Thursday, January 17, 2008

Cloned Beef – Will you Eat It?

Well, it appears that the FDA doesn’t have a beef with cloned beef. They’ve proclaimed it safe, and cleared the way for cloned cows, pigs, and other livestock from reaching US markets. And the FDA is not requiring special labeling to designate that the meat came from a cloned animal. The government has asked animal-cloning companies to continue a voluntary moratorium on sales for a little longer.

Cloning animals has been a contentious point since 1997 when researchers produced the first cloned animal, Dolly, a sheep. There are 500+ cloned animals in the US at this time, and the livestock industry has, for now, followed a voluntary ban. Cloned sheep, however, still remain questionable with the FDA.

There are many grocers who will not sell cloned meat because consumers still find eating it questionable. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) said, "The FDA has acted recklessly…Just because something was created in a lab doesn't mean we should have to eat it…If we discover a problem with cloned food after it is in our food supply and it's not labeled, the FDA won't be able to recall it like they did Vioxx - the food will already be tainted."

For me, I have some discomfort with cloned meat. Part of it goes back to the “Mad Cow Disease” problems with beef. I know there is a lot more testing that goes on to keep cows out of the food chain that have mad cow. But, I find myself wondering, what other diseases or problems could a cow have that could be carried on, or even magnified, by cloning? What will happen long term to the breed if cloning becomes more and more the norm for reproduction?

There is still a lot that we don’t know about cloning. All we seem to know is that we can make copies of animals and sometimes we can even make those animals glow. (The latter refers to the cats cloned by South Korean researchers that were genetically altered and cloned so they glowed in the dark.)

Until there is several years of proof that there are no ill effects from eating cloned food, or ill effects to the breed being cloned, I won’t be eating cloned food. I think the people of the FDA should eat it for 20 years, and then let us know the results of their own personal study. If they’re healthy and show no ill effects from eating cloned meat, then I may consider it.

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