animal cloning for food purposes

On Organic Valley’s website I found a form I could fill out to send a letter to my congresspeople urging them to prevent the cloning of animals for food. I read the letter, decided I didn’t agree with it, and composed my own. It’s not perfect, but I’m saving it here for my future reference. Read if you like, but keep in mind that since I am trying to obtain a result here, my language is a lot more definite and a lot more one-sided than it would normally be. And my point isn’t to present a hard stance on cloning, one way or the other. Instead, I’m just trying to bring up some issues that I think haven’t been getting enough attention. The form letter itself, for example, was all about the potential health risks of eating cloned animals. I don’t care so much about that–I wouldn’t eat them anyway–as about the other negative consequences. So that’s what I wrote about.

Dear Congressperson,

This started out as a form letter on a website, but I am changing it. Unlike the writer of the original letter, my primary concern regarding animal cloning is not the potential risk to my personal health if I eat cloned animals. Instead, I am aghast at the broad environmental and philosophical implications such cloning would produce. The world ecosystem is so complex that we cannot yet hope to understand it, but that is no justification for implementing a plan that might have widespread and irreparable consequences. We have no idea what widespread animal cloning could do to the animal species already present. Genetically modified food crops are already doing damage to native plant species. I am sure the effect on animal life would be even greater.

In addition, the cloning of animals solely for food purposes seems to me horrifically uncompassionate. The meat industry (and, really, most other industries, since many seemingly unrelated ones also use animal products or by-products) already commodifies animals to a level previously unheard of. But the cloning of food animals would be not only commodifying animals, but creating them for the express purpose of commodification. Whatever we think about the sentience of animals, they are living beings, not objects. We should not be able to just churn them out, factory-style, as we do with other consumer products made of plastics or metals. Will we someday clone humans, too, to take our place in the battlefield, in the mines, or in other dangerous occupations? It may seem like a stretch, but I do not think the two possibilities are so far apart. Cloning, if anything, ought to be used for research–not to mass-produce living beings for our use and consumption.

I do not take a hard line on cloning in general. I believe it has great possibilities for good. But I am concerned that the proponents of cloning are not giving enough thought to the issues I have brought up. With all the debate over the health risks of cloning, people are not devoting enough discussion to the environmental or philosophical risks. I do not urge either the abolishment of cloning or the encouragement of it. But a careful debate, with research into all possible consequences, should be the first step in any new policy. As your constituent, I urge you to be the one to consider these issues and help bring them more into the forefront of the cloning debate.

I look forward to your response on this important issue.

Thank you!

By the way, I’ve sent out a number of these, to senators, representatives, and other local officials. People do reply. Often it’s just a standard “Thank you for your concern,” but sometimes I do get more personalized responses (probably written by some overworked intern, I realize) detailing the person’s stance on the issue, and that’s always interesting. So if you have an opinion on something, let them know! As Mrs Bergantz was always telling us in high school government, politicians are supposed to be public servants. They’re here to serve our needs . . . as unlikely as that feels sometimes in this time and place!

PS. Doh. I should have checked my letter more carefully for typos. I’ve already spotted some really bad ones. I’ve fixed them in this entry, but the typo-laden letter is already on its way to the politicians . . .

[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at]