WHAT WOULD JESUS CLONE?

The FDA’s about to approve the sale of meat and milk from cloned livestock, raising ethical questions and causing all kinds of consternation among religious and consumer groups, as well as animal rights activists.

“These are animals. They’re not just economic units…they’re not just machines,” Michael Appleby of the World Society for the Protection of Animals told the Washington Post.

Farming practices have increasingly relied on biotechnology in recent years. One of my favorite examples is the artificial insemination of turkeys, which are now bred to be so large-breasted that it’s physically impossible for them to simply mate the old-fashioned way. Evidently turkeys have less to be thankful for than ever.

Artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization and embryonic manipulation are widely accepted agricultural practices. But cloning and genetic engineering may not be greeted with such enthusiasm.

“If people become comfortable with these technologies, then human cloning is inevitable,” according to E.J. Woodhouse, a political science professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Center for Ethics in Complex Systems in Troy, N.Y.

Religious groups are perplexed by these new developments. Many Christian leaders reportedly view cloning as a sin.

"New questions have required the development of new theologies," said Harold Coward, director of the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society at the University of Victoria, B.C.

The Bible wouldn’t seem to offer a lot of guidance on such matters. Then again, how did Jesus manage to turn water into wine, if not through the miracle of genetic engineering? And what was up with those five loaves and two fishes with which he somehow fed five thousand people? Sure sounds like cloning. I remain utterly agnostic about this stuff, myself.