clinging to the big one”)

  38. I feel like I’ve eaten this steak many times before. It’s deja moo all over again!

  39. it turns a single instance of a natural animal into some human’s (or rather, human corporation’s) intellectual property.

    Umm, every instance of a “natural [domesticated] animal” is someone’s property already. Not sure what the beef is here.

  40. I think “deja moo” wins the thread!

  41. Just for yucks: Ed’s take on lamb, and PETA:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lsj2LmBCpuQ

  42. Why else would we call it beef, venison, pork, ham, etc.

    Well, with beef specifically it’s a word borrowing from French. “Boeuf” is French for “cow” and after the Norman Invasion the word ended up in English because it sounds fancy, from Old French the spelling is boef. Most of the others are the same, pork coming from the Latin word for pork &c.

    Incidentally, there’s an awesome online etymology dictionary.

    http://www.etymonline.com/index.php

  43. Latin word for “pig” rather.

  44. R C:

    I agree – an individual domestic animal is a specific human’s property. I object to an entire theoretical class of organisms being specfic property.

    If an agribusiness, either through breeding or GM (it doesn’t matter, really) developed a super-marbled tasty cow, or cow which reaches slaughter weight weeks less than normal, or other quality trait, great. If they then use cloning to be able to produce thousands of shots of sperm for artificial insemination, or cloned zygotes to be sold to farmers for implantation, great.

    Everything’s fine to this point. If a farmer grows the child of the artificial insemenation or the purchased zygote to adulthood, and then breeds the result with regular cattle, I don’t believe the original breeder should have any financial interest or ownership in the result.

    It’s currently not the case with plants. Plant farmers who use GM crops or even have GM genome show up in their neighboring cropfields owe a royalty to the IP holder. (Monsanto Canada Inc. v. Schmeiser). Beyond the willingness of parties to observe it, I can’t comprehend the legal theories that would enforce a contract with this provision. I just can’t see this as piracy in the slightest.

    I assert the following: all living things exist to distribute their genomes, that this is the meaning of life. More colloquially, a genome is the ultimate open-source software. GM companies can make fine profits selling services in support of their innovations in the genome; I reject strenuously to the idea that a self-replicating code (with inherent self-modifying procedures) carries forward any intellectial property ownership beyond the physical product of the first iteration.

    It should be incumbent on any GM company that feels otherwise to own the security of their code, and not assert that released derivative products of their research were somehow stolen through human agency.

  45. Timothy: I use that site all the time. It’s great. But it doesn’t change my point. Why are people using foreign words when referring to food, but vernacular when referring to animals? And why is it fancy? Please don’t say “because it’s French” because the masses didn’t know French.

  46. TWC:
    Yes, it’s just a spelling error, but it’s not a typo. A typo is when your finger slips–in this case, people’s brains are putting the h in the wrong place.

    I still don’t respect anyone who has read about the man enough to understand him and still won’t spell his name right. I respect even less those who misspell his name because the only things they’ve read about him are written by the first group.

  47. Lamar: At this point because it’s a part of the language of modern English. At the time, it was probably borrowed because the upper-class spoke French and the peasantry picked up on it.

    I’m not saying you don’t have a point about people dealing with death poorly, you do, but I think the language of meats has a lot more to do with English’s history as the bastard child of basically every other European language than it does with anything death specific. Not that I’m a linguist or anything, but I think at this point it’s been in the language for a few hundred years so that’s likely the reason.

  48. Plant farmers who use GM crops or even have GM genome show up in their neighboring cropfields owe a royalty to the IP holder. (Monsanto Canada Inc. v. Schmeiser).

    Not the Monsanto Canada case again. That was pretty clearly a case of theft – its not like you can get concentrations of a specific strain in your field like the farmer did without planting it.

    And what’s wrong with a farmer deciding, of his own free will, to enter into a contract with a seed company that places certain restrictions on what he does with the seed and its resulting plants?

  49. Timothy: I specifically disagree that the peasants used the Norman words because the aristrocracy used those terms. They were neither educated enough to speak French, nor does it appear that they ever did. If the poor ate cow, they ate cow, not beef.

    Also, there is the same distinction in other languages that were not a part of the Norman invasion. In Spanish, a cow is “vaca” but when you eat the cow it is “rez.” A chicken is a gallina, but pollo is the food.

    I really don’t know if it is because we don’t want to animate that which we are going to eat, but I’m pretty sure the Norman aristocracy has nothing to do with it. OK, way too much research on this.

  50. Lamar, As to commoners using the Norman French word for things: The book Quicksilver (which is fiction but not historically inaccurate I think ) points out that the guy who shoes horses is called a ferrier, from the French word for the same. The 17th century English character then realizes that, since the French word for horseshoe is fer, the French must have had an inordinate influence on his language somehow. This angers the character so he brains a young ferrier with a branding iron and an educational time is had by all.

  51. Yes, entertaining books, NOT historically accurate, but for historical fiction, pretty good. I’m sure many latin words and french words seeped into the vernacular by the mid-1600s, 600 years after the Norman invastion. I didn’t mean to suggest that there was an eternal firewall between French and English.

  52. Lamar,

    “People are uncomfortable with death. Why else would we call it beef, venison, pork, ham, etc.”

    Actually, there’s an answer to that. When the French-speaking Normans took over English-speaking England, the ordered their food in French. Their English servants were told to cook a boeuf, and went out and killed a cow, then called it “boeuf” when serving their French masters.

    Eventually, the French word became the name for the dish, while the English word remained the word for the animal in came from.

  53. Lamar,

    As usual, the libertarians left economic class out of their analysis, and left you with an incomplete picture.

    πŸ˜‰

  54. In England you get two eggs for breakfast, but in France one egg is un oeuf.

  55. I still don’t respect anyone who has read about the man enough to understand him and still won’t spell his name right. I respect even less those who misspell his name because the only things they’ve read about him are written by the first group.

    Fair enough.

  56. but in France one egg is un oeuf.

    That’s very good, but NoStar still wins with

    Deja Moo.

  57. They don’t mind dying. We project too much of our own thinking.

  58. Q: Do cloned cows have a Buddha nature?

    A: Mu ?

  59. Antarctic Penguin comes from behind to steal the thread from NoStar. What a stunning upset!

  60. Still doesn’t explain the same phenomenon in Spanish and Japanese.

  61. When fast food, and guess what is good, often very very excited.

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