Do we condone cloning?

When I heard the news last week that the FDA approved the use of cloned animals and their offspring as food for the American populace, I almost puked at the thought.

Not as much from the thought of actually eating cloned food, but more so as a guttural reaction to what I feel is happening all too often today regarding our food—and to the beings, non-human and human, who provide it.

The Center for Food Safety

cfs_logo.gifTwo days before the FDA's announcement on December 28th, the Center for Food Safety wrote a press release stating that the FDA's decision came "despite widespread concern among scientists and food safety advocates over the safety of such products. The move to market cloned milk and meat also flies in the face of dairy and food industry concern and recent consumer polls showing that most Americans do not want these experimental foods."

The CFS press release goes on to state:

Cloning scientists have acknowledged that genetic abnormalities are common in clones, yet [the] FDA failed to address how food safety and animal welfare concerns could be managed if cloning is widely adopted by the livestock industry. Some of the health and safety problems in animal cloning include:

  • Surrogate mothers are treated with high doses of hormones; clones are often born with severely compromised immune systems and frequently receive massive doses of antibiotics. This opens an avenue for large amounts of veterinary pharmaceuticals to enter the human food supply;
  • Imbalances in clones' hormone, protein, and/or fat levels could compromise the quality and safety of meat and milk;
  • The National Academy of Sciences warned that commercialization of cloned livestock for food production could increase the incidence of food-borne illnesses, such as E. coli infections;
  • Cloning commonly results in high failure rates and defects such as intestinal blockages; diabetes; shortened tendons; deformed feet; weakened immune systems; dysfunctional hearts, brains, livers, and kidneys; respiratory distress; and circulatory problems.

Aside from the lack of continuing public debate about whether or not we even want or should clone animals for food, what disturbs me the most about this issue is the FDA's unwillingness to require labeling if milk or meat comes from cloned animals or progeny. They've overruled our ability to choose whether to consume it or not.

So far they haven't had their feet put to the fire concerning the lack of GMO labeling of our food in this country; I guess they figure they can slip this one in and assume we're too overwhelmed—with the holidays, the war in Iraq, the lack of health care, the "orange level", or some other thing—for us to put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard.

Add your voice

That's why I'm asking you to consider adding your voice to this issue. The Center for Food Safety makes it very easy for you to write a letter and send it as an editorial to your local newspapers using their database expertise and computer savvy. Join citizens across the country—and get the word out: we don't want cloned milk or meat unless it is proven safe, ethical, or—at the very least—labeled.

Organic's position on cloning

Another point to consider: a CFS memorandum, linked from their home page, entitled "Why Animals Derived from Cloning (somatic cell nuclear transfer) Are Prohibited in Organic Production," contains the question, "Is somatic cell nuclear transfer [cloning] considered compatible with organic production?" Here's their response:

No. Every expert CFS has talked to who regulates organic production, is involved in organic production, or consumes organic products believes that use of cloning is not consider compatible with organic production. It would certainly be inconsistent with the regulatory definition of organic production which defines organic as a system that, among other things, conserves biodiversity. Use of animal cloning does the exact opposite by eschewing the genetic variation in traditional animal breeding and instead seeks absolute genetic uniformity. (Italics mine.)

If wishes were fishes

I'm not against the advancement of science and technology. I just question whether those in control of the use of said science and technology are thinking long term rather than focusing on short-term gains (and profits). I wish our leadership were like the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy and thought about the possible impact of each decision seven generations out before making one.

Where's the government oversight we're led to believe exists? Where's the much needed insight?

Sometimes it seems to me like our health as individuals and as a nation doesn't matter to the powers that be; sometime it seems like the will of a few corporations—and those who own stock in them or need their political support—rules.

Maybe we are the much needed oversight. Time to demand what it is we want. Soon. And often.

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