Cloned Milk, Spoof Websites, and ‘Astroturfing’

Some of you may have noticed that I run another blog, the Biotech Ethics Blog. It’s mostly a place where I post news stories, with minimal commentary and minimal discussion. But one item I posted recently has clearly touched a nerve. It was an entry called CyClone Dairy: “Perfect Cows. Perfect Milk.” It’s about a website I found for something supposedly called Cyclone Dairy, a dairy that brags that all of its milk is from cloned cattle.

Now, it’s true that the FDA has given approval, in principle, for the sale of milk from cloned cattle. But contrary to what this website implies, it’s not actually on the market yet. (I blogged about that here.)

Note also that the CyClone Dairy website includes no contact information — this apparently is supposed to be a company that wants to sell milk, but not to be contacted by buyers.

Note also that their Frequently Asked Questions page raises the question of ethics, but says simply “Are there any ethical issues about cloning? No.”

Add to that the fact that the domain name “cyclonedairy-dot-com” has been registered via a proxy, effectively rendering the true registrant anonymous — which a real company basically would not do.

So, the site is clearly a spoof, presumably by someone trying to stir up opposition to milk-from-clones or to biotechnology in general. Or maybe it’s some kind of art project. Who knows?

But the comments on the blog posting have also been interesting. There’s been some clear posturing & baiting, and one accusation of astroturfing (i.e., an effort at giving the fake impression of grass-roots concern.)

So, someone is messing with us. And I realize I’m playing into their hands by posting this, raising awareness of their site. I’m sure whoever’s behind it will unveil the secret, eventually…presumably after milking it for all it’s worth.

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