Shocking News: Activists Oppose Meat from Cloned Farm Animals and Their Progeny

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Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal published an article under the headline "Animal Clones' Offspring Are in Food Supply." Why is this news? After all, in January the FDA ruled on the basis of the scientific evidence that

…meat and milk from clones of cattle, swine, and goats, and the offspring of clones from any species traditionally consumed as food, are as safe to eat as food from conventionally bred animals…

The agency is not requiring labeling or any other additional measures for food from cattle, swine, and goat clones, or their offspring because food derived from these sources is no different from food derived from conventionally bred animals. Should a producer express a desire for voluntary labeling (e.g., "this product is clone-free"), it will be considered on a case-by-case basis to ensure compliance with statutory requirements that labeling be truthful and not misleading…

Because clones would be used for breeding, they would not be expected to enter the food supply in any significant number. Instead, their sexually reproduced offspring would be used for producing meat and milk for the marketplace…

An animal clone is a genetic copy of a donor animal, similar to an identical twin, but born at a different time. Cloning is not the same as genetic engineering, which involves altering, adding or deleting DNA; cloning does not change the gene sequence.

Evidently, the Journal story is that neo-Luddite activists are opposing food from cloned animals and their progeny. Must have been a very slow news day. What new (or even old) technology doesn't attract a coterie of "concerned" opponents nowadays? Of course, the Journal asks a mother for her scientific evaluation of the safety of meat and milk from the progeny of cloned animals:

"As a mom of two young children, it makes me very uneasy, very nervous that these things are in the food supply," said Alexis Joyce, a 35-year-old homemaker in Arlington, Va., who shops mostly at farmers' markets. "It just doesn't feel right."

Two leading anti-biotech groups, the Center for Food Safety (the bastard child, uh, spinoff of the deeply neo-Luddite International Center for Technology Assessment) and Friends of the Earth, sent around a press release today (press release not yet available on their websites) crowing that they had helped frightened

…20 of America's leading food producers and retailers [into stating] that they will not use cloned animals in their food.

Sigh. I do note that the activists' press release only claims that that they have so far managed to scare food vendors away from meat and milk from cloned animels, but does not mention meat and milk from the progeny of cloned animals. Of course, vendors must take the concerns, however ignorant or silly, of their customers into account, but they can also educate them.

In other news, the European Parliament just passed a measure urging

…the EU's executive branch to ban the cloning of animals for the food trade.

Why? Food safety does not appear to be the chief concern, but 

…problems such as the animals' well-being and the higher mortality rate of cloned animals [and] … that cloning could considerably reduce the gene pool diversity and increase the risk of whole herds being hit by an illness they are all particularly susceptible to.

Regarding animal welfare, it is true that early on some clones were born with abnormalities, but a National Academy of Sciences report on animal biotech in 2002 pointed out

…the health and wellbeing of somatic cell clones approximated those of normal individuals as they advance into the juvenile stage. For example, somatic cell cloned cattle reportedly were physiologically, immunologically, and behaviorally normal….

As for genetic diversity concerns, cloning aims to increase the reproductive potential of the healthiest, best-producing animals. If EU parliamentarians are worried about the effect of cloning on farm animal diversity, I expect that they will soon outlaw veterinary artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization, too. And of course, far-seeing and wise parliamentarians are much better equipped to worry about farm animal genetic diversity than are farmers. 

This clone of Forever Lady 718, an internationally recognized Angus cow, sold for $170,000.

Finally, assuming that the neo-Luddites don't succeed, I am looking forward to the day when I can buy and eat a tasty Angus steak from a clone of Forever Lady 718 (see above). 

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  1. I think you would prefer your steak to come from her castrated son……

  2. Thanks for making me hungry, Ron.

  3. How is this any different from Republican attitudes toward Federal Funding of Stem Cell Research harvested from evacuated fetuses?

  4. Epi,

    Is it fate that I’m eating a Supreme Diogiorno pizza right when I see your comment?

  5. Naga, fat is in your future.

  6. Bah! (waves hand dismissively) Shows what a fool I was to listen to you! Everyone knows you lost your ability to foretell the future when you gave away your virginity!

  7. Cloned meat is somehow magically bad because its cloned. BRB, gotta smash some rocks together and worship the big glowing ball that goes around the Earth.

  8. What always gets me are the folks that don’t understand that the difference between “cloning” and “genetic engineering”.

  9. Naga, what is good in life?

  10. Women? Beer? Camaros? Gotta narrow it down for me, Epi.

  11. Episiarch,

    LoL. I believe you know I have always wanted to be a warlord. Doing the dirty, wandering, barbarian thing is a last resort. In a post-apocalyptic wasteland I would probably be like Auntie Entity. “Do you know who I was? Nobody. Except on the day after, I was still alive. This nobody had a chance to be somebody.”

  12. the higher mortality rate of cloned animals

    I thought “mortality” was the whole point in raising tasty farm animals.

  13. Should a producer express a desire for voluntary [clone-free] labeling the wise nannybots at this TLA may grant it on a case-by-case basis.

    But should you desire to test 100% of your beef cattle for a disease that might actually pose a threat, a different four-letter-acronym will forbid it.

    The great and wise overlords disagree.

  14. I believe you know I have always wanted to be a warlord

    “Just walk away, and we spare your lives.”

  15. “We want FDA approval of everything, but it means nothing when they disagree with us!”

    LOL, veggie.

  16. Wow, Epi, that’s a really good voice.

  17. I’m scared, Epi. It’s that rat circus out there, I’m beginning to enjoy it. Look, any longer out on that road and I’m one of them, a terminal psychotic, except that I’ve got this bronze badge that says that I’m one of the good guys.

  18. “First prize is a chance to live; second prize…you really don’t want to hear what the second prize is.”

    I’m putting out a little more challenge here, Naga.

  19. You want it? Come and get it.

    Now I’m worried a little Epi. To many movies seen and to little recall.

  20. Join the club, dude.

  21. Sucker! I was just buying time.

    Attention. You are now entering the Debarkation Area. No talking. No smoking. Follow the orange line to the Processing Area. The next scheduled departure to the prison is in two hours. You now have the option to terminate and be cremated on the premises. If you elect this option, notify the Duty Sergeant in your Processing Area.

  22. Episiarch,

    During the Tequila Era at Urkobold, I slightly recast Conan’s/Genghis Khan’s words:

    Mongol General: Wrong! Conan! What is best in life?
    Conan: To crush the agave, see it dripping before you, and to mix the fermentation with some lemon.
    Mongol General: That is good! That is good.

  23. Here ya go then, Pro Lib. You are a total nutcase, completely deranged, delusional, paranoid. Your thought process is all fucked up. Your information train is jammed, man!

  24. Hmm, I dont think I would want to eat a “cloned” animal either. Just seems weird.

    Jess
    http://www.anonymize.us.tc

  25. I own the Two-Disc Collector’s Edition of Conan the Barbarian. My wife just shook her head and went back to her blog.

  26. Naga, you are forcing me to become more obscure.

    “The penis is evil. The penis shoots seeds, and makes new life, and poisons the earth with a plague of men, as once it was. But the gun shoots death, and purifies the earth of the filth of brutals. Go forth and kill!”

  27. Tequila is Satan’s Blood!

  28. Zardoz? I’ll admit I had to cheat just to look up the reference. No way you had that title squirreled away in your head for just such an occasion! Give me a minute to think up a retort.

  29. It’s been more than a minute. And I own Zardoz.

  30. I can’t find any “Fist of the North Star” quotes! Wanna consider this a draw?

  31. Naga Sadow,

    Twelve Monkeys wasn’t about tequila, dude, that most sacred substance that the Austrians and Mexicans are trying to steal from us.

  32. That wasn’t me, damn your hide!

  33. Naga Shadow? I heard you were dead!

  34. I am magnanimous in victory, Naga.

  35. Episiarch,

    I read your statement to Naga in the following way: “Yes, but fuck you.”

  36. Damnit, Naga, sorry for the typo in your name…

  37. I read your statement to Naga in the following way: “Yes, but fuck you.”

    “No, but I will let you slink away this time.”

    (sterilizes ProL)

  38. Alright. You win this round with superior bad taste in movies(Zardoz?). I’ll be back though!

    You just got out of basic training, didn’t you? It’s pretty obvious you’re a rookie. You think you’re the center of the universe but you’re not. We’re just insignificant little specks, you and me. We’re not gonna change the world. we’re not gonna win the war. Nobody’s gonna care when we die.

  39. Does anyone here know how to get to Shell Beach?

  40. No problem, Defense. It happens. Seriously I gotta go. My aunt’s house got a foot of water from Gustav. Gotta do the diplomatic thing. You know. Kiss babies, shake hands, make my presense known. Later everyone.

  41. Does anyone here know how to get to Shell Beach?

    Dark City seemed to have so much potential, but ultimately disappointed.

  42. Nice exit reference, Naga. That is one hell of an underrated movie.

  43. Dark City seemed to have so much potential, but ultimately disappointed.

    [cough] Donnie Darko [cough]

  44. So, how do I answer Episiarch’s wit and sterilization rays? With–

    Scorn and defiance; slight regard, contempt,
    And any thing that may not misbecome
    The mighty sender, doth he prize you at.
    Thus says my king; an’ if your father’s highness
    Do not, in grant of all demands at large,
    Sweeten the bitter mock you sent his majesty,
    He’ll call you to so hot an answer of it,
    That caves and womby vaultages of France
    Shall chide your trespass and return your mock
    In second accent of his ordnance.

  45. We’ve gone from Zardoz to Shakespeare. An interesting transition.

  46. Willie could have wrote Zardoz. And probably thrown in more nude scenes, to boot.

  47. Episiarch,

    Well, I could be scornfully defying you (and the fucking Dauphin, the bastard) through Branagh’s film, staying in the appropriate milieu. Branagh might’ve directed Zardoz if he were old enough.

    Anyway, I love that quote, especially the phrase, “womby vaultages.” Shakespeare was awesome in inventing new words and phrases or in finding clever reusages of existing ones.

  48. Two points, Ron. First do you believe that the respect for science and ethical standards for the Bush administration are so high that any pronouncements from them must be accepted at face value? Second,vendors have done more than just “educate” as they have blackballed supermarkets into preventing organic food product manufacturers from labeling that their wares are GMO-free if they want to continue to sell in those stores. The effect of this is to force removal of such references from all packaging as the economics of split runs are prohibitive. This is “freedom of contract” in action and and an example that not all the threats to our liberties come from the state.

  49. Classwarrior:
    Genetically modified food is apparently not that much of a concern to most consumers or else the food companies’ cotract demands would have been overridden by consumer demands for that information. People do not have a right to that information, but they sure do have a right to demand that information just as the businesses have a right to refuse to disclose it. If you don’t like it, you may take your business elsewhere.

    Go suck a fat one and have a nice night.

  50. The loss of genetic diversity from cloning creates a managable risk for food producers. If a producer was foolish enough to keep an entire herd with identical cloned DNA, all the cows would be vulnerable to the same disease strands, raising the risk of the whole herd dropping dead at the same time. The producer can easily mitigate this risk by keeping several different cloned lines in the herd. Since any producer that picks the cows faces the risks, there is no need for government regulation. Just let farmers who bet the farm on a single line face the consequences if luck turns against them.

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