Last year I wrote an entry about cloning and my disapproval of the process. Although popular opinion seems to be against cloning, apparently that doesn’t make a difference to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration because the FDA has deemed that milk and meat derived from clones is as healthy as products derived the traditional way.
It seems that a campaign of secrecy and desensitization is the plan to get this cloned food out on the shelves â€“ despite numerous independent studies that don’t agree cloned food is as healthy and despite the moral implications of cloning.
According to Bruce Knight, USDA undersecretary, there will be a transition period to allow â€œthe marketplace to adjustâ€ and he does not state how long this alleged period of time will continue. He states, â€œThis is about market acceptance.â€ He is calling a meeting of leaders in the industry to plan a strategy â€“ or at least to plan a way to overrun the American public and what we really want.
Although Stephen Sundloff, FDA food safety chief, says, â€œMeat and milk from cattle, swine and goat clones are as safe as food we eat every day,â€ many don’t intend to buy it. Because of this, it will be years before food from cloned animals will be sold on store shelves. Additionally, it costs about $20,000 to clone an animal so it is more likely their offspring will be used for meat. Finally, big companies such as Hormel Food Corp. and Dean Foods Co. will not sell the meat or milk from clones at this point because of the concerns and anxiety of the general consumer.
The greatest concern about food from clones is that the FDA will not ultimately require the food makers to label if their products came from cloned animals. While companies will be able to voluntary provide the information, in consideration of the vast consumer disapproval of cloning, do you really think they will? There is a voluntary system in play that includes an electronic identification tag on cloned animals sold with a customer pledge to market the animal as a clone – but no real laws govern any of it.
Sundloff goes on to say that, â€œBoth the animals and the food produced from those animals is indistinguishable from any other food source. There’s no technological way of distinguishing a food that’s come from an animal that had a clone in its ancestry. It’s not possible.â€
Despite his statements, because so many consumer advocates are opposed to cloning, the FDA is not moving forward more quickly. According to Sen. Barbara Mikulski, who sponsored legislation for the FDA to study the issue further, â€œThe 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.â€
Carol Tucker-Foreman of the Consumer Federal of America adds, â€œIf you ask what’s for dinner, it means just about anything you can cook up in a laboratory.â€
Already the two main cloning companies in the United States (Trans Ova Genetics and Viagen Inc.) have produced more than 600 cloned animals for breeders. All of this since has occurred since 1997, when Scottish scientists announced the first successful cloning of Dolly the Sheep. Funny to note that sheep are not on the FDA’s list of approved cloned animals. Besides the possible ramifications with regard to human consumption, cloning technology has not been perfected and attempts at cloning end in tragic birth defects, deformities and fatalities for the animals. After all, Dolly was euthanized in 2003 and suffered from lung disease. Frankly, cloning is unfair to people and animals because it compromises the natural reproduction process and creates an unnecessary, unnatural situation.
Despite the vast unpopularity of cloning, the government and scientists march on to the beat of their own drum. In fact, David Farber, president of Trans Ova, says, â€œWe are certainly pleased.â€ I can imagine they are because everyone is profiting from research that is unnecessary in light of the fact cattle are perfectly capable of reproducing on their own â€“ I still wonder what is wrong with good, old-fashioned procreation. Is this society so against anything normal that we can’t even handle cattle reproducing through sexual intercourse? Has life become such as â€œplanned eventâ€ that we are losing our sense of right and wrong? Further, wouldn’t research time and facilities be better used to address the myriad of â€œmysteryâ€ ailments attacking the general public with no specific causes or treatments than to create cloned cattle when animals know how to reproduce on their own? Further, if there is a shortage of cattle for meat or milk, why does almost half the food we buy wind up in the trash?
Mamasaid there’d be days like these…