Livescience has an article posted today reporting that “food from cloned animals is safe to eat,” according to the FDA. This is after 5 years of study. Evidently someone, somewhere, has been eating cloned meat for 5 years and not grown any extra appendages. Call me cynical, but I don’t buy any of it.
The FDA has been studying Tylenol for what, 50 years now? Ibuprofen for 20? And just last week they announced (and this is something pharmacists told me 10 years ago when I was a pharmacy technician) that tylenol can endanger your liver and ibuprofen can cause bleeding stomach ulcers.
So now, all of a sudden, after only 5 years of study, the FDA announces this:
FDA believes “that meat and milk from cattle, swine and goat clones is as safe to eat as the food we eat every day,” said Stephen F. Sundlof, director of the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine.
I’m not about to start taking my nutritional advice from a veterinarian. But that’s entirely beside the point. We need more than five years of research to know if this is going to be safe. And testing on the nation’s food supply is not something we should take lightly. And they may not even label the food as cloned:
Labels should only be used if the health characteristics of a food are significantly altered by how it is produced, said Barb Glenn of the Biotechnology Industry Organization.
“The bottom line is, we don’t want to misinform consumers with some sort of implied message of difference,” Glenn said. “There is no difference. These foods are as safe as foods from animals that are raised conventionally.”
Those in favor of the technology say it would be used primarily for breeding and not for steak or pork tenderloin.
Cloning lets farmers and ranchers make copies of exceptional animals, such as pigs that fatten rapidly or cows that are superior milk producers.
“It’s not a genetically engineered animal; no genes have been changed or moved or deleted,” Glenn said. “It’s simply a genetic twin that we can then use for future matings to improve the overall health and well-being of the herd.”
Right. I’m not yet ready to gamble my health on your semantics. Clones are, by definition, genetically engineered. And as such, they are prone to errors. Less so in the first generation, but inevitably errors will be produced. (The exact word for this phenomenon escapes me at the moment, but errors in cloning, as in computer programming, are cumulative and grow at an accelerating rate.)
Not to be too cynical, but I’d say they’re rushing to judgement on this. And I’d still like to see who’s been eating the meat of clones’ offspring for the past 5 years before I believe the study they mention is applicable at all.