Milk and meat from clones is A-OK, says FDA

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Clone-Generated Milk, Meat May Be Approved: Favorable FDA Ruling Seen as Imminent

Yikes. I’m happier than ever to be a vegan.

Let’s take a look at this article:

Many in agriculture believe such genetic copies are the next logical step in improving the nation’s livestock.

Notice how they mention improving the livestock itself and not the conditions the livestock live in? As Erik Marcus says, animals are units.

Consumer groups counter that many Americans are likely to be revolted by the idea of serving clone milk to their children or tossing meat from the progeny of clones onto the backyard grill. This “yuck factor,” as it’s often called, has come to light repeatedly in public opinion surveys. Asked earlier this year in a poll by the International Food Information Council whether they would willingly buy meat, milk and eggs that come from clones if the FDA declared them to be safe, 63 percent of consumers said no.

Hearing things like this makes me think that Erik’s hopes for vat-grown meat as a way to reduce the amount of suffering may have trouble getting off the ground in the consumer market. Of course, to me, the “yuck factor” associated with cloned meat is on part with the “yuck factor” regular ol’, factory farmed meat.

The article also mentions how cloned animals’ milk will hit the shelves soon, but probably not the meat from the cloned animals themselves because the clones are so expensive to create. For a second I thought, “Well, at least there are no dairy cow offspring that will become veal this way, right? Maybe it’s an ever-so-slightly more compassionate glass of milk.” Turns out, not really:

[Clones would] be used as breeding stock, so the real question is whether their sexually produced offspring would be safe.

The animals don’t get cut any break here. They may be able to clone a cow, but that can’t cut out the sentience gene.

He’s a merchant of boar semen, keeping about 80 valuable animals. Rural students, usually members of 4-H clubs or the Future Farmers of America, order semen from these champion animals at $50 to $150 a vial and use it to inseminate local sows in hopes of creating a winning pig.

I really have no intelligent comment about this paragraph. I just wanted to quote “He’s a merchant of boar semen.” Wasn’t that a Shakespearean comedy, The Merchant of Boar Semen?

One recent morning, two cloned calves pranced around a field outside Austin. Their progenitors were not living animals, but rather cattle that had already been butchered and hung on a hook in a slaughterhouse. The calves were selected for cloning after receiving high grades for meat quality and yield, judgments that couldn’t have been made while the originals were still alive.

Priscilla, born in April, and Elvis, born in June, were created by ViaGen. They’re destined to be bred together in an effort to create prime stock. If it works, ViaGen will clone a large population of once-dead cattle, aiming to sell them or their offspring for breeding.

This is kind of sad. Sure, they’re “pranc[ing] around a field,” which most calves don’t get to do, but the whole idea of creating “prime stock” for breeding purposes from “once-dead” cattle comes off as a some sort of crazy zombie-cow experiment. And the cloned cows and their offspring are the only ones who suffer if something goes wrong. This doesn’t really matter to those benefitting financially, as the following quote shows:

Published research shows risks to the health of clones at all stages of their lives. But the genetic problems aren’t likely to alter the food value of clones…

“Food value.” There’s another one of those “animals are units” phrases.

As long as the industry is looking for ways to produce milk, eggs, and meat at an even cheaper cost-per-“unit,” we’ll continue to see things like this. Unfortunately, there’s no going back to family farming and the idea that we may be paying too little for our food is foreign to most people.

I have no doubt that the industry and science will continue to find ways to lower the cost of meat production. They always have. The problem is that it’s always at the expense of animal welfare. Whether it’s by cramming more hens into a cage to produce cheaper eggs or by cloning dairy cows, the animals come up on the losing end of the stick, again.

7 Responses to “Milk and meat from clones is A-OK, says FDA”

  1. Running2Ks

    Every time I read something like this, mad cow, antibiotic resistance, food poisoning–or any of that….I am glad to be vegan.

  2. kitchenmage

    “Once-dead”? I have to wonder at the use of this phrase in the article. It’s not like the Washington Post is exactly a hot-bed of vegans so what’s with the oh-so-inflammatory term? It’s not like there are zombie cows, but I bet your response is shared by lots of folks who read the article. So why is it there? Perhaps to evoke such responses so that the respondees can be ignored due to their “fringe views”–it’s clearly not there to relay information.

    This topic seems to break down into three areas:
    — eating animals
    — cloning animals
    — eating cloned animals

    Eating animals seems straight-forward. Some folks do, others don’t. Can’t we all just get along? I won’t say bad things about your diet if you don’t say bad things about mine. (and if we’re gonna talk trash about diets, I am starting with the whole “bee slaves” thing, because really… LOL)

    Cloning has a bunch of sub-issues: is it safe for the critters, is it good for the species, is it necessary or desireable and if so, what sorts of restraints should be applied. Those things–the science and politics–don’t seem to be your primary concern as much as the caging and eating them part.

    The third point seems self-evident from the first. As you note yourself, if you find eating non-cloned meat unacceptable, then why would you find cloned meat any better?

    As a meat-eater, I find myself more concerned about the effects of cloning on the species than on a steak. I am not saying that I want to eat cloned cows, but if I had to pick from a free-range clone and a feedlot “natural” I’d have to call my geneticist friend and talk a while. Seems a lot more negative things are done to the critters after they are born than before…even for clones.

    So, let’s back off the critters piece for a second and talk about something you probably do eat: soy. Are you aware that 85% of the soy on the US market is genetically modified? My understanding is that even a lot of the “organic” stuff is GMO, and we know from things like Starlink corn that once it hits the field, there will be cross-contamination. How do you feel about GMO-soy? Do you eat it? Do you trust the labels that don’t say it’s GMO to be true?

    It seems we have a lot of concerns on the cusp of food, tecnhology and politics–many of those concerns are shared by people who eat very different diets. What sorts of manipulation of the food supply are a good idea is a huge question, and one we should all think about carefully. Ultimately, if nobody buys it, it won’t continue being made.

    But I am also struck by this comment, “Unfortunately, there’s no going back to family farming…” because of its fatalism. If even folks like you, who are aware and concerend enough to blog on the topic, don’t see a possibility of real change, what’s the point? If you give up, the corporate food producers win. I don’t know where you live, but go find a family farmer and buy something from them. Then come back and tell us how wonderful it was. It’ll do more to help convince people that they can be a force for positive change in their daily lives than a hundred posts saying we can’t win. :-)

    btw, got a good vegan sugar or choc-chip cookie recipe? That’s what got me here to start with and then I got side-tracked.

  3. Ryan

    Kitchenmage – thanks for the thoughtful posting…

    So, let’s back off the critters piece for a second and talk about something you probably do eat: soy. Are you aware that 85% of the soy on the US market is genetically modified? My understanding is that even a lot of the “organic” stuff is GMO, and we know from things like Starlink corn that once it hits the field, there will be cross-contamination. How do you feel about GMO-soy? Do you eat it? Do you trust the labels that don’t say it’s GMO to be true?

    Well aware of all of that… and I’m none too pleased. When I buy fresh soybeans, they’re organic. When I buy soy products, 9 times out of 10 it’s organic, non-GMO soy. And though I can’t exactly trust the labels 100%, they’re the best I have to work from at this point.

    What sorts of manipulation of the food supply are a good idea is a huge question, and one we should all think about carefully. Ultimately, if nobody buys it, it won’t continue being made.

    Agreed.

    But I am also struck by this comment, “Unfortunately, there’s no going back to family farming…” because of its fatalism. If even folks like you, who are aware and concerend enough to blog on the topic, don’t see a possibility of real change, what’s the point? If you give up, the corporate food producers win.

    You know, you’re right. My statement wasn’t meant to say that there family farming is dead, but rather that it’s highly unlikely that the industry would ever reach the point where factory farming was the minority. But I shouldn’t be so fatalist about it…

    I don’t know where you live, but go find a family farmer and buy something from them. Then come back and tell us how wonderful it was. It’ll do more to help convince people that they can be a force for positive change in their daily lives than a hundred posts saying we can’t win. :-)

    As a member of a local organic farm’s CSA group, I do just that and have encouraged others to do so as well. I’m not always a downer. :)

    btw, got a good vegan sugar or choc-chip cookie recipe? That’s what got me here to start with and then I got side-tracked.

    Two very, very good chocolate chip cookie recipes:

    * Chewy Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies (PPK)
    * The Real, the Original, the Authentic, the Veganized Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe (Compassionate Cooks)

  4. Johnny

    I have learned a lot recently about what really happens to most animals used for food and it is so disturbing and this does just makes it worse. I am tryng to wean myself off of it. A link to PETA from this great animal sitting and walking site started to shine the light for me. Dog walker NYC website with NYC dog walkers, NYC animal welfare resources and NYC dog blog

  5. Johnny

    I have learned a lot recently about what really happens to most animals used for food and it is so disturbing and this does just makes it worse. I am tryng to wean myself off of it. A link to PETA from this great animal sitting and walking site started to shine the light for me. Dog walker NYC website with NYC dog walkers, NYC animal welfare resources and NYC dog blog

  6. gary

    Excellent post, Ryan. “Food value” gets us off on the wrong foot. It blatantly lacks empathy. Animals have intrinsic value. Their rather modest yet deep desire to experience life, and have some quality of life is far more important than humans’ desire to taste the animals’ cooked flesh. The latter consideration is negligible, miniscule compared to the former.

    Such a realization understandly is troubling to people who are a meat-and-dairy rut. But one day it will be the conventional wisdom.

  7. billy

    Hello. It is so easy to find small snippets of information here and there to prove some oddball topic. I would like to see your sources and some real hard data that these clones are dangerous. Without that all your doing is blowing hot air, and causing controversy over what may be the only way to support an exponentially growing world population.

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