Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Cloned food and milk
by Tim Langmaid
Medical News Managing Editor

The FDA says it's safe to eat cloned meat and drink milk from cloned cows. What I find interesting is that no matter what the FDA or any other public or private agency says about edibles from cloned animals, ultimately it will be you, the consumer, who determines the success or failure of cloned food in the marketplace.

The FDA has given the green light to sell offspring of certain cloned animals (since it can cost more than $20,000 to clone an animal, clones will likely be used for breeding purposes only). However, the USDA is still asking farmers not to sell offspring of clones voluntarily so the public, retailers and other countries who buy U.S. meat can get used to the idea of consuming food from clones.

But in about three to five years, meat from cloned cattle, pigs and goats (and a few other animals) and milk from cloned cows could begin showing up in supermarkets. These items will be indistinguishable from traditionally produced meat. The FDA says it'll be safe. Some scientists agree. Other groups, like the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Consumer Federation of America, think more studies on cloned food must be done.

Where do you sit on the cloned food debate? Will you buy food from cloned animals when it becomes available? Why or why not?

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.
I am troubled that Americans are so blind to what is in our food already. I make a point to buy antibiotic and hormone free dairy and meat,and non-GMO grains, because I believe that these things are harming the health of Americans, and my family shouldn't be lab rats! Isn't the link between GMO and hormone additives and obesity, asthma, allergies, etc., quite clear? Maybe it's time to leave the food supply alone - invest our time and energy in curing cancer and ending world hunger.
Scientifically speaking, a cloned animal is identical to the animal it was created from. So, I hold no 'beef' with consuming meat or dairy products from clones.
From Darwin to Watson-Crick and others, we’ve known that the genetic profile of all species change, sometimes after changes in climate, broad threats of infection, etc..

Eating cloned meat is fine, until a future date when the genotype being used would no longer keep natural cattle (etc.) in good health. That could lead to health problems for the consumer.

This may be a matter of decades or centuries, but if we launch consumption of cloned meat we should do it right, with laws and industry practices that keep the genotype up to date. This could be done by requiring the use of newly-cloned animals every few years.

Second, would it really taste the same? Would it have the same cooking properties?

Third, why bother cloning at all? Our stores have never run out of meat, milk, etc.. Who will profit from the sale of cloned products?
I have undergone a major change in my eating habits. I have gone from "anything goes" to eating mainly vegetarian with a little seafood thrown in. The only meat I eat is bison and they aren't cloning that. So it won't affect me, but I won't buy it for my kids or husband. Too many unknowns and the market place is more than willing to try new stuff out on us and see what happens. I am not up for that.
Oh, yea -- let's clone away. Forget genetic diversity. When (not if) that "bug" comes along and wipes out all our cloned livestock, then we can all go vegetarian.

Wait a minute --- aren't we headed down the same road with our crops? Doh!
I have two issues maybe stemming from lack of information.

Firstly, wouldn't cloned animals have the DNA that has been damaged by normal aging of the original animal? Cumulative damage might have something we don't know about. I seem to recall this was a concern in the past.

Secondly, I don't understand what is the advantage over selective breeding and sexual births. Wouldn't these older techniques protect breeds of domestsic animals from difficulties that we may not even notice?
Whenever I read about well meaning people who are wildly indigent I usually find I am dealing with someone who is long on emotion-but short on knowledge--what I want to communicate is that for about fifty years essentially ALL the fruit these folks--(and you too)--have put in their mouths is CLONED. All that good, healthy, delicious fruit--CLONED--don't believe me? google cloned fruit. And before you say "those are just plants" you should know that the biochemistry of a plant is MUCH more complex than the biochemistry of animals--you try snaring some sunshine and turning it into sugar.
Stan Kerns
Vulnerability to disease and defect due to the lack of genetic diversity is already a potential hazard in industrial farming. Why continue down that path? Viva la difference!
I concur with everyone. Let's just get back to the way food was produced many years ago. Let the livestock feed in the pastures on grass and let them fatten up by a natural process. No cloning or artificially producing meat or dairy. But for gosh sakes, if for some reason we the consumer has to be exposed to this kind of nonsense in our food supply, please please let us be informed so that we can avoid it if we chose to eat healthy. Why is it always about the almighty dollar and not about the health of the American people? Let's spend our tax dollars not just finding cures for diseases, but more importantly, finding out to prevent diseases in the first place -- by starting with a healthy diet and a health environment!!!
have we really gone that hungry that we have to clone our food?????????? i have a 2 year old who i have troubLe feeding already because of whats in our food already. thank God she doesnt like meat already.why doesnt the government give farmers more resourses to breed their animals???????????.people wake up this all about someone pocket as far as im all the research done and since when have we had faith in our FDA?????????why dont we wake up and protect ourselves and our children and our future .
It is extremely hard to believe that cloned meat is safe when cold medicine that has been used for years is now deemed as unsafe! And do we really have a shortage of naturally produced meat (animals)?? Why not take this money spent on cloning animals and allocate it to a much bigger problem in the world such as cancer because after all, new science could be the reason for the increase in cancer. New science could prove to be more threatening than beneficial in years to come, its exciting to think about the possibilities but is it worth putting our health at risk and possibly altering the genetics of the human body???
AMERICA WAKE UP!!! This is just another way to pollute our bodies and health. I'm a Christian who follows the teaching of GOD. I beleive if GOD didn't provide it... then leave it alone. My family and I consume meat and milk on a daily basis. However, since we cannot trust the FDA as to what is being offered in the grocery store, we will become strictly vegetarians.
I think the FDA is again pushing off a fast byproduct to increase the market spending for the economy. Just as the article suggest, cloned animals and there offspring have not been around long enough to determine the effects that they have on human bodies. I think it will be unfair to shove some more of the "systems" ideas down our throat. (literally) I would like to refuse them from allowing such an event to use clone animals in any sort of human consumption. Like all the crazy medicines that are approved by the FDA; like Vitorin; I would hate to imagine that a couple years away from consuming animals from clones, people end up with some crazy, incurable disease or contract some deathly symptoms. Obviously, if something like this is inevitable, I wish they could at least give people like myself the heads up so I can become vegetarian or even vegan.
A cloned animal is genetically identical to its parent.

Eating a steak from cloned cattle is identical to eating steak from a conventional cattle.

It is not the same a genetically modified foods, which are, er, genetically modified.

Part of the problem is that it is difficult to educate consumers on these issues. The fact that most Americans believe they have never eaten a genetically modified food illustrates their lack of information (processed foods often have genetically modified ingredients).

The fact that something like 45% of people don't know how long it takes for the earth to orbit the sun illustrates just how difficult educating them will be.
Wouldn't the meat cost more since they have to first clone for thousands of dollars than sell it for moremoney than to get profit thansell at a store where they can charge any price?
Just read part of an article today in NEJM about the FDA possibly using selective publications to influence their decisions. My trust in the FDA was already very limited. The FDA also will not allow the cloned product/offspring of cloned product to be labeled for the consumer. However, the producers of non-cloned products can label their meat and dairy. I hope they do. On a fixed income I buy little meat. Though I do realize that I currently eat fruit, vegetables and grains that have been altered in some way I never really had a choice. I wish not to eat the meat and dairy altered. It is unfortunate that some farm animals are already injected with substances to produce more, keep free of disease, or reproduce. Organic products are too expensive for my budget, plus when I buy processed food I do not know if the company uses altered ingredients or not. And there are many substances that are added to preserve foods that I have no idea what they are or how they effect my health. Yet, there are way too many health problems that exist today of unknown origins. So I would rather not eat cloned meat and dairy, but in this society I may not have any choice.
I think food sources from cloned animals should be labeled as such. I'm not as much concerned about food safety as the fact that genetic diversity is a safeguard for our agricultural system. I choose make purchases that support sustainable farming, and would therefore appreciate knowing where my food comes from.
So 45% of us don't know how long it takes for the Earth to rotate the Sun. For those of us who are intelligent enough to understand the repercussions of cloned meat, the information should be made readily available.

Unless this has changed since my last science class, cloned cells are as old at birth as the cells of the parent animal. So, a cloned cow would have older cells, thus making it more susceptible to certain diseases, such as cancer.

I would like to see the FDA require a packaging label that says the meat is from a cloned animal, just like there is packaging on meat telling us that it was not raised with horomones and anitbiotics.
I just don't understand the point. Why should we spend $20,000 per animal to create something we haven't yet proven safe when we can just naturally breed animals for free? It makes NO SENSE. Why must nature be taken out of every process? Why must every step in our food production have so many unnecessary extra steps? It costs more, it takes more time, and it makes the food less natural (and therefore less healthy). It's no longer enough for us to let cows and bulls simply breed? You know, that free action that creates MORE cows and bulls?! Why must we clone animals at all? It's absolutely pointless! Instead of wasting all that money on cloned animals, why don't we spend it on school lunch menus (and take away the fast food), why don't we spend it on diet education in schools, why don't we spend it on preventative health care? I am so dissapointed that the food industry is headed down this path. And I'm dissapointed in the FDA, as well!
Although they are not cloned cattle, both dairy and beef, are typically products of artificial insemination. This has been a boon to the Dairy industry as the charateristics of a champion bull can give rise to thousands of offspring-producing superior herds quicker than the old way.
What about the unknown scientific ramifications of cloned beef cows etc in the foodchain?
Can an animal with mad cow disease be cloned by mistake? Are the disease carrier prions part of the genetic code of an animal, or will they be in the future?
Are unknown genetic defects when cloned result in food not fit for human consumption?
If the meat industry labels which meats come from cloned animals I will avoid purchasing and consuming meat from cloned animals. If they don't label it, I will avoid purchasing meats altogether. I don't care if they haven't proved anything wrong with it. There is no advantage to the consumer and the idea is disgusting.
Proponents cite better quality as the chief reason for cloning. Is the genetic quality of normal livestock so poor that only certain specimens should be chosen for cloning? Are prize winning specimens necessarily better to eat? I have always been under the impression that the quality of normal quality livestock lies primarily in the way that livestock are raised, including the food that they eat along the way. The appearance of higher quality sounds like an excuse to lower front end food costs. Can cattle be genetically manipulated to grow up faster, thereby reducing feed expenses and make the time to market shorter? Since cloning has been given a green light by the FDA, are the cloning agencies free to work with altering the genetics of the livestock in order to “improve the breed”? What stops the labs from tinkering with genetics? Does “improving the breed” by toying with genetics present risks to the consumer? We embark on a slippery slope with the expectation of increased profits and power for the food industry at great cost to the consumer.
I see that Henry explains on its Spot that there is no risk for this food, but i wont eat cloned meat fo sure!
I feel we are headed down a wrong direction in this country. We already as a nation have health issues related to the food we consume from the quantity to the quality. We are only creating more health and enviromental issues for ourselves and generations ahead of us. Why do we need to clone meat or dairy? Are we as consumer going to know the difference between the natural way verses cloned products in the supermarket? It is time we need to open our eyes and wake up. What are we doing to ourselves through greed and over consumption?
There is no difference in eating meat or drinking milk from a cloned animal than eating fruits or vegetables you buy at the store.These things have not hurt us for the past 20 years, so what difference does it make now?
If I've read the information correctly, the cloned animals will be used as a method of reproducing desirable animals with the goal of improving various species as a whole. So while in the immediate future, people will not be eating the clones, they may be using the by-products, such as offspring or milk. Yeah, okay...
I have to say, I do not trust the FDA to make educated decisions regarding the food supply, so I am a vegan who buys as much local produce as I can. My personal experience with development and breeding of animals is limited to horses, but I can offer some observations. Many breeders have used similar reasonings in the past for using one particular stallion. The reasoning is that he carries desired traits, so he is bred to "aggressively promote his genes." In other words, to use this stallion to breed for offspring as much as possible. Trouble is, genetic integrity doesen't always work out a few generations down the line. As a result, many different breeds of horses have experienced some long term consequences for continuing to promote one genetic trail over another. Different diseases and chronic conditions have occurred as a result of keeping a relatively few genetic lines actively promoted and viable.
Perhaps I'm comparing apples to oranges, as I really haven't gone to the FDA website to see if I can get the scientific report of what they are planning to do. But it does concern me that so many people are assuming that a clone is "exactly" the same as the original. Does the genetic structure keep its integrity the further down the line a clone is bred? I know if I make a photocopy of a document, then a copy of the copy, I eventually get a distorted copy with lots of lines and blurred words. Is there a comparison with cloning? Or does that even apply, perhaps if someone is nuts enough to clone a clone?
Would be interesting to know.
I would definately eat cloned meat.

A cloned animal is not a disease-ridden mutant, but an exact genetic replica of the original animal. I think people simply do not understand what cloning is and are scared of it. The meat is exactly the same!

I am more worry about chemicals in the cows' feed or on our vegetables. These actually pose a health risk to humans that has been shown.

I just imagine some low-educated person complaining about how cloned meat "hurts their children," all while she drives around endlessly in an SUV, fails to recycle household items, places fertilizer on the yard, and feeds her family fried foods. Which is more detrimental to the health of children and of our planet?

Wake up people!
The author said: "What I find interesting is that no matter what the FDA or any other public or private agency says about edibles from cloned animals, ultimately it will be you, the consumer, who determines the success or failure of cloned food in the marketplace." What I find interesting is that none of these "altered" foods will be labeled as such so the consumer won't be able know whether they're eating real or imitation food. (How will we be able to make the determination???) The author was correct: "These items will be indistinguishable from traditionally produced meat." That's correct; so there will be no tracability to the altered food when problems arise; by design....
I also strongly believe food from cloned animals should be labeled just as organic foods are. Its not fair to the public to just put them in the market and make them pass off as if they are "regular" food products. Wouldnt You think this is almost like a form of fraud by the goverment because they are not exposing the truth of the orgin of the food. I think this is why we have all the health issues in the world especially the us. First it was the antiboitics in meats (I wonder why young kids grow up so big, and young girls are looking alot older than they really are. Point blake the food needs to be lables, so I guess i will have no choice but to grown my own food in my garden and buy organic labled products which will cause several to be more broke due to the cost of these foods, compared to the chemically enhanced foods that are availble at the local grocer. No to CLONE FOOD, ITS RELLY NOT COOL.
When will man leave mother nature alone? Cloned meat? I wouldn't eat that stuff if it was the last food on earth. Just like those hybrid fruits I see at the market. What the hell is a "craizin"? Sheesh...I'll stick to natural, and I mean 100% natural foods, thank you. No cloned or otherwise modified food for me. Ever.
Its my understanding that the FDA isn't requiring lables for the cloned meat or milk products, so the consumer will not know if the meat or milk they are buying is from cloned animals or not. I have a problem with that.
This cloning thing is scary. I don't want to eat it. I think it is unfair to the americans that these foods don't have to be labeled. We live off of animal by products and it's ungodly that these foods could utimately be deadly to us. And human cloning for reproductive purposes!!! People think would you really want your kid to be a carbon copy of you??? Think about this, if you were unfertile and made a child clone of yourself that child would be unfertile too so your child would have to clone too and it would be a never ending cycle of cloning. The info I just learned about the cells being as old as the donor that means everything would die prematurely. I never thought the world would come to this but unfortunatle it's not just in the movies IT'S REAL. The only thing we have left to do is PRAY.
Cloning does not produce an exact replica every single time... think Dolly the sheep.

It's bad enough that we have cattle injected with bovine growth hormone and preservatives in everything ~~~ I'm not even going to get into the artificial sweeteners debate! And people wonder why young girls are maturing so much quicker & America is so fat??

After gaining a lot of weight, I decided to stop eating Frankenstein food and lost weight rather quickly. I will not be eating the cloned foods - no matter how "safe" the FDA says it is.
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends -- info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.
CNN Comment Policy: CNN encourages you to add a comment to this discussion. You may not post any unlawful, threatening, libelous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic or other material that would violate the law. Please note that CNN makes reasonable efforts to review all comments prior to posting and CNN may edit comments for clarity or to keep out questionable or off-topic material. All comments should be relevant to the post and remain respectful of other authors and commenters. By submitting your comment, you hereby give CNN the right, but not the obligation, to post, air, edit, exhibit, telecast, cablecast, webcast, re-use, publish, reproduce, use, license, print, distribute or otherwise use your comment(s) and accompanying personal identifying information via all forms of media now known or hereafter devised, worldwide, in perpetuity. CNN Privacy Statement.