Recently, FDA approved the sale of cloned animals and products. The FDA declared that meat and milk from cloned cattle, swine and goats are as safe to consume as food from conventionally bred animals.
The controversial decision removes a hurdle for the small cadre of American biotechnology companies that have waited for the approval to lift a voluntary freeze on selling cloned animals.
Proponents of cloned animals argue that their use will improve the consistency, quality and speed at which livestock products can be produced. Hence, it would eventually also create cheaper protein products.
This is the same argument used by the behemoth industrial agriculture machine. Yet, as many consumers have come to appreciate this cheaper food carries its own cost. Cheap food in the industrial factory farm system charges a cost to our environment, creates issues concerning the health and humane treatment of our animals, brings into question the healthiness and safety of our food systems and is set against the survival of the small-scale family farm. So, I say, cheap food but at what cost?
Regardless of what the proponents claim cloning is all about bottom-line profit and producing more and more of our food from industrial-scale farming operations.
Many consumers are seeking out choices and agricultural models that come closer to the farm and the intimate connection between the land, animals, and the people who care for them in a sustainable and regenerative system. To these consumers and to the people who produce these small-scale family farmed products the idea of cloning is in opposition to their whole food and back to basic approach.
Consider also some of the realities of cloning that include some disturbing phenomena. 64 % of cattle, 40% of sheep, and 93% of cloned mice exhibit some form of abnormality with a large percentage of the animals dying during gestation or shortly after birth. High rates of late abortion and early prenatal death, with failure rates of 95% to 97% in most mammal cloning attempts. (Mark Kastel, Cornucopia Institute) You cannot consider this natural when so high a percentage is rejected by body systems whose built in defenses reject the application.
Defects such as grossly oversized calves, enlarged tongues, squashed faces, intestinal blockages, immune deficiencies, and diabetes are some of the recorded complications. When cloning does not produce a normal animal, many of the difficult pregnancies cause physical suffering or death to the surrogate mothers. (Kastel)
Additionally, the widespread adoption of cloning could lead to the dramatic loss of genetic diversity in livestock. This may leave farmers and our nation’s food supply susceptible to devastating epidemics due to a monoculture gene pool.
However, in the increasing demand by consumers to know where the food is sourced cloning may very well lead many to seek out and purchase whole, pure products such as grassfed and organic foods. Grassfed and organic production protocols represent some of the last bastion of authenticity in the human food chain.
The National Organic Program at the USDA and the American Grassfed Association have made it very clear that cloned animals and their progeny are strictly banned from the livestock production models.
Consumers concerned about experiments with their food supply or humane treatment of livestock are very uncomfortable with cloning technology. A recent opinion poll conducted by the Food Information Council found that 58% of American surveyed would be unlikely to buy meat or dairy from cloned animals, irregardless if the FDA said it was safe.