sabato 6 gennaio 2007

Cloni da mangiare

William Saletan si occupa oggi della reazione montante contro la decisione della Food and Drug Administration di dare il via libera al consumo della carne di animali clonati («The bum rap on cloned food», Slate, 6 gennaio 2007):

The left-wingers want the FDA, Congress, and President Bush to keep clones off the market. Their case, laid out in a petition to the FDA, is a mess of anecdotes, obsolete data, speculation, and ideology. … But their strongest argument is that cloned food is unsafe, since cloning, unlike fertilization, often fails to reprogram genes for normal embryonic development.
It’s a sensible worry, but the facts don’t bear it out. The FDA’s review, based on exhaustive and fully disclosed analysis of scientific journal articles, health records, blood samples, and meat and milk composition, found no “food consumption risks or subtle hazards in healthy clones of cattle, swine, or goats.” The agency concluded that “food from the sexually reproduced offspring of clones is as safe as food that we eat every day.”
Why don’t reprogramming errors taint your food? Because if they’re serious, they kill the animal before it’s old enough to be milked or eaten, or they cause defects that make the animal flunk federal food safety inspections. They don’t carry over to a clone’s offspring, since fertilization, like rebooting, cleans up programming errors. And the offspring are where the milk and meat will come from. ViaGen charges $15,000 to clone a steer. You don’t butcher a $15,000 clone. You use it for breeding.
Critics say cloning often causes health problems for cloned animals and their surrogate mothers. That’s true, but less so in some species, and the rate of complications is falling as the technology improves. Opponents of cloning also suggest we should ban it because it’s unethical “to alter the essential nature of animals.” Essential nature? We’ve been breeding animals for 15,000 years. We’ve been artificially inseminating them for nearly 700 years. Most apples, bananas, grapes, peaches, and potatoes are clones, and a lot of meat sold today was produced through in vitro fertilization, embryo transfer, or embryo splitting.
E conclude, appropriatamente:
Don’t be cowed. Question your fears. That’s the difference between us and the animals.

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