Religion, Science Fiction, and Kosher Bacon

We were discussing technological and genetically-engineered enhancements to human (and non-human) existence in my Religion and Science Fiction class today, and an interesting question came up. Could genetic engineering be used to make a pig that not only “cloveth the hoof” but also “cheweth the cud” and thus be kosher?

It turns out this question has been asked before – after class I did a quick search and came across a post on Daniel Radosh’s blog on the topic.

What do you think? Can genetic engineering give the world kosher bacon?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07600312868663460988 J. K. Gayle

    It's an interesting question!(But, if you believe the Onion, the World Rabbinical Council has already done it's own genetic engineering … a much easier one … by making "slight revisions and modernizations to these laws" of Kosher.)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00637936588223855248 Joshua

    Radosh's blog summarizes most of the issues. Note that it might be possible to take an actually kosher animal and slowly genetically alter it so that it was completely genetically identical to a pig. That would not have the issue of being descended from an impure animal and so would be pure. There's an incidental issue that comes up when discussing these issues which is that kashrut based on descent seems to only make much sense if one has special creation of individual species.A related question which I've discussed before (see http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/2009/06/captain-kirk-and-kashrut.html ) is if one had a Star Trek style replicator whether one could replicate kosher pork using that. I'm pretty sure the answer is yes.People have also thought about the kashrut of mythological creatures. See for example Jeff Vandermeer's piece: http://www.jeffvandermeer.com/2008/04/17/evil-monkey%E2%80%99s-guide-to-kosher-imaginary-animals/ Unfortunately, he makes some errors in halacha. For example, he presumes that sentience implies that something is not kosher which is clearly false. There's no statement either in the Talmud or in the Bible that sentience implies treifness. He's also wrong that chimaeric creatures must be treif if they have a part that is treif (from a halachic perspective it simply means they have a part that closely resembles that of another creature).


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