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There seems to be an overwhelming opposition on the part of the American public o the notion of cloning and the consumption of food made from cloned animals.

The Washington Post reports on a new study by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology saying that 66 percent of Americans are “uncomfortable” with the notion of animal cloning, and that more than four out of 10 Americans believe that food from cloned animals would be unsafe to eat.

The public sentiment would appear to fly in the face of conclusions reached by organizations like the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) that food products from cloned animals would be safe to eat and virtually indistinguishable from so-called “normal food.”
KC's View:
The study creates an interesting problem for the cloning industry. While the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said that it is likely to allow the sale of products made from cloned animals when it completes a review of the issue, it is a technology that a great many customers clearly are uncomfortable with and would be unwilling to support with their wallets.

Which means that the cloning industry has to step carefully, making sure that it doesn’t go too far in challenging customers’ level of comfort while still expanding a nascent industry. A great deal of this can be dealt with through obvious and unambiguous labeling – put the product on the shelves, clearly say what it is, and let the consumer choose.

We also think there is another problem. For a lot of people, lack of comfort with cloning isn’t the same thing as, say, not being comfortable with a new cell phone or the GPS systems on their cars. It has a moral complexity to it that can be traced directly to “Frankenstein” and its brethren – how far can and should man go in taking actions that could be interpreted as playing God? It isn’t just a matter of using the brain, but the conscience.

It is the great challenge and opportunity of the 21st century to have to deal with these issues. Not easy, but grappling with issues of moral complexity never is.