“Super” Cows Threaten The World

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Okay, so it’s not that bad…No 200 foot cow is going to walk off of the plains of West Texas, take a stink on Dallas, and suffocate an entire metro population.  However, news of “super cows” in Britain showed up in the Daily Mail today and are being seen by some as a threat to the nation’s food supply.  These cows promise to deliver 70 pints of milk per day and could lead to a source of cheaper food.

 The Problem?  The cows are second generation clones…embryos from a cow that is a clone of a champion dairy Holstein.  Only one has been born so far, but it has four “brothers” rumored to be on the way.  As one can imagine, this development has raised quite a stir in Britain; a country that has been fearful of even accepting genetically engineered U.S. grain products in the past.

Concerns raised vary from quality of life of the animal to “purity” (if that’s the correct word) of the food product itself.  Clones have shown to have shorter life spans than traditionally bread animals and seem to suffer from imperfections that lead to early arthritis and other ailments.  Although adverse effects on human populations eating food that is cloned (or genetically engineered) have not been proven, there are those who are concerned about the possibility.  The positive effect of allowing cloned or genetically engineered food to be used for human consumption is simple:  cheaper food.

Higher food supply will lower the cost of food on the world market.  This could allow countries to feed their own populations and have some left over to help feed other populations that are starving.  More supply on the world market would lead to a reduced cost in the effort of doing so.  If the food continues to prove benign, why wouldn’t we allow it to be used to help feed those who don’t have enough?  It seems to make perfect sense to continue along this path and see if it leads us to a larger food supply for a growing world population.

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2 Comments on ““Super” Cows Threaten The World”

  1. Stephen Says:

    Higher food supply will lower the cost of food on the world market. This could allow countries to feed their own populations and have some left over to help feed other populations that are starving.

    I wish that were likely. Countries that save money typically spend it on themselves, just like individuals who save money.

    I agree that genetic engineering has the potential to provide food for starving populations, and therefore we ought to explore the avenue. But any benefits will inevitably accrue to developed countries first, and primarily, and maybe never trickle down to the developing world.

    Consider AIDS in Africa: the first reaction of pharmaceutical companies was to enforce their patent and let multiple millions of poor people die.

  2. reportcard Says:

    Stephen:

    I’ll be the first to admit that my previous statement was optimistic at best, and you provide an excellent example as to how private corporations can act. The Aids in Africa example does have some relevance here, but I believe the key difference between food aid and medical aid is in the commodities market. Unlike new aids drugs, food prices are based solely on the availability of the product and government price supports. Should genetic engineering be used to dramatically increase supply, the price may come down enough to where poorer countries could afford the food themselves, should the richer ones choose not to be charitable.


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