My morning started off with me checking my Facebook, and a local farmer posted a link to a news article from 2003 on research of cloned animals in the meat industry. This caught my attention. I knew there were serious issues with the meat industry in the U.S. But, never had cloning crossed my mind. I soon began doing further research and reading other articles on both sides of this topic. Quite frankly, I am deeply disturbed by this information. Here is a compilation of research I have found so far on this subject. I will list the websites from which this information came at the end of this document.
“Are You Eating Cloned Meat”-This article describes the many aspects of the cloned meat industry. The history of cloning animals began with the first cloned tadpole in 1952. In 1996 Scotland successfully cloned a sheep named Dolly from adult DNA. Though according to another article, “Clone on the Range”- “Dolly died from lung disease in 2003. By then, the hysteria and hype had faded and cloning had largely disappeared from the headlines. In the scientific world, however, the quest to perfect the techniques, and to profit from it, was just getting started.” The patents used by a Scottish biotech company to clone Dolly were then sold to ViaGen in 2003. Here is a chart trying to explain cloning:
The FDA’s stance in 2001 was to not allow cloned meat into the food supply. However, in 2006 the FDA stated that they did not find any dangers in cloned meat, but they asked manufacturers not to introduce into the markets just yet, though this was never enforced or regulated. Therefore the milk and other byproducts from cloned or genetically engineered animals could have been sold as far back as 2006. The FDA just looked at cloning as a “breeding option rather than food for the market option”. Their “studies” was on a “well it looks the same as normal bred animal meat, therefore it should be the same strategy”. In 2008, the FDA released a statement that the food from cloned cattle, swine, and goats were safe and would not require labeling. Of course, the biotech and meat industries are against labeling it, because it will “cause undo concern for consumers”. Arguments against labeling have also been the cost it would take to identify and track cloned animal sources. But is it really unnecessary concern?
The Center for Food Safety argued against the decision of not labeling cloned food sources. The FDA in return released a 678 page risk assessment stating that “meat and milk from clones of cattle, swine, goats, and the offspring of clones from any species traditionally consumed as food, are as safe to eat as food from conventionally bred animals”. I thoroughly agree with a quote from one article, “Essentially the government is being dominated by the very industries that they are meant to be regulating.” The EGE-European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies studied the cloning of animals and found that “fewer than 5% of cloned fetuses live long enough to be born; roughly 20% of new born clones don’t survive the first 24 hours, and an additional 15% die before weaning.” In the cases of cows and sheep should the clone actually be born there is a very high risk of “large offspring syndrome” in which the animal may be born with extremely large organs, malformed limbs, and dysfunctional immune systems. There have also been cases reported that cloned and genetically engineered animals have been born inside out. There are other concerns that cloned and GE (genetically engineered) animals bring to the table, literally-no pun intended. “The National Research Council noted there other areas of food safety risks stemming from GE animals:
- Introduction of new allergens into the food system
- Continuation of bioactive proteins after digestion
- Creation of potentially toxic effects from novel protein expression”
The article “Clone on the Range” I found the most disturbing. This article gives a little bit of the history of cloning animals, but mainly focuses on ViaGen which is an Austin, TX based company that clones animals and holds animal DNA for future cloning. Their ambition is to be the foremost provider of cloned livestock for food. “The company claims it clones the hardiest breading stock in the industry”.
I think the people in the cloning industry truly believe this meat is safe. The owner of ViaGen has his own ranch in which he has his own batch of cloned cows from one prize winning cow. He says, “They’re just cows. A bunch of people are afraid of them being in the food chain, but they’re just cows. I wouldn’t be afraid to eat one” –Gene Bruner. Then later though in the same article Brian Bruner even admits “that his cloned cows do sometimes unnerve him”. He states, “When we go to vaccinate them, they all go to the exact same part of the chute as 248 (original cow) did. They act the same and are afraid of needles just like she was. It is kind of eerie”.
So, in conclusion, do we eat cloned meat? -Probably not because the cost to clone an animal right now is so high. However, and a BIG HOWEVER, we do probably consume a cloned animals offspring or the cloned offspring’s byproducts such as milk, butter, etc! There is also no way of knowing in the mass produced industry of meat if that meat was from a cloned animal. As I said before, cloned animal’s offspring and byproducts could have been introduced into our food sources as early as 2006. Though, you may not be eating meat that came directly from a cloned animal (though you could since there are no regulations and after the cloned animal has served its purpose for breeding it is usually slaughtered with the rest of the animals), if you don’t eat certified organic meat and byproducts, you most certainly have eaten products from a cloned animal’s offspring.
Do we really know where our food is coming from? I don’t know about you, but I was deeply disturbed after doing research on this topic. There is a whole bunch more aspects about this also concerning the more than 7 different growth hormones that are used in our meat, as well as the fact that antibiotics are overused in our meat sources as well. But, I could be writing here for days and days about the disturbing facts involved in America’s food industry.
I had watched the famous movie “Food, Inc”. Which, yes is disturbing, and yes you should watch, but not nearly as disturbing as the fact that we have no idea how much of our meat and byproducts come from cloned and genetically engineered animals. This information certainly will spawn research into local farmers markets and the difference in pricing of organic vs. non-organic/who knows what the heck it is.
I was so moved by these articles I felt the need to share this information with you. As for me, I am now looking into local and organic options. I do not want to know what the repercussions of this will be in the next 20 years from eating these meats and byproducts.
Here are the links to the articles I found: