Having just read Ominovore’s Dilemma and been a farmer for more than half my life, many of Michael Pollan’s http://www.michaelpollan.com/ feelings about killing something with a face hit very close to home. I too have killed many an animal destined to be dinner. It is not easy. But at least you have that visceral connection to what you are about to eat, and that’s important. The point being that this latest annoucement moves us ever closer to a global food machine with which we have absolutely no connections remaining.
We already have an immense number of negative issues in our global food system. Most of which can be overcome with a variety of remedies. But now the FDA is presumably going to allow genetically identical animals to be butchered for general sale. That means, they will all have the same defects, as in the same susceptibility to pests. And because they will have the same susceptibility that means most likely they’ll get stronger more frequent doses of antibiotics to fight the diseases that could now spread easily from one animal to the next because they have no genetic diversity (or very little). More antibiotics is not good for the person about to chow down, but it is also not good for environment as it only ensures a more virulent population of bacteria running around.
The issue I have is not about creating a cow in a Petri dish using a unique egg and fertilizing with unique sperm, or even artificial insemination. It is about taking genetically identical cells from a single animal and turning them into an animal destined for your dinner table. The Bush administration won’t even allow this type of process to be used to help fight human diseases and defects because he feels it is unethical.
Evolution is what it is because of genetic diversity. Nature has chosen to not narrow the gene pool because a diverse gene pool means a stronger web of life. The FDA is now proposing taking a perfectly dysfunctional food system and weakening it even further. At some point something is going to give in a big way. For me, I’ll continue to eat my beef from Slope Farms and my chickens from Cooper’s Ark. I know the farmers. Heck, I may have even known the animal. Mostly, I know they were healthy, happy animals bred and raised in a natural environment, not a test tube. And they taste great! Know Your Roots.