Artificial Meat Would Not Be Prohibited

Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, a well known Israeli Orthodox rabbi, told an Israeli media house that it would be kosher, perfectly alright from the religious point of view, to eat pigs if they are created through genetic cloning. These artificial gene-tweaked pigs could also be eaten by partnering them with dairy products.

Rabbi Cherlow said that this point of view is true only if the meat being consumed is grown through technological means from pig cells. An observant Jew cannot eat pork products if the genetic material of the source animal is an original one. Surprisingly, the Talmudist did not stress on the distinction. In an interview at a symposium in Bar Ilan University, he said that rabbis should approve cloned meat so that people must not starve. He also cited two other reasons: avoiding the suffering of animals and preventing the incidence of pollution. To buttress his point, he said that when the pig cell gets used and used to synthesize food, the cell’s original identity is lost. It can then be consumed without hesitation. Pork created in this way can be thus consumed with milk. Pork is one of the toughest prohibitions in the Jewish religion.

The argument for food consumption rule relaxation among devout Jews is not new. Even in 2012, an American rabbi, the Orthodox Rabbi Menachem Genack of New York, said that the burger made from test tube meat could be consumed simultaneously with dairy products. The Jewish religion prohibits eating any meat with dairy products if the meat concerned was taken from an animal which lived prior to it being slaughtered for food. Genack said test tube meat can be regarded as ‘parve’: neither dairy nor meat. This meant cheeseburgers were an acceptable meal option for conservative Jews.

Genack at that time referred to artificial beef burger production by scientists working at a university located in the Netherlands. There was no mention of pork in his speech and comments. Cherlow is aware of the commotion his opinion could generate. He said that inevitably there will be major disagreements in the Jewish community on the subject of consumption of cloned meat. He said that although there could be ‘merit’ when it comes to prohibiting pork, the Jewish laws related to this specific instance should examine the requirements of humanity as a whole and not as a case related only to Jews.

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