Are Designer Babies Next?
There’s a great Michael Keaton movie from the mid-‘90s called Multiplicity, in which Doug, a busy contractor/husband/father, has himself duplicated so that so that he can have more free time. He ends up with a bunch of different clones of himself, each of which manifests a different part of his personality. One of them is a hyper-macho sports freak, one is gay, one is mentally challenged. The joke is that with each further clone – each copy of a copy – the stuff that makes the original able to function as a regular person gets more and more broken down. In 1996, when the movie was released, human cloning seemed about as possible as humans being able to fly. It was a crazy, silly concept, and a funny, entertaining movie that I’d long forgotten about. But with all of the cloning stories in the news this last week, I couldn’t help but think about it again. And suddenly, the concept doesn’t seem so silly anymore.
I’m sure you’ve heard about the first piece of news; the FDA has approved meat and milk from cloned animals for consumption. Now, I admittedly don’t know much about the science behind cloning, but the idea of eating meat from a cloned animal just kind of creeps me out. And it got me wondering. Will genes mutate during the cloning process? And what happens if they start making clones from clones, like they did in Multiplicity, or if they breed clones with other clones? What effect will that have on the food that we eat? They’re saying that right now, the cloned animals will just be used for breeding purposes –in other words, we won’t be eating them any time soon – but eventually, foods made from the offspring of those cloned animals will show up on the supermarket shelves. I’ve been making an effort to buy hormone-free milk products, as well as organic meats, and I appreciate that foods are labeled as such. But there aren’t any plans right now to label milk or meat that comes from cloned animals, and that concerns me. I want to know what I’m feeding my kids, and I suspect that a lot of other people do, too.