Time is running out to tell the FDA what you think of its assessment that meat and dairy from cloned animals is safe for the food supply. The comment period closes April 2.
Yawn! you say. Enough already with the pleas to take action on cloning! I eat only organic — who cares what funky stuff mainstream America eats?
Well, friends don't let friends eat unsafe food. And I really believe this has significant potential to be unsafe. Once it's out there, ain't gonna be no stuffing that "genie" back in the bottle. (Case in point: genetically modified grains.) It looks like cloning headed straight into our food system. Mark Walton, president of the livestock cloning and genetics company Viagen, told attendees at the Animal Care & Handling Conference attendees just recently that
he is encouraged because as of March 28, more than 4,000 comments had been received by the FDA, but most referenced only the topic of labeling of products derived from cloned animals. Compared to many other hot-button issues, Dr. Walton said 4,000 comments during this 90-day comment period — which expires April 3 — is relatively low, indicating minimal resistance to the technology itself. [emphasis added. His comments were reported in Meat & Poultry News; registration required]
What am I, some Luddite scared of technology who pines for the "Little House on the Prairie" period?On the contrary. Friends will attest that I am one of the technologically geekiest girls, I mean women, around — a lover of all forms of chip-driven technology. But I don't want to eat cloned animals, at least until I'm convinced that they're safe, and we're nowhere near that point. And I also don't think potentially unsafe food, with or without a label, should be foisted on the millions of unsuspecting consumers who happen not to be following these developments. It's a giant, uncontrolled experiment on public health, and the only likely beneficiaries are the cloning companies and gigantic meat producers who want to clone their perfect steak producers.
If you need further persuasion that the technology is not ready for prime-rib time, label or no label, read the Center for Food Safety's detailed critique (PDF) of the FDA's risk assessment. (Or at least read the summary.) Only 10 years old, cloning technology is still so flawed that only 68% of clones survive. The FDA says that's no worry, as only the survivors will be edible, but I don't find that comforting in the face of the prevalence of inexplicable illnesses or deaths in adult clones — which are so prevalent that one scientist has termed it “adult clone sudden death syndrome."
You've got until April 2 to add your two cents that the technology needs to be more mature, and more comprehensive studies need to be done on the long-term effects of eating it, before the FDA approves it. C'mon, do it — it's just a few sentences and a few clicks of the mouse>
Credit: Images are from the Daily Show's recent segment on cloning.