Hit & Run

Annals of Cloning: Steer Is Two TIme Winner

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O.K., strictly speaking Doc, the 2010 blue ribbon winning steer at the Iowa State Fair just won once, but he is a clone of the 2008 blue ribbon winner, Wade. As the Des Moines Register reported:

"Doc" is the first cloned animal to win a 4-H livestock blue ribbon at the fair.

The steer is a clone of "Wade," who weighed 10 pounds less than Doc's 1,320 pounds when he won the 2008 4-H blue ribbon.

Both were shown by Tyler Faber of Sioux Center.

Faber, 17, is the son of David Faber, president of Trans Ova Genetics of Sioux Center, a leader in advanced livestock genetic reproductive techniques.

"The steer was cloned and shown at the fair to highlight cloning and what it can do," said the elder Faber.

The cloned animal was not illegal in the judging competition, said Mike Anderson, Iowa State University Extension specialist and 4-H livestock judging director.

"We didn't know at the time that Doc was a clone, but it's not against the rules," Anderson said.

Anderson and David Faber agreed that a clone is not a perfect copy.

The environment in which two identical animals are raised can make a huge difference."There is a misconception that a clone is an automatic replica that can produce a champion, Faber said. "In reality, the animal still must be fed and cared for and shown skillfully in order to win," he said.

Generally, winning steers are sold at auction and slaughtered to produce tasty steaks. Although the FDA rules that meat from cloned animals is perfectly O.K. to eat, animal cloners are voluntarily keeping such meat off the market for the time being.

I will shamelessly mention that if the Fabers want to send me a couple of Doc steaks to try out, I would be willing to report on their deliciousness to Reason readers.