Saturday, 27 November 2010

Cloning Craze

Updated on 8 December 2010

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) published the news on its website on 7 December 2010, that it will be advising ministers that applications for food from cloned animals should be processed under the novel foods regulation.  It will also be suggesting that food from the descendents of cloned animals does not need any special consideration, including labelling to inform the consumer of how these animals were produced.  What information, if any, to be released to the public, is to be discussed with Defra.

I wrote the poem below, which some may not understand, but it expresses my sentiments about this situation to a tee and I explain it now.  The purpose of cloned animals is to make more money.  Animals that are reared to fit a particular form and size facilitate food production and the putting of it in on the market.  That may be all very well as many would argue.  It may even be the case that the food is safe, at least as far as we can tell for now.  The overriding problem, as I see it, is that by reproducing farm animals in this manner, their genetic diversity will be lessened.  Genetic diversity is how organisms survive, especially those at the higher level of the evolutionary ladder.

This is the first step down the road to making animals like our vegetables, fruit and grains, the diversity of which we have already significantly decreased.  The more we make our food the same, the more likely it will be that it will be wiped out by disease or climate change.  It is indeed sad to read that the Food Standards Agency is bent on moving in this direction.  The one small glimmer of hope comes from the statement that the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods at least will be looking into the effect of different environments on the food from cloned animals.  But it is such a small glimmer of hope.

I shudder to think of scientists tinkering with these animals and the suffering caused because of it.  Are the scientists mad?  Whether they are or not, they are being encouraged by politicians, farmers and everyone who supports this type of innovation.  Without information, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for the consumer to have a say in the matter.  I hope that the organic certification continues to ban food from cloned animals, but the forecast is still gloomy.

To put cloning in context
We need to drop all pretext
Or soon be candidates for Bedlam
Where life is nothing but a flimflam.

Clones are similar in every detail
Making it easier to sell by retail.
Is our reason under a cloud?
This calamity makes me shout out loud!

To better describe the schism
Between delusion of profit and realism,
Cloned animals are part of monofarming
With long-term risks that are alarming.

Cloning is extreme inbreeding
Diminishing diversity without heeding
Conjured up by cloddish boffins
Leading to nowhere but our coffins.

We are in a cloning craze
Moving at furious speed in a daze.
Climate change and lack of rain
May explain this calenture of brain.

Mad scientists are surely to blame
But money is culpable for our aim.
Mind you, mine is not a crank call
But on deaf ears it seems to fall.

Photo Credit - Warp Speed Kills

PS  This poem was inspired by my attendance at the novel foods committee meeting at the Food Standards Agency on 25 November 2010 and the subsequent news that was published about cloned animals in the food chain.