Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Cloning: Are We Ready?

No, you didn't accidentally click on the wrong blog. I'm actually going to do a blog post that doesn't have to do with the current election!

The FDA recently okayed the consumption of meat and milk from cloned animals. As big of a fan of science as I am, I'm a little scared at the prospect of having a Cloney Burger with some Vitamin DNA enriched milk on the side.

My trepidation isn't baseless, mind you. For a while now, I've been asking if we're socially ready for cloning, and so far I haven't been convinced we are. We're still in the "OH WOW!" phase of cloning where we're so busy figuring out what we can do that we're not figuring out what we should do. We've cloned animals and human body parts already, so it's not that much of a jump to clone human beings.

And once we do, we're going to open up whole new debates, and we're not ready to do the deep thinking necessary to tackle them. Do clones have souls? Are they elgible to vote or run for office? Have even one tenth of the people reading this thought about either of these questions? And how many more questions are there that have yet to be asked, let alone answered?

I also have a problem with the FDA making the call. Some people think this is one area where the federal government does good by us, but that depends on your perspective. How many drugs did the FDA say were safe to use before they got yanked because of unforeseen side effects? Of course, if you're a fan of taking drugs for years that will make you have a psychotic episode every time you hear a Rolling Stones song, then you shouldn't have a problem with the FDA. For those of us who happen to like living, we don't like it so much.

This is one area where privatization might be a boon to health care. Some people (usually the same folks who think the FDA is so keen) say if we let the free market take over this situation it will lead to big business being able to bypass the testing process. And if they did that, they would pay in the court of public opinion. If a company releases something that the public finds out is bad for them, the public won't keep buying from that company. Just ask Tylenol how much they suffered because someone tampered with the bottles. The free market isn't anarchic at all; it does have rules, and one of the biggest is DON'T KILL YOUR CUSTOMERS!

So, I think I'll pass on the cloned meat and milk for now, regardless of what the FDA says. I'd rather be safe than mutated.

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