FDA Even Closer To Allowing Cloned Meat With No Special Labels

We reported Tuesday that the FDA was expected to find in favor of allowing cloned meat and milk from cloned animals to enter the food supply without special labeling. On Thursday the FDA issued the expected statement in favor of cloned meat.

If approved, the ruling would allow for the sale of food made from cloned cattle, pigs and goats, but not sheep. Currently the ban on cloned meat in the marketplace is voluntary. If the ruling is approved, It is unlikely that the FDA will require any sort of special labeling for cloned meat.

FDA is seeking comments from the public on the three documents for the next 90 days. This is your chance to voice your opinion.

To submit electronic comments on the three documents, click here.

Written comments may be sent to:

Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305),
Food and Drug Administration,
5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061,
Rockville, MD, 20852.
Comments must be received by Apr. 2, 2007 and should include the docket number 2003N-0573.

For… or against, let them know what you think. —MEGHANN MARCO

FDA Issues Draft Documents on the Safety of Animal Clones [FDA.gov]

Previously: FDA Expected to OK Cloned Meat


Edit Your Comment

  1. facted says:

    I have no qualms whatsoever with cloned meat. What exactly do we need to be worried about? DNA? You’re eating the same exact product (literally). It’s not like you’re eating poison that need to be used in the cloning process. I’m just not sure where the mass hysteria is coming from.

  2. Chairman-Meow says:

    Ok, can someone tell me the difference between regualr meat and cloned meat?

    Or all are some of us been watching too much sci-fi where eating meat turns us into atomic mutants ?

  3. Jon R. says:

    I have no more problems with eating cloned meat than I would from eating beef from twin cows. Actually, since farmers would choose the best and tastiest of the herd, cloned meat should be consistently yummy.

  4. Hoss says:

    Can anyone explain the economic advantage of cloning livestock? I don’t get it.

  5. We’re already eating genetically modified crops, the damage is done, might as well throw cloned cows onto the mix.

  6. moejuda says:

    As I understand it, they won’t actually be cloning the animals you eat. They would clone top breeding animals, which are extremely valuable for the offspring they produce. This FDA business with cloned meat and milk is probably just a way to make the practice sit better with consumers.

  7. facted says:

    something_amazing: What kind of damage have we done? Without GM crops, we’d have to plant far larger areas of land for the same amount of output and while we may have enough land at the current moment, with the growth of the population in some of the countries which have the least amount of land per person, we simply can’t afford to not use GM crops.

    The only damage that I hear constantly brought up is the fact that the crops may migrate to other fields and take over other types of crops, and since many of these crops are resistant to pesticides, we wouldn’t be able to control them. Otherwise, what other types of “damage” have we done?

    Hossofcourse: I can only assume that by cloning livestock, you may be able to control for cattle that grow faster, or develop larger muscles (meat), etc…

  8. non-meat-stick says:

    How come it’s okay to eat cloned animals, but not clone humans?

  9. facted:

    Woo touched a sore spot eh? ;)

    I’ll tell you exactly what damage is done, we’re creating a system of distribution that relies on the fact that we’ve tampered with something. Tampering that was done for very understandable and practical reasons– but still tampering nonetheless. We humans have a history of deploying and utilizing certain things only to find out 10, 20, or 50 years down the road that we screwed up.

    Just because our understanding is so particularly heightened these days, does it mean that we’ve eradicated all our chances of messing something up for the long term?

    Here’s a completely over the top example of what kind of damage could happen: http://www.exitmundi.nl/gmfood.htm

    Sure, that scenario is fairly unlikely for a number of reasons, but I do sincerely believe that nature is a delicate ecosystem. If we’re breeding super-resistant strains of particular crops away from their innate natural weaknesses, then there will be an affect on some other part of the planet. Maybe it will be negligible, or maybe it could cause a butterfly effect in the nature that we live on this planet.

    A much more believable example of the damage caused by GM crops would be the slow phasing out of crop diversity as more and more farmers adapt to compete in the marketplace. That’s a very real scenario and if “the damage is done” doesn’t whet your palate then perhaps a nicer wording, “no use crying over spilled milk.”

  10. snowferret says:

    Im not sure whats up with this. For starters I would think that it would cost MORE to clone animals than simply breed them. Though from my understanding cloned animals age/mature faster, so I guess that would decrese the tiem it would take from “birth” to turning it into a product. That coudl be an advantage. Im not surprised that there are no risks though. Hmm interesting development…

  11. snowferret says:

    P.S. the long term effects of this could be horendus as some other readers pointed out. A single virus might whipe out all our cattle or some other unforseeable consequence might arise. Though to be honest with all the breeding doen with animals allready we are allready at a stage where our animals are at risk of genetic defects and prone to illness.

  12. Kornkob says:

    It’s my understanding that there are 2 primary objections to the use of cloned animals in food production.

    First is an ethical objection linked to the fact that cloning is as yet an imperfect process and produces a higher than normal number of animals with defects. This results in a higher than normal mortality rate for the results of the cloning process, not infrequently that mortality is painful. The argument is that not cloning is more humane than cloning because the process creates animals that are made to suffer before they are put down.

    The second argument is one that also hinges on the ‘new science is imperfect’ principle. Since the cloning process is imperfect the results of the process actually have a higher incidence of unhealthy animals. Frequently the defect will be hidden (or masked by the antibiotics and other drugs commonly used in our food populations). Their position is, essentially, that the art of cloning is too immature to be safe over the long term. It is my understanding that this objection will be withdrawn once there is more study and the process becomes more reliable and testing has gotten better so that risky animals can be culled.

    Disclosure: The above information comes from my recollection of a discussion I had recently with a grad student at the UW-Madison Animal Sciences department. I am neither an ethicist or a cloning technician. But I am an omnivore who enjoys a nice slab of Elsie with a little shallot salt grilled over oak or seared on a flat grill.

  13. Sheik says:

    Im unsure how to feel about cloning meat. It could be good or bad. But if the practice is adopted there will be a huge decrease in the role of the farmer. This, I feel would be a huge draw back, seeing as most farmers and farming families have already been put out of business by science due to GM crops.

  14. YodaYid says:

    Genetic diversity reduces the chances of disease ravaging livestock. Factory farming has already reduced diversity to an all time low, which is why you things like Mad Cow disease spreading so quickly.

    Cloned meat will make this situation much, much worse, since you can have the possibility of an entire farm with the same genotype. Whatever vulnerabilities one cow has, all the others will have as well. This means that it’s possible that virtually the entire meat supply in America could be contaminated in a very short period of time.

    Animals are not toasters – they shouldn’t produced on an assembly line just because there are meager short term cost savings.

  15. “A single virus might whipe out all our cattle or some other unforseeable consequence might arise.”

    Which was basically the cause of the Irish potato famine. Corn is now so genetically non-diverse that a happy corn virus who makes a tiny (and likely) genetic mutation will be able to destroy ONE-THIRD of the world’s corn crop. Not just of one NATION’S crop, but of the entire WORLD’S crop. (I am told that rye, wheat, and rice are similarly at risk, with risks ranging from 1/5 to 1/2 of world crop.)

    Apples are utterly bathed in pesticides for the same reason; apples are the most heavily-chemicalled food crop in the world. Named apples ARE “cloned” — by grafting — because apples don’t come true from seed. Every Red Delicious is a genetic clone of every other Red Delicious. The apple crop is dominated by six varieties, which are relatively interrelated anyhow, and the apple viruses and bacteria and insect predators are ever-more-resistant to control methods, so the control methods get ever nastier and toxic. (So toxic that even in the 60s apple farmers would send their children and pets off the farm they days they sprayed, and it’s only gotten worse.) Moreover, if a particularly nasty strain of Apple Rust (for example) develops resistance to Apple Rust treatments and races through North America’s apple crops, it’s not only going to destroy that year’s apple crop, it’s ALSO going to destroy flowering crabapples in suburban yards across the nation and possibly even roses (they’re close relative of apples).

    Every gardener knows of a happy little naturally-occurring bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that is an extremely effective insecticide. It’s all over your yard and killing nasty insects as we speak. Gardeners with a pest problem may introduce some extra Bt on purpose. Monsanto has genetically engineered crops to utilize Bt in their defense against insects and Monsanto acknowledges that DUE TO THEIR MODIFICATIONS and the counter-evolutionary modifications to insects that will result, Bt could be ineffective as an insecticide within 15 years, but Monsanto will make enough money in those 15 years for it not to matter (to Monsanto). Monsanto apparently sees no problem with the fact that it’s taken an entire organism out of circulation for the rest of us without ASKING anybody or, you know, telling the United Nations it’s going to make worldwide crops suceptible to insects by removing a natural control mechanism that’s worked quite well for over 10,000 years.

    THAT’S what should scare you about GM crops. Monsanto is greedy and unethical; therefore my home garden, your lawn, and third-world farmers worldwide who won’t be able to afford Monsanto’s new-and-improved post-Bt insecticides will be destroyed.

    I’m actually less-worried about cloned animals (other than ethical concerns about living creatures); but genetically modified crops are scary shit and they’re NOT receiving the society-wide review and referenda such massive changes in the life of our planet — and the safety of our food supply — should receive.

  16. Fuzzy_duffel_bag says:

    I eat hot dogs, so I’m in no position to complain

  17. YodaYid says:

    Cloning destroys the natural genetic diversity of animals. That means that if a whole farm has one genotype of cow, then a virus that can kill one cow will kill all of them. It’s not far-fetched to imagine that the entire country’s meat supply might be contaminated or destroyed in a very short period of time due to the fact that the cows are all equally vulnerable to the same things. Think Mad Cow times 1000.

    Animals are not toasters – there needs to be variation and individuality.

  18. pronell says:

    And on top of _everything_ else, this is about the FDA letting them sell us something and not tell us what it is. It sounds like we’re maybe two questionable decisions away from Monsanto being able to grow a genetically modified crop that drifts on its own, able to extract money from farmers whose land the crop drifts to, and then able to sell it to consumers without notifying them what it really is.

    Most of this has already happened with the New Leaf potato. The FDA classified it as a PESTICIDE, not a FOOD. This, of course, does not mean it cannot be SOLD as a food, just that the FDA saw no need to regulate it. Soon, McDonalds was using them.

  19. Trai_Dep says:

    There’s also the unintended costs of moving to mono-culture strains of animals and crops. Factory farming requires hormones, antibiotics, organic pollution and other regimes compared to traditional methods. It results in putting vast tracts of people at risk of infection to micro-organisms that before were limited to only scores of people. It results in kids getting hormones, toxins and antibiotics in their diet.

    In the past dozen years, it’s become hazardous to eat medium-rare meat. That’s WHACKED.

    Factory farming doesn’t make economic sense without these regimes which have unintended (or careless) consequences.

    I wonder which specific regimes cloned meat will require. But I’m certain it will have unintended (or careless) consequences.

  20. Trai_Dep says:

    Further, what’s with the No Labeling? If producers are confident of their innovation, they should show us why it benefits US. Then let the market decide.

    It’s extremely consumer hostile to withhold this information and insulting that – by law – block consumers from making their own informed choice.

  21. facted says:

    I think we should all agree to disagree. Everyone has their viewpoint and we’re not going to change each other’s minds. Personally, I like to go by science and what’s happening now and what we know now rather than think about crazy scenarios in the future which may or may not happen. You clearly have to think about scenarios in the future if there is evidence that they may happen, but that’s not what we have now and people are just freaked out because we’re “tinkering” with nature.

    News flash: We’ve been tinkering for a long time…since Mendel discovered genetics in the 1600’s and crossed his pea-pods to produce certain characteristics. We already cross specific animals and different strains of things to get rid of “imperfections”. This is just another trick in the arsenal. That’s just my two cents and I respect other people’s decision to avoid GM products as they choose.

  22. “I think we should all agree to disagree.”

    Dude, I’m not going to agree to disagree on something that could cause a worldwide famine or threaten our future food supply. I’m going to get real wound up about that. I like eating. And not dying.

  23. facted says:

    Eyebrows: You think that it could cause a worldwide famine and threaten our future food supply. I do not. Until people provide evidence of this happening instead of just fear-mongering and conjuring up scenarios of what if’s without any evidence, then I’m going to stick to my line of thinking. I know that this will not change your mind, but then again, that’s why I said we should all just agree to disagree ;) If you don’t like GM products, vote with your pocketbook and don’t buy those items.

  24. “Until people provide evidence of this happening”

    Three words: Irish. Potato. Famine.

    Inadequate genetic diversity in a major food crop felled the entire crop to a single potato fungus.

    The Irish, of course, suffered from having just one TYPE of potato. If they’d had only one GENETIC potato, all exactly the same, it would have been even more disastrous.

    Ecologists, botanists, biologists, and other food-related scientists (there’s your science) have been warning since the 70s about inadequate genetic diversity in worldwide crops. A crop sickness today like the Irish potato blight could fell, say, 1/3 of the world’s corn, or 1/2 of the world’s rice, in a single blow. Mass famine. Worldwide starvation. And with better transportation, it probably wouldn’t be localized to a single country, island, or continent.

    If you take away even the little genetic diversity our crops — or cows — have left, and make them all genetic copies, it’s ever so much easier for the viri, fungi, and bacteria to evolve to take advantage of that — and it’s literally impossible for the crops (or cows) to evolve to fight back.

    You can decide that you don’t find cloned meat creepy. That’s fine. I’m not really all that creeped out by it myself. But you can’t cite science and then say we should “agree to disagree” about the danger of the cloning of food sources.

    The danger is scientifically — and historically — well-established. You can disagree with if you want, but you will be wrong.

  25. “Until people provide evidence of this happening”

    Oh, and upthread I talked about a major current example: Apples. We’ve been experimenting with that particular type of cloning since … well, since humans learned how to graft. I have an apple tree that is a genetic clone of an apple tree from circa 1200 in England.

    The danger isn’t in the cloning per se. The danger is in the commercialization of the cloning (or breeding, even) that limits the gene pool to a small handful of genetic possibilities.

    My 1200s apple tree is pretty disease-resistant, because it’s the only White Pearmain ’round these parts. A Red Delicious — a comparatively modern apple, dating only to 1868 — on the other hand, is grown by the hundreds of thousands of genetically identical trees. There are billions upon billions upon billions of apple-preying bacteria, viri, fungi, etc., working day in and day out to breach the defenses of the Red Delicious in orchards across the continent. Only one of them has to hit the right combination, and then that little buggie can wipe out the entire Red Delicious population.

    The few million working on my White Pearmain have a much lesser chance simply by reason of statistics. And if they do manage to kill my White Pearmain, while there are hundreds of thousands of Red Deliciouses nearby the other Red Deliciouses, there probably isn’t another White Pearmain near enough for my opportunistic and successful buggie to get to, and certainly not enough of them to sustain an epidemic.

    Just because you don’t understand crop science is no reason to disagree with it.

  26. Kromem says:

    cutting corners on food production is bad news. mad cow is a protein prion disorder resulting from feeding cows the trash parts (specifically brain) of other cows. And what a lovely disease that is – takes up to 10 years to become symptomatic.

    for those saying “who cares,” i’d like to be able to pass on eating cloned animals for at least a decade after you eat it. want to clone the cow? go ahead. just label it so i can not buy it.