Wednesday, January 16, 2008

1-16-08: Soul(less) Food

Remember that sheep they cloned years ago in Scotland? I think it was named Dolly. I remember how crazy some people got over the experiment, mostly religious people and animal rights groups. I never quite understood why the animal rights groups really got into the debate, since it’s simply giving another animal a chance to live. I suppose they believed a clone animal shouldn’t be seen as a freak (though, by being the only cloned sheep in history, it is a freak of nature). Who knows.

Now they’re going to make food from cloned farm animals. For now, it’s only cows, pigs, and goats. No sheep yet. At first I thought it was pretty wild, but it seems now to simply be incredibly interesting. It raises really interesting questions.

Let’s tackle one particularly fascinating scenario involving this new movement toward clone cuisine. I will make two assumptions in this: 1) cloned animals have no souls and 2) there are many people who do not eat meat because they protest against eating something they see as having a soul. Now, it’s very true that many people go meatless in their diets for many other reasons. I just want to address the particular belief that involves soul eating. I’m also very aware of the arguments for and against animals and cloned animals having souls. Again, let’s just take those two assumptions and run with them.

Would some one who doesn’t eat meat because it had a soul eat a cloned animal? And, the other side, would some one who eats meat feel awkward eating soulless meat? It’s pretty interesting. I’m sure some people would say “Well, I just don’t think it’s nice because they brutalize cows.” But… if they create something simply for the purpose of using it for food… is that really brutal? If the food industry hadn’t used the technology, the cow wouldn’t exist in the first place, so is it really appropriate to say “it must have a chance to live”? I’d think these people would obviously have a problem with cloning in general, but could it be possible that part of their dislike is simply because it would cause a conflict with their beliefs? What I mean is: if the animal only existed to become food, would they believe that it should have the right to not live? How would that work?

The real issue would be whose rights it would really be regarding the animal’s existence. Does a clone have rights? It’s not really an individual, since it’s just a copy of another individual. Where does God fit into all of this? There are many questions, and I have to be honest, I wouldn’t feel comfortable eating cloned beef. It would give a whole new meaning to “rare.”

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