During this past holiday season the FDA released a formal recommendation to allow meat and milk from cloned animals to appear on grocery shelves. But there WILL NOT be any identifying labels. In other words, when you eat conventionally raised meat and milk you won't know if it's from a cloned animal or not.
Clones are created by taking single cells from animals, growing the cell into an embryo in a laboratory, and then transferring the embryo to the womb of a surrogate mother animal. Cloning results in extremely high failure rates from deaths and gross abnormalities, so much so that scientists speak of a "cloning syndrome". It inflicts massive deaths, suffering and distress, not only to the cloned fetuses and the calves throughout gestation, at and after birth, but also to the surrogate mothers. Surrogate mothers frequently die from difficult delivery unless medical intervention is given, and their health is seriously compromised by gross malformations of the fetuses.
One of the promotional sound bites for cloning has been that it will allow for the reproduction of animal 'elites'-animals that are especially healthy and carry desirable characteristics-flavorful meat, high nutritional content, etc. In reality this is a PR smokescreen. The real intent behind cloning is to facilitate the duplication of genetically modified animals (GM). GM animals are usually sterile and their offspring lose the 'modified' genes that were introduced. Cloning is one way of overcoming this obstacle.
The FDA has asked producers to voluntarily keep clones away from the food supply. This should work really well to protect us. Cloning in North America in the 1980s and 1990s produced approximately 1,200-1,500 cows and bulls. Most of these cloned beef and dairy cattle were used for human food consumption with no public knowledge or regulatory review. More than 660,000 pounds of meat and more than 520,000 gallons of milk from cloned cattle have already entered the food supply. This was after the FDA requested industry in 2001 to "voluntarily refrain from introducing food and feed from animal clones and their progeny into commerce". I don't expect 'industry' to pay any more attention to this request now then they did before.
According to Caren Wilcox, who heads the Organic Trade Association, organic certification of animal or dairy foods expressly prohibits use of cloned animal ingredients. The organic label from true organic food companies may be the surest way to limit your exposure to these foods. In a September 2006 poll by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology, 64 percent said they were uncomfortable with animal cloning. Senator Barbara Mikulski, Democrat from Maryland, has introduced legislation to require this note on packages: "This product is from a cloned animal or its progeny." But the FDA says that labels are not needed. In other words, minority rules. The Food Industry and its main supporter, the FDA, have determined that you don't need to know what you're eating.
What do you think?
Tell The FDA: No Food From Cloned Animals. Sign the Center for Food Safety Petition http://ga3.org/campaign/Cloning
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