Saturday, November 04, 2006

SUPERCOWS AND GLOW IN THE DARK PIGS

Some cloned meat products have already been cleared by the US Food And Drug Administration for retail sale, and scientists have talked about likelihood of something close to a 'meat tree' becoming a reality.

In the meantime, we have the bizarre reality of genetically altered animals.

Super cows, pigs that glow in the dark and goats that produce spider's silk. Not fantasy, but already a reality.

Genetically altering, or tinkering, with the building blocks of animal life is now a booming industry. Curiously, those furiously opposed to stem cell research, claiming a religious pre-requisite, have little to say about the human alteration of some of God's other creatures.

From the UK Daily Mail :

Channel 4 is to unveil a shocking menagerie of genetically modified animals in a new show revealing the frightening leaps technology has taken.

Among the bizarre engineered creatures from around the world is a giant cow, three times the size of ordinary cattle, reared without fat to produce gallons of milk.

But the so-called Belgian Blue - pictured here - is perhaps the least disturbing of the creatures to be shown in the three-part series Channel 4 Farm this winter. There are also glow-inthedark pigs and goats which produce spider's silk.

TV scientist Olivia Judson and journalist Giles Coren travel the world to visit the places where these animals are now being reared.

There is even a genuine "allotment" of growing human noses.
If a human gene or two is added to the DNA of a cow to produce leaner meat, and you eat it in steak form, does that count as cannibalism?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

A little over 80 percent of cow genes are identical with human genes. Those are the genes that make us mammals, etc. So if you add one "human" gene to that, it doesn't make it much more cannibalistic than it already is.

But then, about 40 percent of carrot genes are identical with human genes, so even if you're a vegetarian you are eating "human" genes.

Things work out this way because of evolution. Life on this planet shares lots of genes. The only way to be 100 percent non-cannibalistic is to eat gene-free food. That would be a very nasty diet and with today's food technology would likely leave you with severe malnutrition.

So I wouldn't worry too much about being a "gene cannibal" if I were you.

DARRYL MASON said...

Thanks for the fascinating comment, anon.

"Gene cannibal" is a very interesting term. So we're all cannibals to varying degrees, then?

What exactly is "gene-free food"?

Ice-cubes?

Anonymous said...

Darryl,

"Gene-free" food would include highly refined products such as Coca-cola, cooking oil, whisky, white sugar, extracted fractions of soy protein, such as lecithin, and petroleum-based additives used as flavorings or preservatives.

Yum yum!