Tuesday, January 2, 2007

I Like My Steak Well-Cloned, Thank You

Just before the new year, the FDA completed a 678-page report stating that meat and milk from cloned livestock is quite safe and is no different from the stuff we're eating now. In fact, it's so safe, they suggest that labelling any cloned products is not necessary.

This study has taken four years to complete, and there's been a voluntary moratorium on the sale of any meat or milk from cloned animals since 2003.

So how does this cloning process work? They remove some DNA from a very healthy and prized animal, inject it into a "hallowed-out" egg (lacking DNA), zap the egg to get the whole cell-dividing process started, and then implant it into a surrogate mommy cow. Sounds easy, right? The problem is, less than 5% of all eggs make it to actual birth. Really, you don't want that other 95% to actually make it to birth anyway, unless you like five-legged cows.

In a recent poll, more than 60% of Americans would not buy cloned beef, or milk from cloned cows. Why? The biggest reason is uncertainty. The second biggest reason is probably the creepyness factor. Doesn't it sound weird to say you're eating cloned food?

Of course the meat you're eating now probably has a bunch of hormones and stuff in it already. But we Americans love our milk and meat. Maybe you've noticed 10 year-old girls with Double D cups or 11 year-old boys with beards, but hey - we love our steakburger with a side order of hormonal-milkshake.

So the FDA is recommending that labelling these cloned products is unnecessary. They don't want the public to freak-out by seeing some label with the word "cloned" on their meat or milk jug. They want to emphasize how cloned animal stuff is indistinguishable from regular animal stuff.

The reality is, you're probably not going to find actual cloned meat on store shelves. Farmers will use the cloning process as a 21st century, high-tech husbandry method of creating superior studs. These super-bulls' offspring is what you might find in your meat section of the grocery store soon.

Personally, I would really like to know if the meat I'm buying is from a cloned Daddy. That's just me. Hey, you can market it to make it more appealing. Like "Angus Beef" or whatever. Certified-Cloned Beef. It has a nice ring to it. Or maybe they can genetically modify this cloned beef to ooze A-1 Steaksauce....mmmmm.

Apart from the whole long-term affects of human consumption of cloned animal products, my other fear is letting farmers play Dr. Frankenstein. I don't mean any disrepsect to farmers, in fact my father was a born farmer. Unless you've got a farmer that has a degree in genetics or something, do you really want to trust a farmer to mess with genetics with your food supply?

There's a huge difference between scientific genetic engineering and shoving a gloved hand into a cow's butt to make babies.

Despite these fears, the FDA did study this for four years. They studied cloned animals even at the cellular level, and I'm sure they did their homework. Sure, we could be suspicous of the timing of the release of this report - wedged between Christmas and New Year's. Yeah, the networks have been busy covering President Ford's death. Nevertheless, we should trust this government agency, as they have only our health and safety in mind. Right?

Spinach anyone?


Anonymous said...

Given all the stuff they already put in meat, what do I care if the meat I'm eating is from a clone or not? Nitpicking over how "unnatural" cloned meat is, well, it's kind of like objecting to gay marriage because it would make a "farce" of marriage when people like Britney Spears are already doing a tremendous job of doing just that.

ozymandiaz said...

I cloned my wife and ate the clone and she tasted just like my real wife...

Jennifer said...

It freaks the shit out of me. You do not mess with evolution, you'll open a big old can of two headed worms.

Pixie said...

Thats too creepy

Have a great 2007 XX

O Ceallaigh said...

Funny you should mention spinach. Especially since lots of crop plants are currently being cloned without our being told about it, while we obsess over a little beef.

I see few issues in eating cloned beef. Even if the clones aren't perfect (the mitochondria in the clone belong to the host ovum, so the product is still, technically, a chimera).

Their use as breeding stock, however, is a worry. Unless they've been able to address e.g. the premature aging questions arising from the likes of Dolly the sheep.

In 678 pages, maybe they have. Forgive me for not trying to read that brick just now. :P

KC said...

Clones, clones, clones! I don't mind, really. I'm still waiting for the day when someone can produce a kitty that will stay the size of a kitty and never grown into a cat.

Zen Wizard said...

The main worry the farmers would seem to have is the potential customers outside the reach of the FDA, e.g., France.

On spinach, I heard a guy make an interesting point on talk radio--there is stuff they give you to spray vegetables when an American is going somewhere where EVERYTHING is contaminated, for example, Mexico.

Why don't they tell you to spray that stuff on the spinach?

Probably worried someone will mess it up, it is easier just to recall it, etc.

The Phoenix said...

perplexio, I think the creepiness factor plays a part in all of this. I mean, how many of us eat McDonalds? That's pretty much cloned meat.

ozy, Oh man...leave it to you...

jennifer, I'm thinking that having an entire rach of cloned cows isn't good. Any kind of infection that these animals are genetically predisposed to could wipe them all out. There are all kinds of genetic issues here.

pixie, You said it. You too!

O.C., The prematuring aging is just one issue. There's also the whole issue of weakening a species by creating less genetic diversity. Also, do we really even need more cows in the first place?

KC, They did genetically modify a cat that doesn't trigger a allergic attack. Pretty cool! I want a dog that can walk upright.

Zen Wizard, Maybe that spray is just a placebo. It's probably just some water and a little bleach or something...just to give people going to Mexico some peace of mind.

mad said...

Um, this is the very same government that said the War in Iraq is a slam dunk? Maybe I'll go vegetarian. Wait, they clone that shit too. Guess I'll just have to stop eating.

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year, Jay!

Just another reason to go veggie... to bad I like animals so much.

stephanie said...

Do you think they can come up with genetically engineered meat for 28 year olds to get double D boobs? I would buy that so fast.

The Phosgene Kid said...

I think the antibiotics and hormones the ranchers and farmers are whacking the cattle up with are probably more of a threat than a cloned cow. As long as it wasn’t a mad cow clone I think we are pretty safe. What we should really fear is the next step – a Martha Stewart clone. God save us all…

Anonymous said...

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right? RIGHT?

Big Pissy said...

This doesn't even surprise me.... :(

Mimi said...

Happy New Year!

I had no idea that cloned animals were in our grocery stores. I thought all cloned animals lived in labs spending their lives being poked and proded. I am sure they would prefer that to being on the dinner table.

Keshi said...

Happy New Year mate!


angel, jr. said...

Why should anything be cloned?

the weirdgirl said...

I'm with O Ceallaigh. The part that creeps me out is how the cloned animal inherits all the aged conditions (and defects) of the older, original, animal. I don't want to be eating veal that had arthritis!

It's sort of similar to how they've learned (or hypothesize? I'm not sure) that umbilical stem cells banked from a person who gets cancer later in life, can't use those same stem cells because they may inherently carry the tendency towards cancer. (Did that come out right?) Anyways, I think that whole branch of science has quite a way to go in terms of research.

Anonymous said...

I would prefer to know if what I am eating has been cloned...I am unsure if I agree or disagree with this. I have some concern about the risk factors & I did think of the whole playing-God factor also.

Anonymous said...

Oh lord, what an incentive to go vegetarian!

ozy ~ LOL TMI!

Curare_Z said...

I'm in the camp of wanting to know what I'm eating. It doesn't mean I won't eat it...I just want to know.

But, then again, anything that will bring down the price of a filet...bring it on. :-)

Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

I'm with Curare_Z...I want to know where my food is coming from.

Just thinking about that whole cloning thing gives me the willies.....brrrrr!

Anonymous said...

The frigging FDA is in bed with the cattle ranchers, one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington.

I don't have to worry about this crap because I'm a vegan, but I do have to worry about the Frankenstein vegetables that they're creating -- putting salmon cells into a tomato so that it lasts longer. What a crock.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Nice blog you have here.

cube said...

I think it should be labeled. Let the consumer decide what they will eat.

Logophile said...

You know, I was watching some of my fav old documentaries last night and I think the host and author may have been right in his conclusions that the human race seems bound and determined to find ways to irradicate themselves from the planet. Now that we are not proliferating nuclear weapons I guess we had to find a new way to do it.

Carmel said...

I like to stick to vegetables!!! THe sound of cloned meat is just weird. Nice post! Happy new year to you.

Jim said...

cloning, you think we'd learned our lesson with the boy bands

Anonymous said...

I am on the fence with this one. I'd like to know if my meat is cloned, just like I'd like to know the reat of the ways my food is being manipulated. But I think worrying about it will make me sicker than actually eating it.

Happy New Year.

The Phoenix said...

mad, everywhere you turn it's clones, clones, clones!

carae, Happy New Year to you too. I know, I feel exactly the same way.
I love meat.

stephanie, I think you're onto something...

phosgene kid, Maybe a Martha Stewart clone will be nicer.

grafs, Or makes you have babies with extra limbs.

big pissy, Too bad we don't trust our government anymore to protect us.

mimi, Cloned animals are still relativey rare, as it costs $20K to make one.

keshi, Happy New Year to you as well.

angel jr., because cloning is fun for scientists. They get to play God. Like a kid playing with legos.

The Phoenix said...

WG, that's why animals reproduce sexually. It's a natural process that creates genetic diversity.

bluest butterfly, I'm weary of the safety of this stuff. I want it labeled.

dabich, Oh - like YOU never give TMI???

curare, That's what we need, cheaper beef!

stacy, Makes you want to eat a soy burger.

dan, Our food supply is one big experiment. Thanks for stopping by.

cube, I agree. If cloned beef oozed steak sauce, though, I think I'd buy it.

carmel, Unfortunately, veggies and other crops are already being genetically modified. In fact, the biggest crop genetics company is right here in St. Louis (Monsanto).

logophile, We are a race that seems to be suicidal.

r.edmonson, Thanks! We've been reading each other's blogs for over a year now. We should exchange links for sure.

jim, LOL. Good one Jim. I think Jessica Simpson has a clone running around out there, lip-synching.

goldenib, I'm sure when it happens, that cloned products will be safe. I just wanna know. My fear is for the long-term.

Jamie Dawn said...

Little girls are getting their periods younger also.
I studied about all the hormone mimicking chemicals that have been put into our environment since WWII. It is a staggering amount, and there are animals showing some very severe effects from it.
Lake Apopka (I think) in Florida has severe reproduction problems in the animals there, and there has been similar problems in the Great Lakes with otters.
Now with the uncertainty of eating cloned beef... who knows what the effects will be??
Scary stuff!
As long as I don't grow a beard, I'll be okay.

The Phoenix said...

JD, and as long as I don't have a period, I'm fine!

Anonymous said...

I don't eat cows.
I don't eat spinach.
I'm worried about chickens.

Speaking of labelling: The FDA decided that if foody products only had a little bit of trans-fats, the sellers could put a big sign on the front of the package saying "Zero Trans Fats."
No wonder they don't want to tell us whether meat is cloned, people might not buy it and the true constituency of the FDA (immense food corporations) might make less dough.

Jamie Dawn said...

Ha, ha! Your response was a good one.
Believe me, you DON'T want a period!

Fated said...

I heard about this. Some odd stuff. Call me old fashioned but I'll stick to food that isn't cloned.

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