UPDATE: Less than a day after I pointed out this misrepresentation to the estimable Tom Chivers, Strategic Events Editor and science blogger for The Telegraph, the article has been updated with the second NO replaced with a YES. Apparently, it was a simple error. Don’t I feel like the over-reacting fuck. Apologies to everyone involved and thanks to Tom Chivers for listening and going to the effort of getting this corrected.
If you’ve never read Tom Chivers’ blog or don’t follow him on Twitter, I enthusiastically recommend that you do. He’s one of a seemingly rare breed of journalists who speaks plainly, honestly and without exaggeration or tiresome political spin on every issue – while still managing to be entertaining (surely not possible! I hear you say). Most impressively, he truly engages with his readers in a polite, respectful manner. While newspapers have successfully nailed the aspect of blogging that involves spouting vast amounts of vitriolic, partisan, flamebaitery opinion, very few have cottoned on to the fact that a blog is supposed to be an extended conversation with your audience. In fact, I can’t think of any examples other than Chivers. Fair play.
The Telegraph (one of the “serious” papers) asks two experts the question that’s on everyone’s milk-parched lips: is it safe to eat dairy or beef from a cloned cow? To give a clue as to the direction the Telegraph was planning to go with this story, they include a picture of a crazy-looking cow looming in a manner that is sure to make any sane person shit their pants. Of course, I predicted the usual journalistic approach: two experts, two wildly conflicting opinions which together provide little or no clarity on the issue at hand. I was unexpectedly disappointed, however, as both experts seemed to be saying NO! It is not safe!! *Spits tea all over keyboard* So that’s fairly unequivocal. We’re fucked. Toxic juice from mootant cow clones is in our custards, our trifles and possibly even our crunch corners. Thank Christ the Telegraph is here to tell us the facts in such a straightforward manner. What’s that? You want to read past the unambiguous bold heading and see the detail of what the experts had to say? Fine… waste your time if you want. The Telegraph already spelled it out plain and simple so there’s no need to read on…
“For human health, no evidence of danger is not the same as safe.” – Peter Melchett, Policy Director, Soil Association
Hmm… that doesn’t seem quite so clear cut does it? No evidence of danger usually is the same as safe. And who is this expert? Policy Director doesn’t really sound like scientist, does it? I hope this is not just some sort of activist fellow who is guaranteed to offer a biased, kneejerk reaction against stories like this. Oh, he is. Ok. Next…
Thus, while the scientific evidence seems to confirm that cloned meat and milk are safe, large-scale agricultural cloning raises troubling ethical concerns about animal welfare. – Professor Sir Ian Wilmut, the creator of ‘Dolly the sheep’
I’m no scientist and it may be that I’m interpreting the Professor’s words wrong, but it looks like he just said that evidence seems to confirm that cloned meat and milk are safe. So that’s not a no, really, is it? No. So that means the Telegraph is completely full of shit, doesn’t it? Yes.