Since early man fashioned that first stone tool, technology has been a cumulative process – we had to have stone tools to get to metals to get to spaceships to get to Facebook. Or something like that. The point is, every field of technological inquiry has its waypoints and milestones, and robotics – a field that notches mind-blowing advances with increased regularity – has just hit upon another monumental breakthrough: teat detection.
A study published in the journal Theriogenology has found beef and dairy products derived from cloned cows to be safe for human consumption, clearing the way for FDA approval expected later this year.
Health implications aside, eating cloned beef still doesn't excite most people, according to a survey by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology, which found that 64 percent of American consumers were uncomfortable with the whole notion of cloned livestock. A number of beef and dairy farmers have also expressed concerns over the decreased genetic diversity of food-producing animals and the vulnerability to disease that could arise. In any case, generating clones remains too expensive for large-scale applications. More realistically, clones will be made to preserve the genetics of favorable cows used for breeding.
What do you think? Would you eat a cloned T-bone? Sound off in the comments section below. But before that, check out PopSci's recent interview with a leading embryologist from ViaGen, a livestock-cloning lab in Austin, Texas, that is surely ecstatic with today's announcement. —John Mahoney