T Nation

FDA Oks Food From Cloned Animals

Cloning scientists have acknowledged that genetic abnormalities are common in clones, yet FDA failed to address how food safety and animal welfare concerns could be managed if cloning is widely adopted by the livestock industry. Some of the health and safety problems in animal cloning include:

Surrogate mothers are treated with high doses of hormones; clones are often born with severely compromised immune systems and frequently receive massive doses of antibiotics. This opens an avenue for large amounts of veterinary pharmaceuticals to enter the human food supply;

Imbalances in clones’ hormone, protein, and/or fat levels could compromise the quality and safety of meat and milk;

The National Academy of Sciences warned that commercialization of cloned livestock for food production could increase the incidence of food-borne illnesses, such as E. coli infections;

Cloning commonly results in high failure rates and defects such as intestinal blockages; diabetes; shortened tendons; deformed feet; weakened immune systems; dysfunctional hearts, brains, livers, and kidneys; respiratory distress; and circulatory problems.
“There is widespread concern among Americans, and scientific concern that cloned food may not be safe and that cloning will increase animal cruelty,” said Mendelson. “We intend to pursue our legal action to compel FDA to address the many unanswered questions around cloned food.”

Nevertheless,the government declared Thursday that food from cloned animals is safe to eat. After more than five years of study, the Food and Drug Administration concluded that cloned livestock is “virtually indistinguishable” from conventional livestock.
The FDA?s action also follows growing opposition to the use of clones and their progeny for food products on Capitol Hill. In November, Senator Barbara Mikulski sent a letter to the FDA requesting a complete overview of how the agency came to its decision of using clones in food. In early December, a bi-partisan group of seven senators led by Senator Patrick Leahy asked FDA to reconsider its assessment of cloned animals. The International Dairy Foods Association, representing major dairies and food makers including Kraft, Nestle and others, also has opposed allowing products from cloned animals into the food supply at this time.

FDA believes “that meat and milk from cattle, swine and goat clones is as safe to eat as the food we eat every day,” said Stephen F. Sundlof, director of the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine.

Officials said they don’t think special labels are needed, although a decision on labeling is pending.

Because scientists concluded there is no difference between food from clones and food from other animals, “it would be unlikely that FDA would require labeling in those cases,” Sundlof said.

Final approval is still months away; the agency will accept comments from the public for the next three months.

Critics of cloning say the verdict is still out on the safety of food from cloned animals.

“Consumers are going to be having a product that has potential safety issues and has a whole load of ethical issues tied to it, without any labeling,” said Joseph Mendelson, legal director of the Center for Food Safety.

Carol Tucker Foreman, director of food policy at the Consumer Federation of America, said the FDA is ignoring research that shows cloning results in more deaths and deformed animals than other reproductive technologies.

The consumer federation will ask food companies and supermarkets to refuse to sell food from clones, she said.

“Meat and milk from cloned animals have no benefit for consumers, and consumers don’t want them in their foods,” Foreman said.

However, FDA scientists said that by the time clones reached 6 to 18 months of age, they are virtually indistinguishable from conventionally bred animals.

Labels should only be used if the health characteristics of a food are significantly altered by how it is produced, said Barb Glenn of the Biotechnology Industry Organization.

“The bottom line is, we don’t want to misinform consumers with some sort of implied message of difference,” Glenn said. “There is no difference. These foods are as safe as foods from animals that are raised conventionally.”

Those in favor of the technology say it would be used primarily for breeding and not for steak or pork tenderloin.

Cloning lets farmers and ranchers make copies of exceptional animals, such as pigs that fatten rapidly or cows that are superior milk producers.

“It’s not a genetically engineered animal; no genes have been changed or moved or deleted,” Glenn said. “It’s simply a genetic twin that we can then use for future matings to improve the overall health and well-being of the herd.”

Thus, consumers would mostly get food from their offspring and not the clones themselves, Glenn said.

Still, some clones would eventually end up in the food supply. As with conventional livestock, a cloned bull or cow that outlived its usefulness would probably wind up at a hamburger plant, and a cloned dairy cow would be milked during her breeding years.

That’s unlikely to happen soon, because FDA officials have asked farmers and cloning companies since 2001 to voluntarily keep clones and their offspring out of the food supply. The informal ban would remain in place for several months while FDA accepts comments from the public.

Approval of cloned livestock has taken five years because of pressure from big food companies nervous that consumers might reject milk and meat from cloned animals.

To produce a clone, the nucleus of a donor egg is removed and replaced with the DNA of a cow, pig or other animal. A tiny electric shock coaxes the egg to grow into a copy of the original animal. Cloning companies say it’s just another reproductive technology, such as artificial insemination, yet there can be differences between the two because of chance and environmental influences.

Some surveys have shown people to be uncomfortable with food from cloned animals; 64 percent said they were uncomfortable with such food in a September poll by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology, a nonpartisan research group

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061228/ap_on_sc/cloned_food

Yummy. You know we will truly live in a golden age when we are eating clones.

Well, if the FDA says it’s good, who are we to argue? Remember, these are the same folks who, in response to studies showing that most American women were deficient in iron, LOWERED the RDA of iron, to show that women were getting plenty.

I think the whole cloning thing is morally reprehensible. We are finally at a point where we are playing God. Keeping the cloned animal itself out of the food supply is impossible. Anyone with a street-level understanding of genetics knows that the cloned animal is going to pass hereditary conditions to it’s offspring, including any of the maladies mentioned in the article.

They will more than likely ignore the public opinion on this, and go ahead with cloning animals for food. The least they could do is label the cloned meat appropriately, so the consumer can make their own decision.

Though if they actually did that, all it would probably serve to do is drive up the price of real meat.

Sweet now I can eat a club sandwich with just one “kind” of meat on it.

Well, I don’t like it. I think there should be labels on cloned food. Even if the preliminary testing shows no danger, that doesn’t mean there isn’t any. Drugs are released onto the market all the time that look ok in trials only to show problems once widespread consumption begins. I don’t see the need for it anyhow. Are we really struggling so badly to raise and slaughter enough damn pigs and cows without cloning?

[quote]Cthulhu wrote:

Cloning lets farmers and ranchers make copies of exceptional animals, such as pigs that fatten rapidly or cows that are superior milk producers.

[/quote]

Not a good enough reason. I think we’ve been doing damn well as it is.

Although I’m a science student and I do some work in biotech, I DO NOT like the sound of eating cloned animals at all. I would definitely want cloned meat to be labeled so I could stay away from it.

Is it economically viable to have livestock reproduce through cloning?

If there isn’t genetic engineering involved, it doesn’t make any difference. If you are okay raising and killing animals to eat I don’t see why you wouldn’t raise and kill these animals for eating.

It’s the same thing…

It isn’t like it’s a slab of meat-like product grown in the lab, it’s a new animal which is very much like a previous existing animal. It runs around the farm or sits in its cage or whatever it would normally do.

I think people are just afraid of the word clone.

[quote]jsbrook wrote:
Cthulhu wrote:

Cloning lets farmers and ranchers make copies of exceptional animals, such as pigs that fatten rapidly or cows that are superior milk producers.

Not a good enough reason. I think we’ve been doing damn well as it is.[/quote]

You’re right.
But the FDA never has a good enough reason to put certain foods and drugs on the market.
This is from yahoo news.
I don’t agree with it at all.

[quote]vroom wrote:
If there isn’t genetic engineering involved, it doesn’t make any difference. If you are okay raising and killing animals to eat I don’t see why you wouldn’t raise and kill these animals for eating.

It’s the same thing…

It isn’t like it’s a slab of meat-like product grown in the lab, it’s a new animal which is very much like a previous existing animal. It runs around the farm or sits in its cage or whatever it would normally do.

I think people are just afraid of the word clone.[/quote]

Are you kidding?
I think people just don’t want to be forced to eat complete shit for food.
Consuming cloned animals could pose some danger to your health.
Did you not read the post?

1 Surrogate mothers are treated with high doses of hormones; clones are often born with severely compromised immune systems and frequently receive massive doses of antibiotics. This opens an avenue for large amounts of veterinary pharmaceuticals to enter the human food supply;

2 Imbalances in clones’ hormone, protein, and/or fat levels could compromise the quality and safety of meat and milk;

3 The National Academy of Sciences warned that commercialization of cloned livestock for food production could increase the incidence of food-borne illnesses, such as E. coli infections;

4 Cloning commonly results in high failure rates and defects such as intestinal blockages; diabetes; shortened tendons; deformed feet; weakened immune systems; dysfunctional hearts, brains, livers, and kidneys; respiratory distress; and circulatory problems.
“There is widespread concern among Americans, and scientific concern that cloned food may not be safe and that cloning will increase animal cruelty,” said Mendelson. “We intend to pursue our legal action to compel FDA to address the many unanswered questions around cloned food.”

Are farmers really having that hard of a time getting the animals to procreate? wtf?

I think any food coming from a cloned line ought to be labeled as such, even a few generations into “regular” breeding programs.

Also, why wouldn’t companies want to label cloned food? Is it because a large percentage of the public would NOT want to eat it? Of course… so this is FDA sanctioned FRAUD on consumers. Willfully withholding information that would dissuade a buyer from purchasing the product.

[quote]nephorm wrote:
Also, why wouldn’t companies want to label cloned food? Is it because a large percentage of the public would NOT want to eat it? Of course… so this is FDA sanctioned FRAUD on consumers. Willfully withholding information that would dissuade a buyer from purchasing the product.[/quote]

Indeed.

While I can see the appeal of cloning your superior animals, How much would that up the cost of the meat? It can’t be cheaper than the way they are doing it now, can it?

Plus, since defects are very common, how likely is it you would even get the “same” cow back?

I think the limits of what the human race will do for profit have been well and truly smashed. This is ridiculous. The FDA doesnt exactly have the most amazing track record. God only knows what the effects of cloned animals in the food supply will have. In theory, yes it should be fine. IN THEORY.

The early chemical industry used to dump thousands of tonnes of carcinogens into the environment, because they had no idea what a carcinogen was and in theory it was safe to do so. It was precisely this recklessness that brought to light the potential human health threat posed by such behaviour.

Amazingly even in this day and age where we are educated about the dangers, carcinogens still make it into the environment on a large scale. The perception of danger is limited by our understanding, and history show that leaps in our understanding come from monumental fuck ups.

Take the case of thalidomide, if anyone cares to read about the full story or understands the chemistry behind it, they will know that a simple lack of theoretical understanding was responsible for atrocious birth defects in numerous children. As a result of that, pharmaceutical theory changed drastically and a massive new set of regulations and controls were put in place.

Who knows what the long term effects of consuming food with genetic defects will have on us? Until a study has been done where humans are fed cloned meat for twenty years and show no adverse health effects, how the fuck can any scientist say for certain that its fucking safe for us all to eat? I am not comfortable that we are about to become the guniea pigs for such stupidity. The fact that its driven by profit makes it all the more reprehensible, especially when there are millions of people starving in other countries.

[quote]Lonnie123 wrote:

While I can see the appeal of cloning your superior animals, How much would that up the cost of the meat? It can’t be cheaper than the way they are doing it now, can it?

Plus, since defects are very common, how likely is it you would even get the “same” cow back?[/quote]

I would assume the cost of “cloned goods” would be far less. The real thing will probably sky rocket, just like dirt in waterworld.

[quote]Cthulhu wrote:
Are you kidding?
I think people just don’t want to be forced to eat complete shit for food.
Consuming cloned animals could pose some danger to your health.
Did you not read the post?
[/quote]

I read the post. It’s a bunch of alarmist supposition.

Standard animals are often stuffed full of hormones whether or not their immune systems are compromised. You aren’t describing anything that isn’t already the norm anyway.

Seriously, give it a reread, it raises the specter of concerns without making any case why these animals are different than the original ones. I wouldn’t be supposed if PETA was behind it somehow.

Hell, I’d like it if they did grow meat in a vat, so that we could have our animal protein without having to kill a living breathing beast. In the mean time, throw another steak on the BBQ, because cloning is a means of birth, not some strange new product.

[quote]Moomin wrote:
Who knows what the long term effects of consuming food with genetic defects will have on us?[/quote]

News flash.

Genetic defects are a normal part of nature and the food we eat. Basically, if the animal is viable and lives, whether natural or cloned, we are already eating it.

Come on people, cloning is not introducing chemicals into the food supply, they are already there. Cloning is not introducing hormones into the food supply, they are already there.

If you have moral issues, hell, I won’t argue about that. Make your choices in that regard, but if you want to claim danger, you’ll have to show that there is some type of difference between the cloned and natural animals.

Both types wander around and say Moo from time to time…

Now, something I would worry about, personally, is a slow loss of genetic diversity in our livestock. Eventually, when it gets too inbred, we’ll have livestock that are all mostly susceptible to the same things. Let’s aim for synthetic meat grown in a vat and get past this whole issue entirely.

Mmm, vat culture M25a, tastes just like brown turkey meat. Mmmmm.

[quote]vroom wrote:
but if you want to claim danger, you’ll have to show that there is some type of difference between the cloned and natural animals.
[/quote]

I disagree. The burden of proof is on the companies selling the product. Not that I think they should be prohibited from selling… I just think they should slap on a label.