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"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:32
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Author:  Larry Simoneaux
Bio: Larry Simoneaux
Date:  January 14, 2007
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Topic category:  Other/General

Do we really need this???

The last time I looked, the road to hell was simply a road.

True, it had always been well used by reprobates, miscreants, rogues, swindlers, thieves, and the folks who use cell phones in movie theaters, but it was still only a road.

Nowadays, however, that road’s been lighted, widened, paved, greased and cleverly disguised as a path to a better place. And they’re building on ramps for the rest of us as fast as they possibly can.

The latest ramp was completed when someone decided that we now need meat and milk from cloned animals.

These would likely be the same individuals who’ve given us those abominations that humorists in the food industry refer to as "tomatoes." I submit that those things are to tomatoes as black velvet paintings of JFK and Elvis shaking hands in heaven are to the Mona Lisa. Which is to say, impostors.

So, I have a few questions.

Did I miss something? While I was out on my annual "let’s see how smelly I can get in 11 days" hunting trip, did a major upheaval occur?

The last time I checked, to produce meat and milk, all we’ve ever needed was a nice field and the male and female of the species most alluring to our taste.

Feed and water regularly, allow some quiet time under yon tree and, as surely as night follows day, we’d have few worries about where our next hamburger and milkshake were coming from. The reason for this, as many of you have figured out, is that chief among the many things warm-blooded mammals enjoy (humans included) is the process of producing more warm-blooded mammals.

As a race, we humans are problem solvers. We see a problem, something clicks, and we’re off trying to make things better. When we found that hauling heavy things was tough work, someone looked at a round rock and a branch and figured that he had the makings of an axle. A wiser individual (a member of the southern Neanderthals) saw this contraption and recognized that if you smoothed the rock, strengthened the branch, and put a seat on the contraption, you could race the thing. Thus beganeth, for the history buffs out there, NASCAR.

I digress.

Unfortunately, we humans have another tendency. We sometimes do things simply because we can. Baruch’s Observation sums this up as follows: "To someone with a hammer, everything else looks like a nail."

And that, in my opinion, is what’s driving this whole cloned food situation.

Somewhere, a group of scientists with a hammer (genetics) decided that "Bossy" looked a lot like a nail.

To my mind, we’re nowhere near ready for this.

I work in manufacturing. What we can do with metal these days is remarkable. With computers and machines that can duplicate intricate movements quickly and repetitively, we can make parts that are precise, useful, and long-lasting with far less effort than anyone ever thought possible even as little as 30 years ago.

That is, we can do this until someone or something makes a mistake. Then, what we produce is, in manufacturing parlance, "junk."

Usually, we catch that junk before it goes out the door. But not always. Sometimes that junk makes it to another company and, then, we get really obnoxious phone calls telling us that what we’ve sent them doesn’t work, fit, or perform as advertised.

Producing mechanical parts is complicated, but well within our ability. Producing cloned organisms is also, apparently, within our ability. The difference, however, is that organisms tend to be several orders of magnitude more complicated than mechanical parts and are, thus, infinitely more susceptible to errors.

I worry about errors in the food field because there, when the product doesn’t quite come up to spec, the mechanism that gets well and truly messed up tends to be thee and me. Bad enough we have to deal with the odd case of food poisoning or E. Coli outbreak. Lord knows where mistakes in this arena could lead.

Therefore, until we can produce, let’s say, a toaster that reliably toasts both sides of an English muffin for an eternity, I think we should leave meat and milk production to the animals. They’ve been at it for a while and they’ve proven themselves to be pretty good at what they’re doing. More importantly, they seem to enjoy their work.

In other words "If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it."

And, for those of you who vehemently disagree with all of this and are even now typing e-mails, the term "Luddite" is spelled with two "d’s."

Larry Simoneaux

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Biography - Larry Simoneaux

Larry Simoneaux is a regular columnist for The Everett Herald in Washington state. He is a retired ship driver for the US Navy and NOAA.

Read other commentaries by Larry Simoneaux.

Copyright © 2007 by Larry Simoneaux
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