Oct
23
2006

Washington Post reports FDA close to approving the sale of milk and meat from cloned animals

According to recent Washington Post articles, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is close to approving the sale of milk and meat from cloned animals, perhaps by the end of this year. Stephen F. Sundlof, the FDA's chief of veterinary medicine, was quoted: "Our evaluation is that the food from cloned animals is as safe as the food we eat every day." However, this pending approval has drawn criticism from both consumer and certain religious groups. The potential approval was a topic at a Washington conference sponsored by Michigan State University and the nonpartisan Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology. Speakers with expertise in biology, philosophy, ethics, and theology said that scientists must be part of an "implicit social compact" to use ethical means to solve societal problems. Paul Thompson, W.K. Kellogg Endowed Chair in Food, Agricultural, and Community Ethics at MSU, provided an overview of animal ethics to conference participants. Besides the impending authorization of cloned milk and meat, the topic of whether these products will carry a label designating them as such is an issue of current debate. Barb Glenn of the Biotechnology Industry Organization was quoted in another Post article:

"We feel like the average consumer is going to accept this technology as we move forward. There will not be a label that will indicate this is anything other than healthy meat and milk."

To view the Post articles, see the links below. (You may have to register with the Post to view them.)
What do you think of cloned milk or meat? Would you buy these products? Should they be labeled as originating from cloned animals?
"Religion a prominent cloned-food issue"
"FDA set to approve milk, meat from clones"
"FDA move on cloned food alarms groups"

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Liza's picture
Liza says:

Well, I admit I don't know much about this issue, but two thoughts spring immediately to mind:

1) Cloning, at least right now, is really expensive. Are any large-scale food operations really considering a move to cloned animals in the near future? I guess, in light of all the consternation around "frankenfoods," it's good to have public discussion before the introduction of cloned foods to the mass market instead of after, but it just seems like jumping the gun a bit.

2) Second, it's not like cloned animals are transgenics. No one is talking about combining, say, genes from a tomato and genes from a cow. We're still just talking about cows. And we're not even talking about cows that have been given artificial hormones or antibiotics. Aren't cloned animals just, genetically anyway, "twins" to the animal they're cloned from?

I probably wouldn't seek out milk or meat from cloned animals. (I don't know why that is; I certainly don't have any well-reasoned argument.) But I also don't think I'd pay extra to avoid cloned milk or meat. If it's true that the proteins from milk or meat from cloned animals is indistinguishable from the proteins from regular animals, I don't think it should have to be labeled differently. Since it's not transgenic, there shouldn't be any allergy issues. Why else would you need to know?

posted on Mon, 10/23/2006 - 1:56pm
Paul Thompson at MSU's picture
Paul Thompson at MSU says:

The Washington Post articles note that industry is indeed poised to use cloning for their breeding stock, but not for day to day reproduction. They also note that some people do not want to eat meat or milk from cloned animals or their progeny for religious or political reasons. The First Amendment protects our right to express religious or political values in our speech, but not in our choice of what we eat. Current US policy holds that labels must be supported by science. Even "does not contain" labels can be found to be deceptive or misleading if FDA decides that a they imply a health benefit that is not supported by science.

posted on Tue, 10/24/2006 - 4:18pm
bryan kennedy's picture

I could see a situation where a new labeling system similar to 'parve' or 'kosher' could develop out of consumer interest. Kosher doesn't imply any sort of scientific benefit but does assume a set of practices that have been applied to the food production. Couldn't another distinction describe food produced without cloning.

Personally I couldn't care less. Cloning is the least of our worries when we have factory farms that can't figure out where e. coli gets into spinach.

posted on Wed, 10/25/2006 - 10:49am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

The largest US distributor of dairy products (Dean Foods Co., which owns LandOLakes and Horizon) has announced that even if milk from cloned animals becomes a commercial reality, they will not be selling it.

Dean Foods says they are responding to their customers.

According to the AP:

"A September poll by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology found that 64 percent of respondents were uncomfortable with animal cloning. And a December poll by the University of Maryland found that the same percentage would buy, or consider buying, such food if the government said it was safe."

posted on Fri, 02/23/2007 - 5:18pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Consuming products from clonned animals is not my top concern if it is identical to that of unclonned animals what is the difference. The problem is what effects will the cloning have on the species, meaning could it cause new diseases that could wipe out the species or is the whole idea inhumane becuase clonned animals tend not to live as long and there are more miscarriages or offspring that die soon after birth compared to natural reproduction.

posted on Fri, 02/23/2007 - 7:24pm
Lilliana Posster's picture
Lilliana Posster says:

i find all of this very disturbing

posted on Sat, 02/24/2007 - 2:38pm

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